It's 12pm and i am in Bergamo, Milan. The weather is hot unlike Leicester's cool breeze, its about 30degrees celcius and i'm sweating. I just had the worst morning, i was holding my pee and my bladder felt like its gonna explode, i was queuing to board the airplane but as it was a really long queue, i'm at the front by the way, i didn't want to simply leave the queue and go to the restroom, so i'd stay and planned to use the restroom on the plane instead. As i boarded the plane, i head straight to the restroom after putting my bags on my seat but the stewardess simply said "After take off" with her italian slang, her face was like "Dude, NO", being the optimistic guy i am, i sat and wait for take off and it feels like forever. Finally the plane took off and when the seat belt lights turned off which also felt like forever, i went for the restroom but it was still locked, so i asked the stewardess to unlocked it for me and she got the nerve to joke "5 euro please" with a straight face, you know.. the "NO" face and then she giggled and open the door for me, if only she knew what i just went through!
As we approached Milan, i looked out the window and below me is the Alps of Switzerland. It was a breathtaking view, it looks cold but somehow Milan being next to it, is hot.
The bus ride to Milan central is 60min non stop as advertised by terravision, and i dont want to sleep through the journey, i want to see what italy looks like. This is my first time in Italy. Italy always looked beautiful in films, movies, pictures. I want to see the old houses, the old buildings, but the long stretch highway journey was disappointing as there was nothing to see, just factories and gas stations.
As we approached the city, i've come to see the mostly brown and beige coloured buildings that later on i've found out its a typical italian buildings, so far nothing special yet. It did remind me of Paris. I've checked in at hotel Gonzaga, which is nicely located near the train station, i have Venice, Florence and Rome to look forward to and train ride is the best mode of transport for my Italy trip. I'm staying for 2 nights here in Milan. I was given a map by the hotel concierge and recommendations of places to visit and shop. To my surprise everything is walkable, in walking distance, to the main point of interest, its all within the map. The concierge said "Milan is not big like Rome, all the shoppings and the main points of interest is here (points to the map), Buenos Aires street, 200m from the hotel and here, Piazza Del Duomo."
I made my way to the Buenos Aires street and my first impression was, a bit disappointed. It is interesting but this just looked like Oxford Street in London or Orchard Road of Singapore. I'm not a big shopping guy, i wanted to see the unique buildings, the old buildings, what is this? i said to myself. Walked myself till the end of the street, this is a shopping street indeed. Not really my cup of tea. Time is getting late, gotta head back to the hotel and i'll visit the Duomo tomorrow.
These italians love graffiti, everywhere i look there will be walls with grafitti on it and even on a van!.
Next morning, i hop on the closest metro to get to the Duomo. Ya, i said everything is in walking distance, but to be honest, the long stretch of the Buenos Aires street is enough for me to ditch walking, it is tiring or should i say it's an unnecessary walk. i'd rather have fresh legs on the Duomo than tired legs. On a map the Duomo does look closer but when you're on the street itself, pheww... no comment.
When i reached the Duomo, i cursed myself for taking the wrong Uscita (Exit). The exit that i took involving me climbing a long flight of stairs, and that exit was quiet. There was no one else. i'm sure i took the wrong exit, i believed the other exit has an escalator. No time for turning back as i've already climbed so much stairs. So much for fresh legs. It was like climbing a hill, your legs tenses up, blood pumping, sweat, all the fun stuff.
I finally see the light on my way out, and when i got out of the exit, i was greeted with Piazza Del Duomo. I have to say i was in awe. "Ahhh finally, this is my awe moment, this is italy!" i said. Standing in the middle of the Piazza Del Duomo was all i can say breathtaking. It is the main city square in Milan. Its beautiful. Now this is much better than yesterday. Its like standing in the middle of 3 football field, surrounded by old architectures, monuments, cathedral and history. I'm in the middle of history.
What surprise me was this place is not just museums and cathedrals, this place is a shopping mall too! All the fashion big brands, i think the first ever Prada boutique was opened here.
I've read all the "Top ten places to go in Milan" all over the internet, everyone mentioned the same thing, go to Piazza Del Duomo, go to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele ii, do this, do that, eat gelato, eat pizza... duhh!! but nobody ever mentioned about those dodgy taking advantage rip offs guys who offers you something or stuffs and then asked for a certain steep amount of money. Yeah, those guys. If you've been to Italy you know these guys i'm talking about. They offered you string bracelets or seeds for pigeons, at least i've encountered those two. I am usually a "NO" guy, that's a rule i always kept to myself when travelling, always say NO to strangers, whatever their offerings. Its ok to be rude when you're travelling (depends on situation really), my philosophy could be different than yours, i'm sorry but this country is also famous for pickpockets! I'm just being safe.
And so i was offered a bracelet made of colourful strings, usually i would say no, maybe i was under a spell, i said yes, besides this guy said its "free". I was hesitant at first but my heart somehow goes weak, maybe i was amazed by the Piazza and said OK, why not. So he fixed the string on my wrist said its for good luck and then start asking for money, 5euro to be exact, i mean what?! 5euro for a piece of string? and you said its free?. At first i didn't want to pay a single dime and then i realised that these guys worked as a team, or maybe the other guy just helping a brother out, (he also offers those bright coloured strings). He said "Pay him bro"........ "Shit, i'm not just handling one guy here, there's 2 or more" i thought to myself. I didn't want to make a scene or being mug, but i've seen this before and experienced this, so i decided to just give him 1euro and left him as quick as possible. I think that made him happy or at least satisfied. But my mood is ruined. So much for Piazza Del Duomo.
Then there's the other guy with the pigeons seeds, while i was standing in the middle of Piazza Del Duomo, i was amazed at how many of the pigeons can stay close to the humans, the pigeons were not afraid, this is amazing i said, this is something i'm not used to, from where i come from, pigeons flew like crazy when you're near, ......apparently there is this guy who's been feeding these birds. He offered me the seeds although quite forcibly, even when you said no, he just put the seeds onto my hands and let the pigeons eat it on my hands, that was nice. Okay, i'm just gonna give this guy 1euro and be done with it, i said to myself.
He dont really speak good english but i swear i heard him said "10euros"....... "What? 10euros for a bloody frikkin seeds?" Man, that is just a ripoff. So i left him with 1euro and move on quickly, i can faintly heard him said "What is this?" while he looks at the 1euro i gave him on his palm.
I still let the colourful bracelet on my wrist and it was indeed good luck, good for preventing the other guys to offer me more bracelet that is. They were offering bracelets but when they saw the bracelet on my wrist they simply move on to another tourist. Wow! talked about good luck.
Everywhere i go be it in the streets of Milan or the Piazza Del Duomo, i must come across the word, "SALDI" .... its everywhere.... SALDI SALDI SALDI....
Italy is famous for pizza and spaghetti but they are also famous for their coffee! Espresso, Machiato, capuccino, all sounded italy, they must have invented that drink and me being a coffee lover slash addict, have to try them all. I just had my first espresso, i'm not really a black coffee guy but
thats the best black coffee i ever had, usually i'd take milk but not this time, its so good.
Thats pretty much sums up Milan.
Ciao, the italian way of saying hi AND also goodbye.......
which reminds me of this movie...
but not as confusing as that lol