Be spontaneous, sometimes it leads to Lake Como!
Sometimes the most amazing trips abroad are the ones that are unplanned. My decision to go with a new friend to Lake Como happened at about 4AM the day that we left. I decided that I just needed to get out of the city and do a little mini-vacay and why not take the opportunity while I had someone to go with. It turned out to be an amazing trip; I was able to meet a lot of fun new people at our hostel and finally see a little bit of northern Italy.
Not every hostel is created equal, and there are certainly positives and negatives to staying in one. But in that kind of environment there can be brief flashes of the best of what humanity can be. People from all over the world coming together and just being together and happy. Of course, you might also get woken up at 3 in the morning when your roommate comes stumbling in drunk…nothing is perfect! The point is that there’s something about staying in a hostel that brings a more social experience to traveling. My trip to Como would have been an entirely different experience had I stayed in a hotel or an Airbnb.
On my last day in Como a group of us from the hostel decided to go in together to rent a speedboat to go out onto the lake. One of the guys had a speedboat license and wanted to use it, it’s something I never would have ended up doing alone. That day out on the lake was magical; we got to see more of the lake than we ever would have by bus, we got to swim, we drank wine and pretended to be fancy, and we just had a relaxing day together. Six people who were strangers having a unique and unexpected day out in a foreign country.
My trip hit what would have been a snag when a train strike, sciopero, was scheduled for the day I was supposed to return to Rome. Luckily 2 of the guys from our boat trip were road-tripping through Europe and were happy to let me join them for the next step of their journey and I hitched a ride to Padova. The friend I’d followed to Como came with and though neither of us had been planning to go to Padova, we had a great time seeing the small city.
Highlight of Padova was being able to see the amazing early 14th century frescos by Giotto in the Cappella degli Scrovegni. They've been preserved so very well and are being carefully protected by climate control.
Basically: be flexible, talk to strangers (but be smart about it), live a little. I’m definitely an organized and plan making type of person, but that whole trip was nothing like that and it was incredible because of it.
-If you are going to Lake Como, I'd highly recommend Ostello Bello. It was a really great experience. :)
-If you are staying in Padova, I don't recommend BSuites. The space was nice, but they lied about the check-in time and made us wait outside in the hot sun for an hour and a half when it was a self-check in and we never saw a single person.
-You can actually rent smaller and slower boats on Como without a license, so I would highly recommend getting a group together to do that!
-Definitely go to Cappella Degli Scrovegni in Padova. Also if you're going to Venice, add in a day and go to Padova, it's only a 20 minute train ride. :)
-Also, while I took the train, sometimes it's cheaper to fly to Milan or Venice than it is to take the train.