Tuesday, Oct. 12
Yesterday we arrived in Milan. We missed the early train from Venice thanks to a bus driver who kicked us off for not pre-buying tickets – something we did they day before.
Anyway, we finally arrived at Milan central train station. That was the simple part. Finding our hotel – that was a nightmare.
I think each hostel/hotel in Europe does the same thing: they look for one person who speaks about four words of English to write the directions from the local airport, train or bus station.
The directions for our hotel (yes, another hotel – again, cheaper in the long run) were too good to be true.
“Take bus 90 and get off at Viale Corsica-Via Battistotti Sassi. We are across from Supermarcato.”
Awesome. We have the bus number, the stop and we’re right by a supermarket.
In reality, the supermarket was down a back alley, up a block, one street to the right and three to the left.
We ended up at a park five blocks away, on the opposite side of the highway. As I jogged around the block, searching for our supermarcato, Matt and Kylie flagged down every Italian on the street.
While one thought Kylie was begging for money, the others helped as best they could. Locals were waving down other locals, cars were pulling over and one man even ran to get his map.
When we finally found our luxurious one-star hotel, they had a problem with the room and sent us to Hostel Diablo, which I’m pretty sure means devil.
Sweaty, tired and frustrated, we started to lug our stuff down the street.
Halfway there, the check-in guy stopped us and offered us a free upgrade at the hotel, so we went back.
(Oh yah – that free upgrade we received in Mykonos wasn’t free at all. The woman’s son who showed us to our room apparently didn’t understand English. So when he said, “Free upgrade for the same price,” he really meant, “I’m going to show you a nicer room for which you have to pay way more.” In the end they split the difference because we were so peeved.)
The two days we spent in Milan’s city centre were amazing. Granted, it took us about 55 minutes to get there because the transit was down on our street, but it was a nice walk.
The Milan Cathedral made the hassle worth while.
According to Frommer’s Travel Guides, the Gothic cathedral took five centuries to complete and is the fourth-largest church in the world.
While Kylie and I appreciated its beauty, Matt was positively floored.
I asked Matt how he would describe the cathedral, and he said he simply doesn’t understand how it was built back then – let alone how someone could build it with today’s technology and equipment.
While the Gothic cathedral is Milan’s official trademark, I would say it’s unofficial icon is Louis Vuitton. If you don’t have an oversized Louis Vuitton bag, (fake or real) you’re a nobody.
And if you’re not wearing a suite, fur or high heels, you’re below dirt.
We even saw a homeless man wearing a suit.
I’ve never felt so self-conscious and poor. I understand we’re backpacking and it’s one of the last things I need to worry about, but I’m still a girl, and I think any female would understand that.
While we loved the big city, we’re really excited to get to Florence so we can have a central location. From there we will visit Pisa, Cinque Terre and Perugia.
In Pisa we’ll see the leaning tower, in Cinque Terre we’ll hike a trail connecting a number of small villages on the waterfront and in Perugia we’ll be hitting up Eurochocolate 2010 – Europe’s biggest chocolate festival.
Now I don’t want to get my hopes up too high for Eurochocolate 2010, but I’m picturing a fountain spewing chocolate, with marshmallows, strawberries and kiwis floating in the middle. And of course when they see us, they will hand pick me to swim around in the fountain for the day. Mmmm.