Friday, November 16, 2012

Another Childhood Dream Come True

The weekend of Nov. 1-4 I went to Milan with my friends. If I had to describe Milan like it was a person I would say that it is that bratty mean girl that no one likes but pretends to think highly of anyways. Milan is all about it's image. You want clothing stores, make up stores, shoe stores? Great, you could walk into one if you had your eyes closed. You want a grocery store or a pharmacy? Good luck! Apparently people in Milan don't eat or care about health. Also, everything closed at about 6pm. So what were we supposed to do after 6pm? After we found a grocery story (a hike away) we had wine and snacks and were fine. But before that it was rough. For having the reputation of being a hard working city, Milan sure doesn't seem like it. Stuff doesn't open until 10am and it closes at 6pm. I'm confused. It's also not super tourist friendly. Which is weird because I didn't feel that way in Rome. But, all complaining aside, it was a fabulous and relaxing trip. 

Elaine, Kayla and I hopped on a plane and flew to Milan. We checked into our hotel (which was way nicer than we thought it would be) and dealt with the lizard in the shower. It was quite a process. The lizard ended up losing its tail. It was awful. Before that we stopped by the train station which was around the corner from our hotel and looked at train tickets. We had decided to take a day trip somewhere on Saturday. The original plan was Lake Como because it was close and well priced. I suggested maybe we could look at Venice, just because. The price wasn't bad at all, it wasn't too far away, so spur of the moment we bought them. I was on top of the world. I had originally wanted to go to Venice but it had been too expensive. I couldn't believe things had worked out the way they had. Then we ate the dinner we had brought with us, walked around and came to the sad realization that nothing is open at 9pm in Milan. We watched MTV music videos in our hotel room and went to sleep.

We slept in, rolled out of bed, mastered the metro and made our way to the Duomo. The Duomo is a huge and beautiful cathedral. We were able to get in and look around for free and we had to pay a little extra for a couple of the rooms. But it was a pretty cheap trip overall. After the Duomo we walked through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It had a bunch of designer shops like Prada and Luis Vuitton. It also had a bunch of Zodiac Mosaics on the ground. It's good luck to spin on the bull's balls so we all took our turn. Then we kept walking to the Piazza della Scala. Teatro alla Scala is one of the word's best opera houses. It actually doesn't look that great from outside, but I'm sure it's great on the inside. Then we walked around the some of the most fashionable streets of Milan. We went into shops like Dior, Burberry, Gucci, etc. They were more like museums for beautiful clothes than actual stores. We stopped by the Museo Bagatti Valsecchi which was an apartment complex that belonged to two bothers around 1897. It was full of old furniture and other knick knacks. After that we continued to feel inferior and poor in designer shops and made our way back to our hotel for dinner. Since we were on a budget and we couldn't find a super market (believe me, we tried), we went to McDonalds. I hadn't been to McDonalds in the longest time so it was fun for me. When we got back to the hotel we asked the man behind the desk if there was a super market near by. He said it was a little ways away and it might not be open but he pointed us in the direction. It was open! So we bought wine and snacks for the train ride to Venice. Then we realized that we didn't have a way of opening the wine. But Milan was giving us a break, the nice men who worked at the supermarket opened the wine bottles for us.
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We were up bright and early at 6:30am to catch our train to Venice. We took the five hour train ride and arrived in Venice. Our first view was of the Grand Canal. We were all pretty excited so we spent the first half hour reminding each other we were in Venice and took pictures. I had bought my very own guide to Italy so going by its recommendation we hopped on a water bus that took us from one side of the city all the way to the Piazza San Marco on the Grand Canal. I took so many pictures because Venice looks like it's a whole other world. I knew that the majority of Venice was canals and water, but I guess I just didn't believe it. It's more common to own a boat there than a car for transportation. We wandered around Piazza San Marco for a while and then went off to find a restaurant that my guidebook recommended. As mean as Milan was to us, that's how nice Venice was. We were kind of wandering in the direction of where we thought the restaurant would be when Kayla found and fell in love with a pair of beautiful leather boots. Even though we had no idea where this restaurant might be, we accidently stumbled on the right location anyway. The meal was delicious (I had pizza and beer) and affordable. After that we followed a walk that my guidebook suggested around Venice. We stopped along the way and got most of our gift shopping out of the way. The walk took us around to different squares that were much less crowded and let us stop and admire how amazing Venice was. We didn't get to finish the walk or go inside anywhere because we had to catch our train back to Milan. After doing the math we realized that we spent 7 or 8 ours round trip on the train to spend 5 hours in Venice. It was definitely worth it.

It was rainy and grey, so we complained about how much Milan must hate us and how much we hated Milan. It was a frequent conversation topic that weekend. We spent our last day in Milan at Castello Sforzesco. It used to be a huge fortress with lots of history, but now it houses a bunch of museums. For a pretty good price we got a ticket that worked in all of the museums and wandered around. We started in the museum of antiquities. I want to say we learned a lot, but actually we went through all of the sabers and swords and picked the ones we liked the best. We did get to see Rondanini Pietá. An unfinished sculpture and last known work of Michelangelo. After that we went to a furniture museum. Then we got more pizza, got our luggage and headed to the airport. 
And that was Milan. Although we complained a lot, we had a great time. I think the best part was the spontaneous trip to Venice. I've realized I'm a huge fan of Italy and I want to see more of it. So far the checklist includes Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Milan and Venice. I have my handy new guidebook now so the grand Italian tour planning has commenced. 

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