Sabato 25 Feb – Lugano Adventure Part II from Part I Post

After the previous day in Menaggio we had established that we could catch a bus from here to Lugano in Switzerland so we figure ‘why not’. So once again we embark on the ferry ride across the lake, purchase our bus tickets, and then partake in another leisurely breakfast in Menaggio. We try somewhere different this trip and end up in what seems like the pre work meeting place for half the town. There is a constant stream of people in for espressos and they all seem to know each other and the owners. It appears to be a habit here to stand at the counter and order an espresso, knock it back, then carry on about your day. Sometimes it resembles a public bar in an Australian hotel with a 1/2 dozen people standing at the counter with these small espresso cups. We ordered our breakfast which on the menu said it consisted of two brioche (croissants), juice, coffee, toast, so we thought this would be a nice light one. Wrong! The brioche are huge, one chocolate and one honey, and our host tells us “the toast will be 3 minutes”. Ok, we thought, that’s no problem, as we work our way through the best brioche we have had so far. They were not overly sweet as expected, in fact they were just right and quite filling. Then the ‘toast’ comes out! Turns out to be two toasted ham/cheese sandwhiches, which are very popular over here, so while we were expecting a piece of toast each to spread maybe some marmalade on we ended up with another whole meal. But what the hell, it’s a holiday so we ate that and had a second cappucino each.

From Food_Wine_Beer

We had about an hour to kill so off we wandered again for another brief look around the Salita of Menaggio where we ventured into a small playground where I managed to get a quick ride in

From Menaggio_Lugano

then being a bit paranoid about times we thought it best to get to the bus stop and wait for our bus to Lugano. Now this is not some sort of special interstate bus like a Greyhound or something, which may have been assumed given we were travelling between countries. It is a simple regional bus just like our domestic council bus services.

After a brief wait with some locals the bus arrives, on time, and we make our way up the back of the bus like a couple of school kids and we are on our way. Firstly a long winding road up the mountain with some very sharp turns where the bus driver honks his horn in warning to oncoming traffic as he needs most of the road to get around the hairpin. Then we straighten out a bit and start a very scenic stretch along the edges of a lake. The road constantly changes from 2 lanes to very narrow single lanes through small hamlets, where we are so close to the buildings you could reach out the window and touch them, and there are many areas controlled by lights for one way traffic at a time. There are also areas without any traffic control and here vehicles going both ways slow down and pass within millimetres of each other. The whole trip reveals some wonderful images and scenery and after many turns and tunnels we are finally on the descent into Lugano.

From Menaggio_Lugano

We arrive in Lugano around 11.30 AM and after reviewing an information map find our way towards the main shopping area. On the way we come across a beautiful park which borders Lake Lugano which the town is built around, and decide to walk through this on our way. It is a beautiful sunny day and whilst not hot in our terms is warm enough to enjoy. And there are many locals out in the park enjoying the sunshine.

From Menaggio_Lugano
From Menaggio_Lugano

Along the way I spy a casino!!

From Menaggio_Lugano

which has a roof top restaurant so I convince Alison it would be of great cultural interest for us to visit the casino on our way back to the bus and we could even have lunch in the rooftop restaurant. She reluctantly agrees.

It is a short walk through the park to a Piazza containing many shops and cafes with a lot of people having drinks and meals, and they all appear to be sitting on one side of the tables facing the sun. Obviously the whole town enjoys a sunny day!

From Menaggio_Lugano

We decide it is time to stop for a drink and find our way into one the Ristorrente for a Swiss beer for me and a Campari & Orange for Alison

From Food_Wine_Beer

all drinks here seem to be accompanied by an array of free snacks. In most places we have been for a drink we also recieve one or a combination of, chips, pretzels, olives, peanuts. You never have to buy a packet of chips to have with your beer! Lugano is an Italian Canton of Switzerland so we get by with Alison’s Italian which is improving every day.

Once our drinks are over we begin to explore the Piazza some more. There are many shops and lots of people and then we spy this shop.

From Menaggio_Lugano

Yep that’s all chocolate people, heaven is Lugano!! I am so tempted to buy one of everything but settle for a box of truffles (which we are half way through by the time I have written this) and then looking at the time and considering our return bus we decide it is time to have some lunch and get that cultural fix.

We enter the Casino Lugano foyer and I have my video camera on and get an instant admonishment by security to turn it off, whoops! After placating him we ask for the restaurant and are directed to the lift. It is a psychedelic experience in itself as it is quite dark with coloured lights changing as you ascend. Then we are at the restaurant which is very flash and full of suited business looking people, we feel a bit under dressed but this doesn’t appear to bother our Maitre d’ who shows us to a table with a view over the lake towards the mountains. The menus come out and it all looks superb. We make our choices and indulge in some more beer and wine (I see a pattern forming here) and enjoy a leisurely lunch with a panoramic view. But alas time is against us as we must make our bus to be able to connect with the ferry so we say our farewells. (Oh and I needed that cultural fix so we had to go) Back down the psychedelic lift and we have to drop our bags and jackets at the cloak room so we can visit the casino floor. We need our passports to get in and they give us a plain white card, sort of like a hotel door key card. We’re still not sure what this was for and we had to drop it in a box on the way out. But anyway we ventured on in and it was a bit disappointing. It was all poker machines. There was a ‘race track’ being that it was those small horse and jockey figurines that race around a miniature track on magnets or something. There were a couple of more floors so we went upstairs for a look. It seems smoking laws are a bit different and there was a distinct and over powering stuffy smoke odour so we decided we’d had enough and made our way out. My first visit to a casino without a punt!!

By now it was getting close to bus departure time so we made our way back to the stop and were shorlty on our way back to Menaggio. This time we sat at the front and I decided to video the experience from that perspecitve. So if you want to take a ride around the windy and narrow roads you can check it out here.

This was our walk around Lugano.

View Larger Map

And that was it for another long day across two countries by bus and ferry.