Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Mellowness in Milan.

Reeling from a heavy night out celebrating Matthew's birthday, we scrambled about frantically trying to last minute pack our bags for the trip ahead. With two hours to go I realised I'd foolishly left my phone in a taxi the night before and find-my-iphone located it 35 minutes away on the other side of Coventry. Speedily we hopped in my car, dropped the boys from home off at the megabus stop, and, with the windows down, happened to coincidentally hear my iphone making sounds and bumped into the man that had it! Oh, and my purse - oops. Luck was on my side. After pegging it to the train station realising I'd left my camera behind and doubling-back, I made it just in time to catch the pre-booked train we were due for. Looking down I realised I had way too much stuff but it was too late to do anything about it now. All I could do was prey RyanAir wouldn't dispute it was 'hand-luggage' size (definitely was not)! Given I've always been scared my tiny little handbag wouldn't be allowed, I was taking an unprecedented risk personally haha. I think I packed more for this trip then I did for South-East Asia for two months - That's what happens when you drunkenly pack.

My 'hand luggage'.
"Quick, run away!" "Damn it, you caught me." 
Anyway, after a few hours, a quick nap and a couple of trains, we arrived to Stansted, got checked in and set off to Milan. Upon arrival I messaged a mutual friend of ours who lives there, and she directed us to her apartment in downtown Milan. The train from MLP airport cost €11 and ran around every 30 minutes. The tube then cost a further €1.50 and was valid for 90 minutes from validation. Eventually we ended up at her beautiful apartment with two beds set up beautifully for us. It was lovely to see Olivia as she usually lives in Australia and as you'll see from photos, she's the girl I first adventured with at 18 around South-East Asia. Although we were all very tired and Olivia had upcoming exams to revise for, we decided to venture out for a quick drink. Olivia showed us some of the nice sites by her apartment - including a plaza area where groups gather in the summer to drink. I wish we could have been there to experience it! Apparently it's rife for pick-pockets though so be careful around Milan. 

We ended up at a really cute indie little hideaway, however, after waiting 20 minutes watching the two bartenders painfully make a million cocktails with little indication of serving us soon, we decided to leave and headed for a gazebo shaded café where the drinks were far cheaper but the atmosphere was dire. It was great to catch up anyway. One thing I would note though is that there's so many annoyances in Milan from people coming up to you trying to sell you things if you decide to sit outside - despite being there about 30 minutes, 3 men tried to sell us roses! Anyway, we then ventured home and slept off the hangover. 


Out the door by 10am, Olivia led us on a super-speed tour to the cathedral and then to Sforza Castle where she left to revise. Sforza castle was built in mid 15th century by Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan, where an old fort used to be. In the 17th C it was one of the largest citadels in Europe, but today it just has lots of museums inside it. We visited the Museum of Ancient Art for €3 (reduced student ticket). It had armoury, tapestry and sculptures in it. Personally I didn't find it very interesting, but it was a way to stay out of the rain and learn a little about the Sforza period of Milan.

After we wandered back to the Cathedral/ Duomo and decided to venture inside. It cost €2 (for anyone), to enter the Duomo, Museum and Church of S.Gottardo in Corte. We only visited the Duomo. It was nice inside and I said a quick prayer before we decided to head for a bite to eat. We went to 'Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II' shopping mall which is located just next to the Duomo and sat down for a pizza and drink (roughly €15 each). Killing some time strolling around and grabbing some Amsterdam chips too, we headed back to Olivia's and grabbed our belongings, said our farewells and hopped on the train to the megabus stop - thankfully not too far out from the city.

Overall opinion of Milan? Olivia can't rave enough about it, and it sounds like a completely fantastic place to do a semester or year abroad, however, as the second most populous place in Italy I expected more. Visitor wise - frankly, there isn't a lot to do! 3 of the top 10 things on tripadvisor for example are 'Duomo', 'Duomo Square' and 'Duomo rooftops' - essentially the same things. Of course you can see Di'Vinca's last supper painting, however, this has to be booked well in advance. It's a very easy city to walk around, but in the rain felt a bit miserable. Olivia will kill me for saying this, but I found it under-whelming, it was a classic European city with its wide streets, tram and main cathedral attraction (very different to Rome in this sense). I probably wouldn't ever go back now I've crossed it off, but who knows, maybe you'll love it - Don't take my opinion, go check it out for yourself.

Olivia and I outside Milan Cathedral, come rain or shine.
Matthew's many faces when I ask him to 'smile'! Inside the cathedral.

Milan Cathedral 

Sforza Castle.
The Portale del Banco Mediceo
 Lunch at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. 

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