I had all morning to pack. My bus to Peschiera didn’t leave until 1:10pm. But per usual, I was packed and ready to go early because I knew I wouldn’t walk quite as fast fully loaded and wanted plenty of time to get to the bus stop. Sometime while I was at Marmota Hostel, I made a quick video tour of my 6-bed dorm room because it was just laid out so nicely and was quite big. I’m sure I’ve said it, but I will say it again: I highly recommend Marmota Hostel if you’re ever going to Innsbruck and want budget accommodation! It’s awesome and they put on a really nice breakfast.
Ok, moving on. I knew the bus ride from Innsbruck to Peschiera would be beautiful because it was right through the heart of the Alps. So I desperately wanted a window seat on the bus. I was worried when I got on initially because I didn’t see any free window seats… but then I spotted one I thought was open and went to sit down. THere was an older lady sitting in the aisle seat and she said I could sit next to her. That bus driver was a little hair-raising. He made our hearts pound a couple of times…the second time he had to very quickly slow down behind an attenuator truck because there was a huge truck in the lane next to us and couldn’t move over quickly. It was pretty nerve-wracking. Horns honking, the bit of a jolt forward, etc… really gets the blood flowing. After that, he seemed to be paying a little bit more attention.
I had one connection to make a bit into Italy. It was a little bit of a weird location. Not exactly near a highway, but a main road and right behind a building and adjacent to the loading zone. Most of the people who got off the bus had places to go but me and another Italian guy that didn’t know any English. So he sat down and then I sat down. I was enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. Eventually more people started gathering at this “station” and soon enough the bus to take us to Peschiera arrived and I got on.
Something about having never been to Italy, know basically zero Italian, and having heard that, unlike in Germany or Austria, Italian people tend to know English less and so may be a bit harder to get around and communicate if you don’t know any Italian. The bus driver knew minimal English and everyone that got on this second bus was speaking Italian.
When we arrived in Peschiera (pronouced pesh-kee-air-a), I got off the bus, got my backpack, and started walking to my hostel, Meet Garda Lake Hostel. I don’t know what there was about it that evening, but I was just getting a little bit of a weird vibe from the town and the people. Not disturbing or anything, I wasn’t really nervous to be there; I guess it was what I would call the “new place jitters.” I was pretty tired out I think. Got to the hostel, checked in, went to my room.
Oh!!! I know what it was! So, about 15 minutes before I got off the bus in Peschiera, I found a flight from Verona, Italy to London Gatwick airport on GoEuro for only 50Euros. I had been struggling the previous day to find a cheap flight from Milan to London. I had stayed up later than I wanted to trying to figure out how to get to London. That last evening in Innsbruck, I went ahead and bought a flight for over 100Euros from Milan and booked one or two nights in a hostel there. But when I found this flight for 50Euros, I just went into this tizzy of plan-changing. I had 24-hours to cancel that flight (with EasyJet – I HATE their website by the way – It is terrible and needs help badly) and so, with 2 hours to spare, I canceled that flight for a 70% refund, booked the flight with British Airways for 50Euros, canceled my hostel reservation in Milan, etc, etc. My mind was RACING after this because I was in the process of booking when we were approaching Peschiera and I would have to get off and lose the bus’s wi-fi connection! At the same time, I was looking at hostels in Verona (what hostels, you ask?) and trying to find reasonable accommodation there for one night). FYI – there are like ZERO hostels in Verona. There are a ton of expensive B&Bs that you can stay at. In the end, I booked one night at Juliette House B&B for about $75/night. To add insult to injury, I didn’t pay for a checked bag in advance with British Airways and so (little spoiler alert – sort of/not really) I had to pay 50Euros for a checked bag. So, in the end, I lost quite a bit of money on that rash decision to go with a cheaper flight. Grrrrrrrrrrr….. Stupid!
