In the timeline of my life, I will remember the summer of 2014 for one thing: the bar exam. That two day test from hell consumed everything, always, and caused me (and every other poor unfortunate soul who sat for it) undue amounts of stress. I’ve never been one to particularly stress about exams, but the bar is just different. The fear of not passing crippled me at times, and I studied like I have never studied before.
And so, as I sat in Michigan, in the throes of bar studying but stealing a few minutes here and there to plan my bar trip, all I could think about was making it to Italy and relaxing. I planned to be in Italy for nearly a month, and I knew there would be days of high activity and lots of sightseeing, but upon arrival, I wanted to start with something low-key, something peaceful, something that would be the complete and utter antidote to the stress of the bar. Enter: Lake Como.
Yes, I know it’s a popular vacation spot, but it’s also low on monuments and must-sees; there wouldn’t be much for me to do there besides relax, and I would be relaxing in an incredibly beautiful spot. Perfect, right?
As with everything in life, vacation plans never quite work out as expected. My journey to Italy involved a super long layover in JFK, followed by a long time in Milan’s train station, followed by a sweaty train ride north, sitting across from a man who ate an entire box of cookies with his mouth open and drank directly from the world’s largest container of orange juice. By the time I found my hotel in Varenna (which itself was a slight challenge), I was not feeling the serene Lake Como magic I had anticipated. And, later that afternoon, when I lined up with what can only be described as a mad throng of other tourists to board the boats that jump from city to city around the lake, I grew even more dispirited. Jetlag was in full force, and I was not having my ideal Italian moment.
But then. Then the boat revved up, speeding out into the middle of the lake which, I kid you not, was positively glistening in the bright afternoon sunlight. And it was like a switch had flipped: the breeze was refreshing, the blues of the lake were crystal-clear and perfect, and the towns that dotted the lake (including Menaggio and Bellagio, where I briefly stopped) were charming, vibrantly-hued little gems. Suddenly, my jetlag didn’t seem so bad, and my pushy fellow tourists seemed less like annoyances and more like pleasant companions.
Just like that, I had arrived in Italy. And it was all good.