Archive for the 'travel' Category

Travel Guide to Lago Maggiore, Italy

Wow, I’m like REALLY behind on my posting here.. New job, new dog – you know how it goes ;-).  But seriously, not cool, and thanks for sticking around! I have this post in draft since returning from our Honeymoon almost a year ago (August 26 – September 3), so it’s about time I’d finish writing & publishing it. Pics from our honeymoon are on Facebook.

Similar to my Beginners Guide to Prague post, this one will follow the same format – general information, the schedule, tips and best practices. Each day’s title links to a Google Maps route, so you’ll have a better understanding of distances/times. If you have comments or suggestions, don’t be shy – share away, here on tweet me @dvirreznik.

The view from our room @ Hotel Astoria Stresa

The view from our room @ Hotel Astoria Stresa

General Information

When traveling to any country you have two options:

  • Stay at one place and take day trips – the relaxed option
  • Plan a course and drive, sleeping at different city every night.

Being on our honeymoon, we preferred the more relaxed format, taking daily trips to the major attractions in Northern Italy. Lago di Como, Lago di Maggiore and Lago di Garda are the three biggest lakes in northern Italy and we opted for Lake Maggiore and the town of Stresa as our honeymoon location. There’s plenty to do in the area, all within a day’s drive, even visiting Como – although we didn’t see George there. We pre-ordered our car (Hertz) in Israel, and even got ‘a honeymoon upgrade’ – from Ford Focus (Group D) to Mercedes SLK200 (Group W6)!

On the water, literally @ lake Como

On the water, literally @ lake Como

Communication-wise, it was before my Onavo days, so we had two phones: Nokia E72 with an Israeli SIM (texting, incoming calls) and a Samsung/Android with pre-paid Italian SIM for data and outgoing calls. The SIM was about 15 Euro, 250MB data and 200min calls – but remember to have your passport with you when purchasing it.

We also brought with us a Mio C320 Car GPS – which was probably one of the best decisions we did. You have no idea how easy it is to drive in a foreign country with those devices, not getting lost even once, and at times using it for in-city navigation, before buying the Italian SIM and launching Google Maps on our Android phone.

Wife and I have a rule – we’re NOT eating in fast food places when we travel (at home either), so supermarkets were our first or second stop of the day. Picking up 6-pack of 1.5l water bottles, fruits, bread, sliced salmon or salami, snacks – and off we went. We ended up doing spontaneous picnics in gorgeous places.


Day 1

Sforzesco Castle, Milano

Sforzesco Castle, Milano

Landing in Milano Malpensa Airport late AM, we drove to Milano for a short visit, an hour’s drive. Milan Cathedral, Piazza del Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Sforzesco Castle were among the places we visited – definitely worth staying more, if you can spare it. Around 4/5PM we entered Hotel Astoria (recommended hotel) to the GPS and drove away.

Arriving around 9pm, hungry, decided to go to the center, 5min walk, grab something to eat. You remember our wedding in NYC back in 2010, at City Hall, where we grabbed someone we saw at the hall? Guess who was dining next to us, in Stresa, Italy? Joelle (aka our witness) and her husband!! What are the odds..

Tip: if you’re visiting Milano with a car, make sure to have change for the parking meter. Wouldn’t want to get a ticket on the very first day.

Day 2

Day 2 was dedicated to Stresa and the small garden islands in Lake Maggiore: Isola Bella, Isola Borromeo and Isola Madre. It was a bit cloudy, so we postponed the Stresa-Mottarone Funivia to a brighter day, and did a relaxed day in the city and boat ride to two of the three islands.

Tip: Isola Bella, ‘The Beautiful Island’, is a P-E-R-F-E-C-T location for a picnic. Get what you need before boarding the boat, make sure you bring wine and plenty of water.

Day 3

At the bottom of Cascata del Toce @ Formazza

At the bottom of Cascata del Toce @ Formazza

If you’re into hiking, make sure you pin Cascata del Toce (Val Formazza). This waterfall, ‘The Most Beautiful, the most powerful among the waterfalls of the Alps’, is the highest in Italy and 2nd highest in Europe – a must-see sight! It will take you 2.5 hours to get there (BTW – perfect road for a sporty little roadster like SLK200 Kompressor!), plus another 3 hours to walk down (and back up) the 143m fall to the base. Cascata del Toce is open June till September, but ask your hotel concierge to verify opening hours.

Tip: Before arriving, stop at a local store, get some food, wine, have a picnic at the bottom of the fall. We even had a 30min nap before climbing back up.

Day 4

For day 4 we decided to drive to Lake Como and visit the cities of Como and Bellagio. Lake Como is like a upside ‘Y’, with the city of Como situated on the western leg, Bellagio right in the center. The drive to Como takes about 2 hours, highway most of the way, very easy. When arriving to Como, we were even more pleased for opting to stay at Stresa – Como has become to ‘touristy’, lots of people, noise, promenade was under renovation work – which meant the hotels on the first line suffered the most. After a short walk + lunch (again, supermarket and picnic on the promenade), we drove north, towards Bellagio. From Bellagio you take a ferry boat to Mennagio, where we ate dinner at a local restaurant before heading back to Stresa.

Tip: Dedicate a few hours to visit 2-3 of Lake Como Villas, such as Villa Carlotta and Villa d’Este.

Bellagio, Lago di Como

Bellagio, Lago di Como

Day 5

Lake Maggiore is mostly Italian, but if you drive north along the shore, you’ll reach Switzerland in an hour. We dedicated the day to visit the Swiss cities of Locarno and Lugano, and before crossing the border stopped at Cannero Riviera, a European summer resort, very popular with the Nordic guys and gals. Good thing Hertz upgraded us to SLK200 – we felt a bit more at home arriving to Locarno and especially Lugano – Ferrari, Bentley and Porsche are a common sighting, fitting the wealthy population of those cities.