Ok – got up to my room and it was just alright compared to Marmota Hostel. I had a top bunk which was a little annoying. So, all this while, I’m fuming inside (more an anxious and mind-racing fuming instead of anger fuming)… I went downstairs to the kitchen to make something to eat and a young lady was there and she started talking to me and could tell almost immediately that I was super stressed out and just needed to eat something, calm down, etc. It was nice to just vent a little bit to her about this anxiety of travel arrangements, language barrier, and stuff that usually doesn’t bother me! Like being in a new place! What is this?!?! Seriously, it really hasn’t been an issue since that first couple of days I was in Bangkok having serious questions on why I thought this traveling long-term thing would be a good idea. It really throws me off sometimes. After dinner, I just got ready for bed and went to sleep.
I was in a funk the whole day. I had no great desire to go outside and do anything, but I forced myself to go for a walk and see a bit of the town. I really nice a beautiful place on a beautiful lake. That girl I talked to last night told me about going to a mountain of north of Peschiera but that you had to buy a bus ticket in advance because you should leave on the first bus in order to have a nice long day up north and not have to hurry. I went to the tourist office and asked about this bus ticket and going up the mountain. The bus day-pass was 10Euros and they would give me a discount voucher for the cable car. So I bought it not even sure if I was going to go. I really wanted to; I love the mountains and wanted to be on top of one again. But the thought of trying to navigate this foreign bus system where I don’t now the language, I don’t know anyone, and don’t know the bus routes/system, it just was so intimidating.
I walked around town for a big, keeping my eye out for a nice restaurant where I would have my first real Italian pizza. I found one and after walking around town for a bit, went back there. This was a whole other experience. I had read in the hostel brochure (they gave me when I arrived) that you should dress up for dinner. Well, I’m backpacking, I don’t have dressy clothes, like at all! So right away, I’m thinking that’s going to be an issue. So, I walk into the restaurant and ask if I can sit outside somewhere. The first woman I talked to (a waitress) said yes, just take a seat anywhere. So I quickly start looking where I want to sit and spot a table that’s closest to the water’s edge. I do notice that there is a couple (nicely dressed and already eating their meal) at the table next to the one I chose. The table was pretty close. I went to sit in the seat facing the water which was pretty close to the woman and in her STRONG Italian accent (and attitude as thick as her accent) said “ahhh scuzziiiii, please….” I’m like ok, ok, don’t flip out… I get you’re point, I will sit in a different seat outside of your personal space zone. So, I sit at another side of the table; the waiter comes and removes the other three wine glasses and silverware settings. Then the lady, speaking to her husband, says in Italian “why does she have to sit right here when there are all these other tables to choose from?” It was in Italian like I said but from her attitude and hand gestures, I knew EXACTLY what she said. So, I decided to not impose on their space any longer and moved to a table across the sitting area, another table set for four people. Then, the waiter comes over, notices that I have moved tables. He came over and (seemingly) in a bit of huffy mood, removes the other settings for three people. I almost got up and left; if nobody wants me here, I don’t have to stay!! It was so uncomfortable! I ordered a pizza and asked what one of the toppings was. The waiter didn’t seem to fully understand what I was asking or that I was saying I was vegetarian so I asked for a specific pizza without that one topping and he repeated what I had said “…without such-n-such” like it had just ruined this certain type of pizza. I mean, maybe I’m being touchy and sensitive, but man; the attitudes in this place were so thick!!
The pizza wasn’t even that incredible. I mean, don’t get me wrong; it was quite good but it wasn’t anything that made me say “best pizza I’ve ever had.” They had set a bottle of olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette on the table and so I thought, let me try the balsamic…. wow!!! Now, that balsamic was the best I’ve ever had!! So I thought, let me put some of this amazing balsamic on my pizza and make it a bit more flavorful. I have no idea how weird this would look to other Italians but I didn’t really care too much because it was sooo good! I poured some balsamic on my plate and then pulled the pizza pieces over it and let the crust soak it up. WOOWWWWW… you’ve gotta try this! New way to enjoy pizza! Yummmyyyyy.
After devouring the pizza, I quickly paid, and left and fast as possible. I was so glad to get out of there; I’ve never been that happy to leave a restaurant before. It was just a bad combination of mood and attitudes…. meeehhhhh.
After that, I went back to the hostel, laid down, and fell asleep early.
