I booked my flight to Milan three days before departure, which actually turned out to be two days because I was too hungover to know my own name – let alone the date. The next morning, I side stepped my classes and bee lined for the camping store to find myself a pair of hiking boots. There was some serious mental gymnastics involved in justifying a Scandinavian priced pair of shoes, but I was bolstered by the prospect of Italian mountain ranges and hiking trails begging for attention in the off-peak season lull.
Milan was an unusual experience, I cant say I particularly liked it. This may be due to the fact that I was lost for about 18 of the 24 hours that I resided there, or maybe it was because of the chubby Italian dude with a moustache from my hostel who asked me to have sex with him.
From Milan, I travelled to Lake Garda, the centrepiece of endless traveller tales reminiscing on turquoise waters framed by green mountains and hiking trails spread like veins over the country’s north-east. I stayed at Meet hostel, which was sadly on the brink of closing for the winter season, but it did promise more vibrant, long summer days and nights enjoying home cooked Italian dinners and beers on the outdoor balcony. On the first day, it rained. On the second day, it also rained. I spent these first days trawling for the best hiking route and begging for clearer skies. By the third day of continuous rain, I was forced to throw in the towel and accept defeat. I sacrificed my hiking adventure and succumbed to the world of espresso, pizza, and gelato. In the intermittent periods when rain did not call for hot chocolates by the hostel fire place, I walked through the city’s streets, which were like a vacuum for tourists fuelled by fancy shoes and excessive caloric consumption.
However, many of the restaurants and shops had closed for the winter period, which in hind site makes a lot of sense considering the town’s major attraction is somewhat frozen and highly unappetising. During summer, I can imagine the Lake would be alive with sun-bakers, swimmers and sailing boats – all visible by the mountain huts built to host hikers and those with an elevated sense of adventure. I would recommend travelling to Lake Garda, or one of her Western relatives, but choose the season selectively – after October should be out of bounds.