Tip: Head back to Stresa due south and stop at Campione d’Italia, an Italian municipality that is separated from Italy, located at the Swiss Lake Lugano. Beautiful little place, especially at dawn. Perfect for a short Italian coffee before hitting the road.

Locarno, Lake Maggiore, Switzerland

Locarno, Lake Maggiore, Switzerland

That’s about it. Overall we had 8 days of pure fun and relaxation. We could have driven to Venice and spend the night there, but decided against it eventually. Waking up each day to those deep blues of Lago di Maggiore was really all we needed.

Amsterdam – here I come!

You wouldn’t believe how many draft posts I have here, stuff I read, encountered, experienced, and just couldn’t find the time to write. Not to mention the birthday weekend I spent with the wife in London. I hoped the Passover vacation will provide some freedom, but shortly after returning from London, our startup received awesome news – we’ve been accepted as a finalist to launch Onavo at TheNextWeb Startup Rally 2011 in Amsterdam!!

That’s the beauty of working at a startup – always on the move, always changing, always thinking ‘what if’. And TheNextWeb Conference 2011 is a major ‘what if’, which was part of my marketing plan with the possibility to literally disrupt everything we’re doing, preparing to launch our product to the world.

So, this week, Wednesday to Friday (27-29 April), I’ll be at Amsterdam with our Co-Founders, roaming the halls of TheNextWeb Conference. Onavo is presenting on stage Friday around 12:00 CET, right after Scoble keynote presentation on the main stage. To catch all the action from Amsterdam and TheNextWeb Conference, follow my Twitter feed, @dvirreznik, or the official TNW/TheNextWeb accounts. We’ve also tweaked the homepage a bit, counting to the launch – check it out.

See you in Amsterdam!

London? Yes, London!

I’ll be traveling to London this week for both business and pleasure, arriving on Wednesday the 6th and leaving on Monday the 11th. Wed-Thu is business oriented, with meetings and events, and the weekend is pleasure of course – celebrating my birthday (April 9th)!

The entire trip is pretty packed, but I’ll be happy to meet and chat with anyone, if time permits. Thursday is probably the best day for those random meetups, so shout away – either comment here or better yet on Twitter, @dvirreznik.

My last visit in London was for Nokia World 2010, a very short one (60 hours, give or take), during which I saw very little of the British capital, so this time I expect to do more tourist stuff. Would love to hear your recommendations: good restaurants, theater and musicals, tourist attractions, music performances, what ever comes to mind. Again, comment here of reach out on Twitter.

Onavo for iPhone (beta) – get your invite here!

The journey isn’t over yet, and the last 2 weeks were chaotic here, working on final touches and de-bugging the webapp, but now I can officially invite you guys and gals, iPhone-ers of you at least, to download Onavo for iPhone (beta)!

Onavo iPhone iconOur co-founders are attending Barcelona this week, roaming the halls of Mobile World Congress 2011, along with an estimated 44,998 other people, handing out 1,000 personalized invites to join our beta. Yes, it’s a closed beta, by invitation only, but guess what – I pulled some strings, and have 100 invites for you, to download Onavo for iPhone (beta). All you need to do is open your iPhone’s Safari browser, enter ‘‘, follow the instructions and start saving on data roaming.

Remember, we’re still in beta – so bear with us, and also let us know what you think. We welcome any idea, suggestion and feedback. 100 invites – ready, set, go 🙂

Oh, and if you’re at MWC this week, ping @guyro and @roitiger – they’d love to meet you. Might even get an Onavo schwag 😉

Day of Mourning – Carmel Fire

Thursday, Dec. 2nd, will be declared a National Day of Mourning in Israel, to commemorate one of the toughest disasters in our country’s history – The Carmel Wildfire (still raging). Emergency forces are describing the fire using war terms, and many agree that, excluding the wars – this disaster is the biggest and most complicated Israel has ever faced.

Carmel Fire, Thursday night (Dec. 2nd)

Carmel Fire, Thursday night (Dec. 2nd), at Tirat Hacarmel. By Niv Calderon

Starting small near the Village of Nucleus (also see Google Map below) on Thursday at 10:45am, the wildfire picked up with the winds, changed direction west to road 721, and trapped a bus conveying 40 Prison Guards on route to evacuate a nearby detention facility. 37 died on the bus, 3 escaped, presumed dead.

The remains of the prison guards' bus

The remains of the prison guards' bus, Carmel Fire. By Niv Calderon

Pictures by Niv Calderon. Additional pictures from the disaster area at

View שריפה בכרמל – חדשות 2 באינטרנט in a larger map

The fire burst on the 2nd day of Hannuka, a Jewish holiday celebrating the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, marking the rededicating of the Temple in Jerusalem (Second Temple). The olive oil in the temple’s eternal fire was enough for one day, but miraculously it burned for 8 days – exactly the time needed to prepare fresh olive oil.

Carmel Fire, captured by The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

Carmel Fire, captured by The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Click image for original

My heart goes out to the families who have lost their loved ones and to the emergency forces working around the clock to extinguish the fire. Special thanks to Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Britain and Russia for sending their fire-fighting aircrafts to assist.

Next Page »

Mobile & Media Consultant. I help startup companies launch products to the consumer market. Reach out: dvir.reznik [at]



This is my personal blog. The postings here do not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my past employers or of my clients. It is solely my opinion.