Catie's Semester Abroad in Lugano travel blog

Waiting at the station for our first train

Funny entertainer in Bellinzona's market square

Some of the market square in Bellinzona

Our first Doner Kebab experience

One of the roundabouts in Bellinzona with a castle in the background

View from the driveway of the Castel Grande...palm trees with a snowy...

Me & Brittany outside one of the castle entrances

Me & Matt w/ another view of downtown Bellinoza

All of the girls who went to Bellinzona for the day

One of the town squares

Lugano at sunset from the Montarina's balcony

Another view of Lugano at sunset

Me & Kelly at our first Peter Pan Bar experience

Hey all!

I'm just doing a quick entry because we have some down time and I can finally catch up on my journaling/facebooking but unfortunately emails down here so I can't catch up on that! The internet here has been spotty, but this year they added wireless. Technically it's just for the people staying in the Montarina as more temporary guests, but of course everyone in the VT group has sneakily been using it as well. Yesterday a group of 6 of us took the train to Bellinzona. We didn't have any experience with the train system before, so it wasn't smart to leave the Montarina at 9:50am to catch the 10am train. Since being here I wonder if some of the Swiss speak some English, but just don't feel like helping us. We were trying to find the ticket booth but it was hard to find directions since the people here could only speak Italian. The Swiss also speak French and German, so I have been able to communicate with broken French (very, very broken haha) to figure out where something is. Our group ended up catching the 10:30am train, which was fine because we still got to Bellinzona at 11. There's a market in Bellinzona each Saturday until noon, so we caught the tail end of it. There was a mixture of gifts you could get for people like pottery or hand-sewn clothing, but you could also get your breads, meat, and cheese for the week. It was interesting to see all of the people doing their grocery shopping at the market, and it was hard to maneuver through all of the people with their carts. We stopped at a place that had Doner Kebabs for lunch. I had never heard of these, but our "House Dad" was raving about them so we decided to be adventurous (Mom you should be so proud). Sidenote- each year usually a "House Mom" comes, who has recently graduated and been on the Lugano trip before. They stay in the Montarina with all of us, and are basically there if you have any questions about where to go or what's fun to do in the area. This year we have a Mom and a Dad, they went to Lugano together and ended up getting married a week before we left. That would be nice getting a 4 month honeymoon around Europe, although I can also see how looking over 45 college students could get stressful. Okay so anyways, after lunch- which turned out to be pretty good- we walked to the main castle in Bellinzona. There was a lot to explore around the castle, and there were some gorgeous views since it was on a big hill. We took a LOT of pictures, eventually I'll get a webshots or some kind of website to upload all of them. I'm happy we went to Bellinzona for our first 'excursion' because it was only a 30 minute train ride away, and not too big a city to get overwhelmed. There was a pretty church we walked in and explored for a little and then took the train home. Everyone wanted to relax before going out for the night, so we stopped at the Migros (grocery store) to cook stuff in the Montarina's kitchen. A guy on the trip Matt and I split a premade pizza, which was so easy to make and only cost us 3 francs each. We're already figuring out ways to pinch pennies so we can splurge on other meals/trips later. Everyone in the VT group went to the Peter Pan bar for the night, which apparently is a rite of passage. It was fun but I am so exhausted from this whole week from lack of sleep and lots of walking, and I think I'm coming down with a cold. I let myself sleep in today until around 10:30am, and a group of us went to a cafe for tea and hot chocolate (which basically is melted chocolate). All of the shops and a lot of the restaurants/cafes are closed on Sundays so we just walked around and explored more of Lugano. I like how everyone here takes Sunday as a day off, because it's a reminder sometimes I don't take enough time to recharge. I think tonight a group of us is just going to walk around Lugano to find a nice place for dinner, and take it easy before our first day of classes. Hope you're all doing well, ciao!

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