Woke up a bit early so that I could eat breakfast and be ready to catch the first bus up to Malcesine. I did not want to get out of bed. I debated with myself all morning and even when I was on the bus whether I would go all the way to Malcesine. I had to change buses in Garda (I thought) because it was too early in the season for a special bus route that goes directly from Peschiera to Malcesine. But when the bus arrived in Garda, I wasn’t sure whether I should get off, whether there was more than one stop here, etc., etc. Then someone sitting near me was talking to a couple that seemed to know what they were talking about and they said that this bus was going all the way to Malcesine, that in Garda it would change it’s route number and continue north. So I stayed on the bus because another couple was going where I was going and they were staying on. So I figured I would stick to them.
Let me back up a little though; waiting at the bus station in Peschiera, the bus ran about 20 minutes late. You can’t be too up tight about schedules in Italy, I’ve found. The trains and buses are pretty lax on schedules. They may arrive on time, they may leave on time, they may very possibly however arrive and leave late. So, it’s a good thing that this bus I got on was going all the way to Malcesine because I probably would have missed the connecting bus and had to wait an hour or two. Thankfully, the bus continued on and it stopped in Malcesine. 🙂 Happy days.
Malcesine is a picturesque Italian town. It’s beautiful! I headed straight for the cable car station with a couple stops at the Olio E Vino store (if you can’t guess – oil and wine), a bike shop, and maybe one other store. At the Monte Baldo cable car station, I got my ticket and got in line. It was a nice ride up to the top. Unfortunately, I was in the very middle of the circular cable car and so couldn’t video any of the ride. I didn’t have a good view at all.
Up at the top, I noticed some guys carrying big huge backpacks and immediately I thought hang-gliders/paragliders!!! I’m following them because where they go, cool stuff is bound to happen. 😀 So I stuck with them and followed them up and over the hill and then saw that there’s a restaurant up there, and a large open area where there’s a bunch of paragliders; some already in the air, some preparing their gear, etc. It was awesome!! There were a bunch of tourists too, walking around. It was so awesome! Being on the mountain, in the sun, with people who love the outdoors doing cool stuff; it all just completely blew my funk away. It was exactly what I needed. I absolutely love the mountains and need them in my life! I sat and watched the paragliders for a while, the walked to the end of the plateau area to take some pictures. Then, I headed back the other direction. In the other direction from the cable car station, I saw a couple headed up the hill; but not on the easy trail. They were headed up the hard way, up the rocky trail; the fun way! So I followed them. It’s funny – I said I would go up toa certain point, but once you get up to that point, you see that you can go higher and get better views. So you keep going, and go higher, and higher, and you keep thinking, up on that next high point, I’ll stop and head back. And I just kept hiking… Now i think I’m making it sound like I hiked far into the mountains on my own… I didn’t. It was a clear trail and the views and the trail just kept saying go further and higher. It really was a beautiful day and the hike and altitude and views just made me thankful to be there and to feeling so alive and vivacious. I finally turned around and headed back. I considered getting lunch at the restaurant on the top of the mountain but I read their menu and nothing really tickled my fancy so I decided to go back down to the town and find something delicious there. And I did just that.
Here’s some panoramas from the top. It was such a gorgeous day. Just what the doctor ordered.
Got down into town, found a nice little restaurant with outdoor seating where I saw other people in their hiking/outdoor (not dressed-up) clothing and thought I would be fine here and not get served a dish of attitude. The pizza was delicious, waitress was really nice and friendly, and the ambiance was lovely.
After lunch, I walked a bit further, got a delicious ice cream, and then walked around town a bit more.
I debated whether to get some olive oil here but figured I didn’t want to carry oil in my pack for too long and it would add a relatively significant amount of weight to my pack which is already pretty heavy. So I just walked around and saw the town until it was time to catch the second to last bus back to Peschiera. On the way back, I did have to transfer buses in Garda. Thankfully, I made it back to Peschiera with no major “getting lost” occurences. It helped my self-confidence a bit.
Back at the hostel, I just took a shower, got ready for bed, and went to sleep.