We left home on September 1, flying direct from Dulles International Airport, just outside of Washington, DC, to Heathrow in London and then on to Milan’s Malpensa Airport. The initial flight was a red-eye that left Dulles at about 6:30 PM ET on Saturday and arrived in Milan at about 10:30 AM local time. There’s a six-hour time difference, so it felt like 4:30 AM ET when we arrived.
Rather than stay in an airport hotel, we opted for one closer to the motorcycle rental facility on the outskirts of the city. After all, that’s the whole reason we flew into Milan.
The cab ride cost about 80 Euros, which is just over $100.
We tried to stay awake, which is usually recommended to get over the time zone change, but ended up taking a three-hour nap. I was already exhausted before we left and hadn’t slept a wink on the plane. By the time we arrived at the hotel, I was so tired, I felt physically ill.
The nap helped. Our motorcycle rental didn’t start until Monday morning. Since we had some spare time on Sunday, we headed into the city to see Milan’s Duomo (cathedral church), the second-largest church in Europe that can supposedly hold 40,000 people.
No, that’s not a typo. I did say forty thousand.
We walked to a nearby train station and headed into the city. Sounds easy, right? First, it took us a while to find the train station. It was only about a quarter mile from the hotel, but you couldn’t see it from the hotel. The hotel reception clerk told us to turn right from the entrance of the hotel, walk to the street, turn left, walk straight and we’d see the station.
Keep in mind, we were in a town outside of Milan, not in the city itself. The train station was tiny (unlike Milan’s central station, which is HUGE).
Once we eventually found the station, the trick became figuring out the timetables, buying a ticket, finding the right platform, etc. After a just a little bit of back and forth, we did manage to find the train. And we even boarded the one going in the right direction.
Typically, for trips like this, I spend the week or two before the trip getting ready. Lining up all of the details. Like how to get from our hotel to the train station (I’d normally print a map in advance). Researching restaurants in the vicinity of our hotels. Writing down sights to visit and noting their locations on a map.
With Mom’s passing and everything I was doing related to that in the weeks preceding the trip, I didn’t get any of that normal advance trip planning accomplished. Heck, I didn’t even go back to my house until Thursday night. I worked on Friday, packed my bags Friday night, then we left Saturday morning to take our dogs to the dog sitter’s house (my mother in law), then headed for the airport.
As a result, we floundered a bit more than usual. It was all part of the adventure.
There were all kinds of sights to absorb on our walk from the railway station in the city to our destination.
HINT… click on each image to get a larger view.
We were not hugely impressed by Milan. Granted, our visit was brief. We had no idea what we were looking at. We didn’t know where anything was. Also, we’d only been in Italy for a few hours and just weren’t comfortable yet. It takes a little time to get used to floundering one’s way through a world presented in an unfamiliar language.
For me, one of the coolest aspects of visiting Italian cities and towns was never knowing what you would find around a corner. We were walking down an otherwise blah street when I happened to look down a cross street and spotted the scene captured in the image above.
Very cool, eh?
I never did get used to see women in skirts and dresses riding bicycles and scooters. Quite amusing, but also quite normal.
People-watching was fun. Really. During our time in Italy, we experienced the full gamut of best- and worst-dressed people ever.
Hubby was tickled to spot this Mini Cooper SUV (the black one) conveniently parked in front of a standard Mini.
Who knew there were Mini SUVs? Now there’s an oxymoron for you!
This statue of Leonardo da Vinci was quite popular. In upcoming posts, you may notice that I have a thing for statues.
When we finally reached the square housing the Duomo, Hubby and I were appalled to see thousands of people waiting to get into the Duomo. Since we’d been walking past a mysterious line of people for blocks and blocks, we weren’t completely surprised. But still. That was a LOT of people. As much as we would have liked to have seen the inside, we decided just to look at the outside instead. That was impressive enough.
Now, had I done my research, I would have known that Milan’s central plaza (piazza, pronounced pee-ott-za) is one of Italy’s most-visited destinations. Not only is it the home of the Duomo, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is also on the piazza.
This is apparently the city’s premier shopping destination. It was full of people, too. But the architecture was rather impressive.
Here are some snapshots showing the storefronts in the Galleria of two of Italy’s most-famous merchants…
We walked right past those. Honestly, we didn’t go into any of the stores. It was getting late by that point and all we both wanted to do was find a place to eat dinner and then go to sleep. Since the city was so crowded, we agreed to just head back to the hotel and eat dinner there.
Unfortunately, the hotel’s restaurant was closed.
Lucky for us, there was a supermarket nearby where we bought some bread, deli meats, cheese, dessert, and water. Then we headed for our room to enjoy a picnic/dinner in bed.
After that, we crashed. That’s how Day 1 in Italy ended.
I’ll share some of the images I captured of the statues outside Milan’s Duomo in another post.