Our recent contribution on Refinery29 has us reminiscing about a trip we took to Lugano, Switzerland in 2010.
Here's how it went down: After traveling for a day via train from Geneva to the Italian-speaking Swiss town of Lugano, we were exhausted, eager to explore but also curious about the neighboring lake region of Italy. You've heard of the lake region - likely because George Clooney summers in its most popular town, Lake Como. Early the next morning, we hopped on bikes (which were free to rent in Lugano at the time), rode around town singing Cee-Lo Green's F*** You (it was 2010) and headed straight to the lido for a morning swim and brunch.
As it often does, our curiosity got the best of us - and we felt we needed to go to Lake Como. It was a quick, cheap train ride away. Half of old Hollywood and George Clooney vacations there. We had to at least see it - because maybe we would fall so deeply in love with Lake Como that we would cancel our hotel in Lugano and stay there for the remainder of our trip.
So we left Lugano and headed to Lake Como. Some of what we met there was not so different from what we left in Lugano - a beautiful lake and warm weather, lidos, delicious Northern Italian food. But other parts of it - the price of everything, the expensive hotels, the crowds, the lack of free bicycles - were enough to send us right back to Lugano. So, within a few hours we went back, less than half an hour north, to an area with the same climate and similar food and free bikes and a less-crowded lido. And it was exactly where we were meant to be.
On that trip, we learned to disregard the hype, and importantly, if we were going to popular locations - written about in tabloids and frequented by celebrities - in the middle of August, we weren't going to be alone and it wasn't going to be cheap (in fact, the hotels in Lake Como were twice the price of Lugano - which is especially shocking because Switzerland can be a very expensive country).
The moral of this story is: If you want to save money, try traveling not to a popular destination but its neighbor (Shelter Island instead of the Hamptons...Lugano instead of Lake Como...Lamu, Kenya instead of Zanzibar, Tanzania). But also, go to Lugano. Because Switzerland is always a good idea.