Raj was right when he told Senorita in the red convertible in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge “Asli Europe to yahi hai” (this is real Europe) as they traversed through pine-carpeted hillocks, doll-houses, azure sky and all things that make for a picture-perfect postcard.
Smartheart and I took Raj’s advice literally and went around northern Italy and western Austria in our sky-blue Fiat 500C. We did not haul a list of must-see museums, palaces, churches or places of historical significance. This time, we just wanted to be soothed by natural beauty. After all what’s the point of taking a vacation if the mind is put to use there as well?
Our first hotel after landing in Munich was booked in a town called Menaggio on Lake Como in Italy. We touched five countries to reach Menaggio from Munich: Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein (MS Word shows an error on the word; but yes, it’s a country), Switzerland and Italy. It was a mini realization to the concept of one world. If the sign boards pointing to beginning and end of a country were removed, we wouldn’t have known which country we were in. Passing through hamlets, serendipitously turning into blossomy meadows and serene lakes, posing by every speck of homogenous yet novel sceneries for the camera as if to prove to Davies that we have time to stand and stare, we reached Menaggio.
We picked Menaggio as it offered a cheaper accommodation option compared to other reasonable-sized lake-side towns. It is one of three popular towns on Lake Como, the others being Bellagio and Varenna. The three towns are connected by frequently operating ferries. We reached Menaggio in late evening. Our hotel was lake facing, something which is not a luxury in such towns but a rather commonly-found alternative. We opened our balcony to notice something like huge clusters of stars having descended on the other side of the lake. A little later, we realized those blinking lights were town/s on the lake too which appear as stars because of some phenomenon beyond my understanding but certainly within that of Google.
Varenna could not hold us captive for long as Bellagio had set the bars very high. Varenna is also a quaint little town with its share of shops and restaurants but bluntly speaking, Bellagio is nicer.
From Italy, we drove towards Austria in order to satiate my fascination for snow. It was peak summer (end of May) but we came to know in our internet research about the few places in the world that offer year-round skiing and Neustift Im Stubaital in Austria was one in our geographical range. By the time we reached Stubai region, it was dark. But the next morning we opened our hotel room window and realized we were staying in the middle of the scenery that we were driving through last couple of days! We rode for an hour to reach the glacier region. There we took the gondola up to the apex. And from there we saw lots of whipped-cream-like snow, sometimes chocolate brownie peeping out from the snow in form of nutty mountains. We made spooky snowman and making it a witness, we vowed to make such an unconventional trip every year.