On 21st June, my lovely partner (Chris), leaked the surprise that he had been saving for my birthday. He had organised with my boss to take me on a surprise holiday 28th June – 5th July. Not only was the trip for my birthday, but the occasion also marked our 5 years of being together, and it’s been a year since he proposed!
We’ve really been knuckling down at work this year & saving for the wedding, so we have had a longer-than-usual break from holidays and I was in desperate need of one! The road trip took us from Home – Yvoire & Geneva – Annecy – Milan – Lake Como – Home (through Switzerland). I have mapped out the rough route below.
This holiday was going to be different, however. It was going to be the first trip that we took our puppy on. Meiko was 4.5 months old at the time, which introduced a whole new dynamic to our holiday – being “parents” for the first time.
A 16 hour journey from home bought us to the beautiful medieval village of Yvoire, in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alps region of France. We arrived at a painful 6am and our accommodation overlooked Lake Geneva – so we watched the sun rise over Swiss lands before we headed to bed.
We awoke a few hours later and wandered down towards the medieval centre. Chris & I were both absolutely blown away by Yvoire. I’ve never been skiing, but I always preferred the look of skiing villages in the summer – so this ticked every box. It was quiet, peaceful and extremely floral. Picture perfect to say the least.
A word of advice – it didn’t seem as if anywhere in Yvoire served breakfast. There was one small sandwich bar on the Grande Rue that I would recommend; grab a takeaway bagel and eat it at the lakefront!
With Meiko in tow, we were forever being cautious of the boiling hot pavements & the amount of rest she required. There wasn’t any signs saying that dogs were/weren’t allowed in the water, but we had seen other dog walkers before we chanced the lake with Meiko. She’s not much of a swimmer, but Chris certainly enjoyed the crystal waters of the Lake!
I hope I do visit Yvoire again. I have to say it would be in my top 5 of most beautiful places I have visited, and the restaurants all seemed dog-friendly.
After our first day in Yvoire, we decided to travel 45-minutes to Geneva for the evening. Geneva was impressive. I’m a sucker for architecture and so I was smitten by the buildings. However, Geneva was very commercial and hence, expensive. We spent a long time searching for a restaurant that was didn’t feel like a total rip-off.
It’s also worth noting here that we popped into Basel for a McDonalds on our way home. Two McDonalds meals cost 30 Euros!? Need I say much more?
On the 30th June, we headed towards Milan with a pit-stop in Annecy. I hadn’t done much research on Annecy and it was never in the original plan, but I saw the road signs for it and had previously seen pretty photos, so it was worth a visit.
Annecy was probably the most dog-friendly place on our trip. We were invited into air-conditioned souvenir shops, though I don’t know if this is regular treatment or simply due to the abnormal temperatures. There are plenty of water fountains around, good for both humans and dogs on a hot day!
We stayed in the most beautiful little AirBnB in Vigevano, just outside of Milan. We were gutted that we were only staying for a stop-over, but I got plenty of gorgeous photos!
Italy is mine & Chris’ favourite place. If you’ve read my previous blogs you’ll already know that we’re getting married there in just over a year. When we’re in Italy we pretty much just walk around and eat the whole time and whilst in Milan, both of the central restaurants we visited in Milan were happy for us to have the dog outside.
When in cities, we usually head straight for the cathedral’s – they tend to be the most impressive buildings with free or donation entry. If you haven’t visited Italy before, it’s important to note that you will generally be asked to dress conservatively when entering religious areas. Its always handy to carry a denim jacket or light scarf to wrap over your shoulders just incase.
However, we marveled at the Duomo di Milano from the outside, obviously not being able to go inside because of the dog. Although, we could walk through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is truly monumental.
Despite it being common knowledge that Milan is the fashion capital of the world, Chris & I were still climatising to the 30+ degree (Celsius) heat. Hence, we were dressed in vest and shorts and put to shame by the locals who were impeccably dressed without even breaking a sweat on their upper lip. If I visit Milan again, I’ll make sure I’m better dressed!
Lake Como, Italy
Our accommodation at Lake Como was in a very small lakeside village called Onno. Onno was a convenient location, it is smack bang in the middle of Bellagio and Lecco – about a 20-minute drive either way. Onno had three restaurants that we had visited for lunch, so we visited Lecco for dinner twice, and visited Bellagio for a day trip.
There are only about 400 people that live in Onno, so you can imagine that the place provides a very local feel to it. We would take Meiko for a walk before bed, and the residents would talk to the dog starting with “ciao bello”, followed by Italian that unfortunately I can’t understand. All I know is there was a lot of me saying “non ho capito, non parlo italiano”, but from my experience – Italian’s don’t mind that you can’t understand and will carry on talking at you anyway!
Upon Googling “dog-friendly beaches, Lake Como” you can find a handful of results, but the general perception was that Lake Como wasn’t going to be a dog-friendly place at all. I initially had my doubts and thought that Lake Garda may have been the most family/dog-friendly location. However, this was not our experience at all. The host of our AirBnB told us that dogs are welcome at the beach, and although the beaches at Onno weren’t the biggest or the cleanest, they were all that we needed.
We didn’t chance letting Meiko in the water in Bellagio. Again, there were no signs exclusively stating dogs were/weren’t welcome in the water, but with residents such as George Clooney on the lakeside – we used our intuition and decided to keep her away. That being said, the restaurants were friendly, and we were even invited into an art gallery with the dog.
All in all, we had a better than anticipated welcome in all areas regarding the puppy. Restaurants were always accommodating and often provided water for the dog. We were not once made to feel unwelcome in any of the places we visited. Considering the lack of guidance I could find on the web about dog-friendly places around Lake Como, I would highly recommend the areas we visited to those wishing to take their dog. If I visit the Lake Como area again, I will definitely make more of an effort to discover the hiking routes – we couldn’t do much with a puppy that shouldn’t be walked more than 20/25 minutes at a time!
P.S. Don’t forget that you’ll need to get your dog wormed by a vet before returning to the UK! In preparation you should make sure you find an English-speaking practice local to your last road-trip spot.
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