Our next stop after Zurich, was Lake Como, which is an hour away from Tirano, the small town where the Bernina Express terminates. We spent 3 days in Lake Como and although this was enough time to see the main villas and towns, I don’t think you can ever really have enough time in Lake Como – it’s just so beautiful.
The only way I can describe it is, what you imagine when you think of typical Italy; cute winding alleyways, small independent shops selling nic-nacs and locally made olive oil and balsamic vinegar (yes I did stock up!) and gelato stands on every corner, with the backdrop of a lake and mountains. Just unbelievable! It looked like a postcard or a movie set, so no wonder Hollywood stars like George Clooney love it so much.
The best way to see Lake Como, in my opinion, is simply to walk around, explore each town and what it has to offer. The towns are so different from each other, and each one has its own charm and characteristics. The must-sees are Bellagio, the most famous town, which was also my favourite; Tremezzo, where Villa Carlotta is, Menaggio and Varenna, the cutest little town where we stayed.
The villas are the main ‘things-to-see’ in Lake Como and each one, just like the towns are unique and have their own little charms. Villa Balbianello, probably the most famous villa is where Star Wars and James Bond: Casino Royale were filmed, Villa Carlotta is also one to visit, with a beautiful front gate and amazing gardens with bamboo fields, waterfalls etc and lastly Villa Melzi with has a gazebo with this view of the lake!
Every restaurant we stumbled across was amazing, I mean can you even get bad food in Italy?! A few musts are Risorante La Punta (Bellagio) – try the pesto pasta; the best gelato we had was at Gelateria del Borgo (Bellagio) – try the coconut and lemon flavours, and in Varenna, go to Ristorante La Vista (book ahead) and Bar II Molo.
I’ve seen a few places in Italy now, but Lake Como has to be one of my favourites. I hope to visit again soon, and explore the villas and gardens I didn’t get to see, eat at every out-door restaurant in the alleyways and enjoy gelatos, while watching the boats come and go on the lake-front. Can’t get any better than this!
The Bernina Express – the closest thing you’ll ever get to riding on the Hogwarts Express. If you know me in real life, you may know that I have a little thing for trains…I’m a total train geek. I just find them so magical and such a romantic way to travel, and maybe because I have a fear of flying, I am able to experience that travel excitement without feeling the need to pop 50 Calm pills (I don’t do this, by the way!).
A couple of years ago I heard about the Bernina Express train and it’s been on my travel bucket list ever since. I planned a whole family trip to Italy, starting in Zurich, Switzerland, all around my need to experience this scenic train, which I’m glad to say not only met my expectations but it truly exceeded them.
The Bernina Express is a 4-hour long train journey from a small town in Switzerland, Chur, through the Swiss Alps and to Tirano, in Italy. You see all types of things on the journey, small villages with the mountains as the backdrop, tiny old churches, people skiing (if you’re lucky), lakes and my favourite, viaducts. Although you might think 4 hours is a long time to sit on a train, and I too initially thought this, so armed myself with a book, music and Netflix shows downloaded, but honestly I didn’t even read the blurb of my new book. I spent the journey just admiring the nature that I was in (when did I become such an old lady!) and taking pictures…of course!
Bernina Express Tips:
- If you can, I would recommend booking the panoramic coaches, just to get the full experience of being on a train journey through the Swiss Alps.
- Book early, as it gets booked up very quickly!
- Get your camera ready for shots of the mountains & viaducts etc and listen to the Bernina staff members as they tell you what’s coming up.
- If you’re a keen photo-taker, you can open the small windows in between each carriage to get a shot without the annoying window glare.
If you know me IRL or have just been reading my rambles on this blog for a while, you may know that I am a huge Disney fan and have been ever since proposing to the man himself, Mickey at Disneyworld at just 4 years old. Even though I got rejected (sad times), my love for Disney has only ever gone UP (get it!), even in my 20s….after all ‘adults are only kids grown up anyway’ – Walt Disney.
Therefore you can imagine my excitement when I received an email from Disney UK inviting me to their Hawaiian cooking class to celebrate the release of Moana on DVD (out now). The event was at Island Poké in Carnaby Street which is a subway style healthy, fast food restaurant that serves poké.
Poké is a traditional Hawaiian dish made of raw fish (or beetroot for the veggies like me), rice and other toppings, such as pineapple salsa and avocado. The founder of Island Poké taught us how to make it and it was surprising fairly easy and tasted great! I was a bit apprehensive about the dish, as I’m not the biggest fan of beetroot and pineapple but surprising I loved it, and will definitely add the dish to my weekly menu, as it’s super healthy!
How to make it:
For the Bowl:
Seasoned sushi rice
90 grams sashimi grade yellow ﬁn tuna or beetroot
3g grated ginger,
Half a teaspoon of togarashi
Sliced spring onion to taste
25ml light soy
25ml pure sesame oil
A dash of Mirin
50g fresh pineapple
20g fresh pineapple juice
5g grated ginger
Juice of half a lime
Red chilli to taste
40g Wakame seaweed
Finish with crispy onion and mixed sesame seeds
- Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, chopped spring onions, ginger & togarashi to the beetroot (or tuna), and let it rest.
- Meanwhile prepare the pineapple salsa, by cutting up the pineapple into small chunks and adding the chilli, ginger, lime and pineapple juice.
- Add the beetroot & pineapple on top of the rice and garnish with sesame seeds and crispy onion.
Thank you to Disney & Island Poke for inviting me to a lovely, summery event, which was a great way to kick start the warmer months!