Monday, June 15, 2015

Day 19: Mellow Milan

woke to a lovely crisp morning in Venice, all remnants of the night's storms gone. The sun was bright before 5am and I was glad I wouldn't have to walk in the dark. 

I liked that little family hotel, it totally surpassed all my expectations and gave me more. I walked through the neighborhood to get to my train station  and AGAIN, my feet lead me exactly where I needed to go, but my brain second guessed and guessed wrong. I over shot the little street as I was told by another random stranger I accosted.

I doubled back and sure enough I had been there and had wanted to take this picture before I changed my mind. Well, I was meant to take the picture after all.

Train travel is different from planes. Planes I'm used to, go two hours early and wait. Trains, if you aren't there at the assigned times, they take off.

I was there at the right time, got on the right train. Sat in the right seat, except after about 2/3rd of my ride finished, I was told I was on the wrong coach car. I clearly saw 2 on the train but that was wrong. I had been sitting in the 2nd class seats when I had 1st class tickets. 

So I had to drag myself and my bags down the ENTIRE length of the train because I was sitting in train 9 when I was suppose to be in train 2. 

And I had hoped to get a little shut eye. Nope, not a chance. When I finally got to Milan Central I was excited, the station was gorgeous and it as early, only 9am.

I had my phone use my GPS to get me to my hotel. What's 500m? But then the phone said it would be 21mins if I took a bus or a tram. But 10mins if I walked?

I walked, I'm not walking another 500m with all this backpack weight on me. I am my own Sherpa and this Sherpa is tiring.

I got to the hotel eventually, but not before I eyed several suspicious looking men, strolling and doing nothing. Then when I thought I would be lost, I asked another random lady and she told me to keep going up to the light and I'd and I'd find what I was looking for.

I made arrangements to check in early so at 930a I checked in, changed my shirt since I had spilt it all over myself earlier.

I went and found the way to the duomo. My receptionists said #2 bus nine stops and you'll be at the il Duomo.

I didn't count the stops, I just ohh'd and ahh'd at the buildings. So when I turned around and saw incredible spires, I know where I was supposed to be.

So I asked:
He turned his head!
I pointed back "il Duomo?"
Si he replied and I hoped off and was really surprised at how lovely it was.w

But parts were under renovations and a concert was happening at night.

I paid € 15 to enter the chapel, see the archeological dig going on in the crypts and I can take the lift up to the roof. You can walk around the roof of the church. As afraid of heights as I am, I had to do this, you walk along the marble roof, ducking beneath the elegant flying buttresses and see a view of all Milan. There was space enough so I didn't feel like I was going to trip over. 

But there are spots where you have to climb tight spaced staircases where the marble has been worn down over the centuries. Marble looks slick as it is, worn marble looks like it's melted.

You climb up and you climb down and you end up buffeted by strong winds. Luckily the day was bright sunshine with big friendly cumulus clouds.

The very top is another tight climb of marble steps with either a marble balustrade or a thin metal railing to grip. My knuckles were white with my tight grip.

But the climb up to the very top of the roof has you standing right beneath the tallest spire upon which a golden statue of Mother Mary stands. She stands in vigil over the city of Milan who regard her as their patron saint.

My pass also got me into the Duomo Museo for free. I didn't get the guide simply because at this point I was literally down to pennies in my pocket. So whatever you read at this point is mere supposition from me. 

There was a scale wooden model of what the il Duomo was meant to be. Then there were various statues and water spigots that looked like gargoyle mouths and dragons. It was fascinating to be able to look at them up close.

There were silk tapestries and all kinds of historical sculptures of wood and stone. The precision in the details and the 3D -ish sculptures were beautiful.

When I finished, I got my postcards and since I now recognize a post box in Italy, I grabbed a quick bite at a sidewalk café right across from the Duomo. I got a cheap cheese pizza(which is called a marguerite) and a coke zero for the grand amount of €12 +€1 for tip. That Vatican cafe screwed me over left and right for a €35 pizza lunch!(I will never forget it!)

But the server didn't cut the pizza, so I cut it the way I knew was easiest for me, I cut it in squares, a few curious stares but no one accused me of blasphemy.

I addressed my postcards, finished my pizza and mailed them. Then I went to look for my tram. Again I got turned around, got on the right #2 line, but going in the wrong direction. Unfortunately I had already endorsed my ticket so I've learned not to endorse it until I know I'm going in the right direction.

So after one stop, I got off, ran down to the metro to find another ticket machine, bought another ticket and got on the right bus. Again, as has been the case on my travels through Italy, I can't make heads or sense of their street signage but I knew that I was on the right tram because I recognized the retail shops.

By the time I got back to the hotel I was tired but I had to prepare to tomorrow which was going to be a very long day of train travels for me which won't ends until sometime close to midnight.

So I bought cheese, deli meats, bread and a salad to accompany me on my trip. I ate the salad for dinner, one sandwich was for breakfast tomorrow and another was for lunch. I'll have to spend money to get something for dinner, which was fine. 

Milan which had been mild and perfect weather was suddenly torn apart by a vicious thunderstorm. I was on the top floor and the rain pounded loudly. I ran to the window to see a dark, stark stain across the sky and the rain like bullets landing loudly on everything. I opened my window just in time to hear the cacophony of sirens, honking angry cars and the driving rain.

Great sleeping weather!

Good night Milan.

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