Ciao, bella. Hello, Garda!

Last weekend, I got to spend a lovely weekend with my friends Dirk and Sylvie in Sirmione at Lake Garda in Italy. Monday was a bank holiday (Assumption Day), which meant we only had to take Friday off to get a four day weekend. Sweet!

It was my birthday on Saturday, so I was more than happy to get away for a couple of days.

Friday

Friday started with too little sleep for me, after we had a work event on Thursday night. Once a year my company is invited to a boat trip on one of the nearby lakes where we eat, drink, dance. It’s always a lot of fun, but obviously, you can’t just leave when you’ve had enough. Thankfully, this year we cruised around Lake Starnberg, which is a lot closer to Munich than Lake Chiemsee, where we were last year. Less time to get home from the party.

I still went to bed late, but I had hardly drunk, so when I woke up on Friday I was merely tired, not hungover. Dirk and Sylvie were nice enough to pick me up at 10 AM before we headed toward Italy. It usually takes about 4.5 hours to drive to the southern shore of the lake from Munich. The roads were empty enough and our trip was only prolonged due to our stop at the Brenner Outlet Shopping Center, after I had realized I forgot my Nanos at the box in Munich. Can’t go on vacation without a pair of Nanos. 😉 I personally didn’t mind the stop and getting a chance to stretch our legs for a bit. We also stopped for a quick lunch and coffee before we continued our journey.

Sylvie had booked a small apartment for us. Before we headed there, we picked up the keys at a nearby hotel. I nearly yelped in joy when we arrived at the apartment! It was très cute! The apartment was rather basic. A bedroom, a small, not very luxurious bathroom, a sofabed in the kitchen. But it didn’t matter. There was a pool! But the best – without a doubt! – was that the lake was just at our doorstep. We could see the water from our large balcony. It was pretty sweet! Considering we had booked rather last minute, this was a lucky find.

After we had settled in, we went to find a supermarket to get a few breakfast items and then took a first stroll along the lake. We had left Munich in the cold rain in the morning. Sitting by the lake, the sun shining down on us, the fresh breeze of the water felt like a warm, comfortable hug.

We ended the day with a lovely Italian dinner, some ice cream for me (ricotta and figs – a dream!) and then some lovely chatting and drinking on the balcony. The perfect start to a perfect trip.

Saturday

I was up a little earlier on Saturday and decided to spend the time reading the paper on the balcony until Dirk and Sylvie got up. Strangely, my insomnia only ever surfaces at home and I always get the most restful sleep when I stay anywhere but at home. It was wonderful getting up and feeling deeply rested for once.

It was my birthday on Saturday and as the day went along, I was happy to be spending it with some of my best friends at such a wonderful location. Numerous times throughout this day and this whole trip, I couldn’t help but think that coming here for the weekend was one of the best decisions I had made in a long time.

We had breakfast first before we then headed into the historic center of Sirmione for some sightseeing. The historic center is mostly closed for cars and since we hadn’t planned any workout activities for that day, I think we were all glad for a bit of walking. I know I was! We walked along the beautiful lake shore until we reached the Scaliger Castle, a fortress that was built in the 13th century. We headed inside and enjoyed the stunning views over the town and the lake once we’d made it to the top.

After a quick lunch stop, we walked around the peninsula some more. I really enjoyed the narrow little streets, the vibrant colors of the flowers and the water everywhere. Our final destination were the famous Grotte di Catullo, the ruins of an ancient Roman villa. As we walked around the impressive site, framed by the lake left and right, I kept thinking to myself had I been a wealthy Roman donna, I also would’ve built my house right there. Just sayin’.

By the time we started heading back to the apartment, we probably had already walked a good 10 kilometers for the day. We stopped by a bar at the lake and sat down for drinks. It was lovely. I’m not a big Aperol drinker, but there’s something about Italy, sun, summer and vacation that makes a Spritz the perfect drink. Especially in combination with people-watching. It was my birthday, so definitely time to enjoy some birthday adult beverages!

Back at the apartment, we squeezed in a quick pool workout, consisting of some swimming, dips, push-ups and squats. A vacation of doing nothing? That’s a no-no. We’re CrossFitters, after all!

Dinner was at a lovely steak house and the perfect way to end this birthday. It might’ve been once of the nicest I ever had.

Sunday

On Sunday we decided to go for some more activity. We rented a couple of bikes and rode along the shores to the town of Dezanzano. Bike lanes around the lake are well-marked and plenty. It was actually really comfortable to ride there. I did, however, notice a big difference between city bike (which I had for the day) and my mountain bike at home.

After lunch and a quick tour of Dezanzano, we found ourselves a nice spot by the lake for some bathing. We sat near a group of teenagers who played volleyball, much to our amusement. Dirk and Sylvie are former volleyball players and certainly took an interest in the ongoings. The water of the lake was warm and comfortable to swim in. It was so nice.

We headed back to the apartment, squeezed in another quick workout of air squats and push-ups and then a final Italian dinner.

Monday

Monday unfortunately already marked the last day of our trip.

I was up early again and decided to use the time until Sylvie and Dirk got up for a quick WOD. I ran along the lake for about 20 minutes, before I repeated the pool workout from a few days earlier. I felt the squats from the previous day in my quads, but didn’t want to miss out on the chance to run by the lake. It was still early and only very few people were encountered on the way. (I left my Garmin at home and regretted that decision. It would’ve been so nice to record my little run!)

After breakfast, we got ready and left the apartment on time. We then started our lengthy journey back, but not without three scheduled breaks. First stop: Malcesine.

Sylvie and Dirk are old hands when it comes to spending vacation times at the Lago di Garda. They head down there at least once a year. Usually, they stay in Malcesine, which is on the east shore of the lake, a lot further north than Sirmione. We had decided to stop there for lunch, some sight seeing on our way back.

I was surprised by how different it looked and how different the town and area felt with the mountains so nearby. The area around Sirmione is rather flat. Malcesine not at all! We took a scenic drive across the mountains; coming down gave us the most stunning views over the lake. It was a public holiday in Italy, Austria and parts of Germany, which you clearly could tell from the mass of tourists in Malcesine. The town was rather busy. The roads too. On our way out of the city, there was a giant traffic jam going into the city – all the way to the autostrada. Those poor souls.

The next stop left me equally excited: Kolsass near Innsbruck in Austria. Our box has befriended the owners of The Cube, a lovely CrossFit box. I’d met Vera and Mike before, but only ever when they came to visit Munich. I’d never been to their crip. They were nice enough to even open the box before official hours so that we could all do a WOD together. (Hello, new Nanos!) It was brutal, but so much fun! Vera and Mike are some of the most friendly, kindest people you’ll ever know and we felt so welcomed there. As we were getting ready to leave, members for their first class of the day started coming in and I was blown away with how lovely everybody was, truly making us feeling welcomed. That’s the true spirit of CrossFit!

Saying goodbye was only possible because Mike and Vera mentioned, they’ll be coming to Munich next weekend. WIN!

Dirk, Sylvie and I then continued the trip homeward with one – this time final – break at Lake Tegernsee, just an hour south of Munich. We stopped at the Bräustüberl, a famous restaurant for dinner, before we finally arrived at our final destination.

I felt so deeply and thoroughly relaxed after I came back to Munich – I would’ve taken a few more days of downtime. Dirk and Sylvie are some of my most favorite people in the world and I’m grateful, they invited me along to the get away. I felt like my soul really needed that refresher. ❤

More pictures to come soon.

 

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One thought on “Ciao, bella. Hello, Garda!

  1. Pingback: Meating at the Grill | 3ckfoodie

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