Women's Water Polo
    EURO BLOG: Champs Splash Down At Lake Como

    July 8, 2016

    July 3-6: Como, Italy

    Nicola Gonzales
    As we touched down in Milan, with all of my teammates surrounding me, we realized not one of us could speak Italian. However, we had faced much bigger challenges in the past, and I have seen The Godfather many times so I felt prepared. At this point, all of us were still happy and content after what most people consider a generally miserable plane flight. We all cheered and laughed and made jokes as we came off our 14 hours of traveling, unsure of what this adventure would hold, but knowing that since we were all together, it would be a blast. We only had two certainties about Lake Como - that George Clooney has a house there and that "ciao" means both hello and goodbye.

    Getting to the hotel was a little more strenuous than any of us expected. The bus dropped us off in the middle of a seemingly chaotic street. Pinta gave us a quick warning -- "By the way, the cars won't stop for you" -- and we were instructed to get our bags and go to the hotel. At this point, there is only a church and a bank in sight. Jovan led us to a hill, atop of which was our hotel. After 14 hours of travel, each of us with two bags packed to the max, this hill is the biggest one we had ever seen. We would take running the Coliseum over walking up this hill. Don't worry though, we made it up with only about a gallon of sweat lost.

    When we got to the hotel, we couldn't have been happier. The rooms were clean and air conditioned, and we got to have a three-day sleepover with our best friends! Even the church bells that rang at 7:30 am each morning couldn't ruin our vibes. Since we had arrived around 3 pm, we didn't have anything to do until dinner. So we left the hotel, walked down that godforsaken hill, and found the most beautiful body of water known as Lake Como. We all stopped in awe, and instinctively reached to pull out our phones and take pictures.

    After a delightful evening filled with gelato and pasta, we woke up in the morning ready and eager to go up a tram to see the lake from a higher viewpoint. On the way to the lookout point, we found ourselves on a hike similar to what I believe Mt. Kilimanjaro would be like. Just imagine how happy we were that we all wore flip flops and sandals, thinking it would be a quick walk! Some mild groaning occurred since the hike was all rocks, but when we found the light house at the top of the hill, it was all worth it. Not only did we have an amazing view of Lake Como, but we found a little piece of Italian history that secludes itself to those who seek it out.

    Later that day, our group splintered off into smaller sections of people who wanted to wake up at different times and see different sights. My group began at the Duomo. The architecture of 15th century churches is incomparable. The ceilings are high enough to reach the heavens, and the drop of a single euro coin leads to resounding clanking throughout the church. There are armies of candles scattered in different places, honoring religious figures. The church is cross shaped; Holy Mother Mary holding court in the right wing, and Jesus on the cross in the left. We left feeling very cultured, and glad we had all brought jackets to cover our shoulders so that we could enter the church. We then wandered around more of the city finding various smaller churches, little green doors leading to interesting courtyards (but mostly dead ends), gelato, and sensational coffee.

    We had our first scrimmage that day, and we were lucky enough to play in a pool just a few meters away from the lake, at sunset. Although we are not in season, or even approaching season, we always take each scrimmage or game as seriously as possible. It was nice having less intensity, and playing in a beautiful place can't be topped.

    Our last day in Como approached, and we took it to the fullest. We awoke bright and early, ready to go to Bellagio. This meant a 45-minute boat ride on the "fast boat" across the lake. We passed George Clooney's house, so if anyone is interested, contact me and I can give you details. Bellagio was bellisimo, and also had canolis!

    That same day was our second scrimmage of the trip, in Lugano, Switzerland. As we crossed the border, everyone glowed with excitement that we were going to a place not on the itinerary. Unfortunately, it seemed as though Lugano might have been on siesta while we were there. However, like Como, the pool was right on a lake and had a gorgeous backdrop. It took all of our might not to break out into the Sound of Music as we warmed up. We played against a "boys team" (suuuure Casey) and shared laughter and a delicious meal with the hosting team afterwards, complete with homemade Nutella crepes.

    Lake Como may not be filled with museums or major landmarks like Rome or Florence, but it was the small experiences we had and the things we learned about that made us really connect to the history and culture around us. Como was the perfect opener to our European adventure, and I can't wait to see what is next.

    Fight On!
    Nicola Gonzales

    Read them all!
    EURO BLOG 1: Como, Italy (by Nicola Gonzales)
    EURO BLOG 2: Bogliasco, Italy (by Stephania Haralabidis)
    EURO BLOG 3: Zadar, Croatia (by Dagmar Gudmundsson)
    EURO BLOG 4: Herceg Novi, Montenegro (by Brianna Daboub)