Saturday, June 7, 2008
Day 8, Wednesday, May 21 We had checked out our route to the train station on Monday and had returned there on Tuesday to buy our train tickets to Milan, but we were dreading the five-block walk dragging our luggage. The day dawned beautifully, the sun was shining and the temperature so pleasant, much like we had expected the whole week to be. The Italians have been talking about how unusual this continuous rain is for them. They have told us there is rain this time of year, but it only lasts a short time, usually! The walk to the station was really not bad at all; we were considerate and so were others on the narrow sidewalk and we got there with plenty of time to spare. We chose second-class tickets not knowing what to expect of these, but were real glad we did as we boarded the train and found the car absolutely wonderful, comfortable and clean. The 3-hour ride to Milan was a joy; we saw beautiful scenery and passed through long tunnels through mountains, scooted across vineyards, citrus and cornfields. The time went by quickly and Alan didn’t even sleep; I enjoyed crocheting in-between my views of the scenery. Promptly at 12:00, as expected, we pulled into the train station in Milan. Now, solving the mysteries of navigating Milan began! Little-by-little we figured out everything we needed to know to store our bags, visit Milan and then get to our airport hotel an hour away. At the tourist information booth, the man was quite helpful and provided us with a map. It was a relief to be without our bags; and we sat in the sun and enjoyed a ham and cheese sandwich we brought along from the hotel breakfast nook this morning. The snack was just the energy boost we needed to go two flights below the street to catch the subway directly to the Piazza Duomo where its Cathedral is breathtaking. I particularly loved our stroll through the Galleria Vitorio Emmanuele II, known as the “living room of Milan.” It is immediately clear that the juxtaposition of the ancient architecture with modern fashion icons like Prada, Louis Vitton, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent and the ubiquitous McDonalds all on this sun-filled walkway is what makes Milan the unique city that it is! We continued our walk, following the map, past La Scala Threatre and then on to Montenapoleone, “The Fifth Avenue of Milan.” This walk was definitely JUST window shopping! Once at the end, we circled around until we found a small shop where we had our last cappuccino of this trip. Afternoon “capu” is definitely a way of life I could get used to! Retracing our steps along the avenue, we were one stop closer to the train station, so we hopped on the subway to return there. By now we felt like experts in navigating the train station; retrieved our luggage and headed for the bus stop for our ride to the airport. We were supposed to call the hotel when we were at the airport for them to send a shuttle, but as we stepped off the bus we saw the shuttle zip by and stop up ahead, so we ran to catch it: -erfect timing! Recommended by Sandy, the First Hotel is wonderful; there is even internet in the room! We dined in the hotel and enjoy our last variety of tasty breads and pasta before arranging a 3:45 wake-up call for the morning shuttle to the airport ARREVEDERCI, ITALY!