Milan; or, sweaty history: Part One

As we arrive at Sunday, the first travel week of 2017 has come to an end. On Monday, we travelled to Milan via Easyjet from Manchester Airport, and arrived back on Friday. Between those two days were considerable amounts of sweat, a few train journeys, many paintings, and a lot of fries. Okay – a shitload of fries. 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Monday was an early morning, having an early-ish 2:40PM flight. This involved the ‘shorts fiasco’ of 2017; namely, realising the night before that I had absolutely none. And in 32° degree heat, I could not walk around in some black jeans for the entire trip. Luckily, the troops rallied and found me a few pairs, but I this is resolution one: I will no longer be an unprepared adult with regards to travelling. I still had some bags to pack, including electronics and a few toiletries, but I was soon ready and rolling into York rail station. A fairly uneventful trip later, we were at the airport! Well, not entirely uneventful. We had purchased tour tickets to see The Last Supper on the Thursday, but unbeknownst to me, when Tickitaly said ‘credit card’ they really meant credit card. A few attempts later, I’d cracked it and would see perhaps my favourite piece. But more on that later. 

The next 5 hours were a blur of tight security, an overpriced Burger King and a rather smooth air journey to Milan Malpensa airport. Whilst we hadn’t flown in nearly a year, it was quite a breeze, and we were soon grounded in Milan, where we faced our next quandary – how best to get to Milan Central Station! Using my O2 Roaming, I figured the easiest way was to get the train (in hindsight, I think I would take a shuttle both ways – they are as comfortable, but feel less intense and a more friendly introduction to the city). And man, those trains were nice – leg room was A*, and that air con was amazing. I should note that when we stepped off the flight, we knew we had made a miscalculation – it was hot, and we were greeted with melting Tarmac (okay, not really) and the typical hot holiday smell (yes, really this time). And the 15 minute traipse to the hotel wasn’t the nicest, but we were soon there, bags in hand ready to check in. In our room, we settled, dumped our bags and considered what to do. Eventually (we had arrived around 8PM), we decided to call it a night – going to the hotel bar, I ordered a soy lasagna and Kat a mini-pizza, eventually heading back to the room and going to sleep around midnight. 

Tuesday, 13th June 2017

Tuesday began as a bit of a farce. I had hoped that we would be well-rested by this point, with a good 9-hour kip, but when the alarm went off we’d slept the sleep of the dead and we were ready for some dessert. After a few snoozes, I jumped in the shower, and led the way to getting dressed for the day ahead. We’d packed our bag, and went into the lobby to figure out what to do. We stepped out, unknowingly, into 33° degree heat and oh my god it was fucking warm. As the pastiest pair in the world, we had a few conclusions – we were sweating from the second the sun touched us, and secondly, that we desperately needed some sun cream to stop us burning (of which I am not a fan). Thus began a trek of biblical proportions – first, we ventured around the corner to a small market, which turned out not to have any sun cream whatsoever. We then proceeded to buy two bottles of water with like a €20 note, prompting some angry looks from the Italian shopkeeper. Then, we wandered around the corner again to check a few pharmacies, selling at a ridiculous (we thought) €15! Thinking we would outsmart them, we moved on (again) to a proper supermarket, nice and cool and selling orange juice. Only, here it was €15 too. Defeated, we bought the bloody stuff, applied it, and trudged home. Imagine our surprise when, turning the corner for home, we spotted a market literally 30 seconds down the street, containing not only sun cream, but at the more appropriate price of €8. C’est la vie. 

We obviously needed a little break after this mess, so we grabbed a few Cokes and settled down in the lovely hotel garden, having a little recovery and enjoying the shade. It was a nice little recalibration, and reminded us that the heat isn’t always bad. We would flirt between these two modes the entire trip.

Still, a little downhearted after our pointless running around, we eventually settled on visiting a nearby park, the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli. I had read about it on a few websites and it was pretty close to us. As a side note, we spent a while wondering how our hotel could consider itself ‘central’, being close to a park and not much else. Well imagine our faces when we soon realised that a few blocks away was Corsa Buenos Aires, dubbed Milan’s Oxford Street and hosting many a dangerous driver. I can’t help but think we entered this trip seriously under informed. Still, we wandered into the park and had a nice time; it was a lovely day, without a cloud in the sky and for the first time the old sunglasses were necessary. Sat on a bench near a statue and an old fountain, the whole thing started to look a little picturesque. This is what I came to Milan for! 

But the day was ticking away and eventually we decided to get up and stop people watching. Nearby, there was a modern art museum which I’d heard good things about, with some interesting pieces. We arrived half an hour before free entry but a kind woman (whether staff or not) saved us €10 by giving us some free tickets she had to hand. So we had about an hour and a half to venture around and see what we could find. I have to say that I found the place very interesting; seeing types and styles of art change over time, and looking at conceptions of Madonna and the focus on the biblical stories was rather interesting. I managed to snap one of my favourite pieces of the day. 

I also snapped the name and origin of many of my favourite pieces for further perusal later. That should be fun. Anyhow, once we had had a good wander and ponder, we decided to leave and popped into the nearby cafe for some food and drink. Unfortunately, food was off the menu but we had a coke and enjoyed the place. It was really quite lovely (unfortunately, it soon after became quite busy and tempered the atmosphere). 

But overall, it was a lovely little trip. And after a slow wander through the park, we decided to call it a night, popping to a nearby vegan fast food joint called Flower Burger. We had seen positive reviews and wanted to give it a go, and it did not disappoint. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but let’s just say that the burgers, with seitan and soy, were pretty amazing. I wouldn’t get the opportunity to return on this trip, so it’s pretty nice to reflect. It was bloody good. And that was it for the first proper day – slow and laborious start, a relaxed and delicious end. The next few days would see more things done and perhaps more stresses and sweats. But for the first day, we bought a six pack of water, hit the hay, and reflected on a day well spent. 


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