Back in March of 2020, I went to Milan as part of a wider trip that should have consisted of Georgia and Armenia too. That didn’t quite go according to plan due to a little thing called Covid. You can read about that visit here.
Fast forward 30 months (or 2.5 years to you and me) and I decided that I should again visit Milan since Covid restrictions are virtually non-existent on the continent. When I was looking for flights, Milan was generally top of the list for the cheapest flights. I took that as my sign (not that I need one when it comes to travelling) to book the flights and get the hell out of dodge.
This trip was the same length as March 2020 and it gave me 2 full days in Milan. I would have liked an extra day but the flight times meant it wasn’t possible to get back in time for the start of my night shift on Saturday. I figured that was fine and that I would have enough to do in Milan for the 2 full days I had there.
The travel to the airport was really uneventful. Trains were running on time (for a change). I got to the airport about 2.5 hours before the flight. Security was quick too. It gave me time to relax and grab the best seat in the house and watch over the runway. It was nice to see the number of planes on the apron and runway.
I saw some airlines land that I hadn’t seen at Stansted before. Air Albania and China Southern Cargo were two that I hadn’t seen there before. I got to see a 747 land too. A huge plane for a small airport.
At one point, I could see one plane land and eight waiting in the queue to take off. Stansted is a single airport runway so it’s always going to be busy for take-offs during normal working operations.
I wanted to get some water from the stores in the departure lounge and I was told the only way I could go back there under ANY circumstance was to miss my flight. That made me pretty annoyed. I had to use the overly expensive vending machines in that gate area – for some reason they don’t have any of the stores open there. It’s bizarre.
I was in the queue to board and as they were having us wait, the escalators started and I just went down those. Forget waiting behind people who weren’t moving even though the door to the apron was open and some people were walking out. It gave me a chance to put my backpack in the overhead locker and get to my aisle seat. I was asked if I would swap so a couple could sit together. Given the super nice guy I am, I decided that I would. It was an aisle for an aisle (isn’t that a biblical teaching? Oh wait, that’s an eye for an eye).
The flight itself was uneventful. I think I slept for some of it though I can’t be sure. We landed and I got off the plane pretty quick being so near the front. We had to board a bus to get to the arrivals area. It didn’t look all too familiar (which is what I thought it would be like the entire trip. More later though). I was directed through the e-gates (wait, am I going to get a stamp or not? Why am I being sent here if I am supposed to get a stamp?) and once I had gone through there was a border guard doing a passport check for those that used these gates. I got my stamp!
I left the airport to get the bus to the city and then headed to the hostel. It was 32 degrees and I was super tired. Thank goodness the bus had AC. The ride to the station was almost an hour. I got to the metro and bought a ticket for my time there and then headed to the hostel. A word of caution about the public transport tickets. A single trip costs €2. A three-day ticket was €12. Be warned: three days is exactly that. Just three days. If you buy a ticket at 23:59 that counts as 1 day. In most EU cities, a three-day ticket usually means 72 hours from first validation – not here though. I was caught out by it this trip and I vaguely remember being caught out last time too.
I got to the hostel and they hadn’t assigned me a bottom bed as I had requested. I always email as soon as I book the hostel to request this. They said they had no record of the email. I showed them when it was sent and they ‘found’ it. They finally got me a room with a bottom bunk. I put my stuff away and sat down for about half an hour and then headed out to where I knew there was a supermarket (the shops around the hostel closed really early – like 19:00 early) and took a nice walk down to get some food and drink and then a nice walk back to the hostel to get some much-needed sleep.
More about the two full days here to follow.
In keeping with tradition, I decided I would do a walking tour today. I got up early enough so I could get some food before getting to the meeting point.
I got to the Duomo station and headed out of the maze of tunnels and exits and as I was walking up the stairs the cathedral was right there. It was such a sight to behold. I remembered that there was also a McDonald’s here to get some food and that is where I headed. McDonald’s here isn’t cheap. I got some eggs and bacon and a drink and it was £6. Needless to say, my sustenance for the rest of the time was cheap supermarket food.
I had a look at the map to find an ATM to get some money to give the guide. I didn’t want to use the Euronet machines as they charge hefty fees for foreign cards and I refuse to pay them. I found one and got some money out and then headed across the square to meet the guide. I stopped for a drink first as I was super thirsty. I got the bottle and noticed it didn’t look the right size. The bottles in Italy have shrunk to 450ml as opposed to the 500ml ones we get here. They better not bring that abomination here!
I met the guide and the group ended up being about 40 in size. A vast difference from the last walking tour I did back in 2020. We stopped in front of the cathedral and he was telling us that it was the third largest in the world behind St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and Sao Paulo cathedral. The outside of the building is really ornate and has so many carved sculptures on it. The guide also told us of a building known locally as the ‘Shit House’ (it is really a museum). The story goes that in 1996 some dude took a dump in a box and housed it in this building and it is still there to this day. Apparently, it just goes to show that ‘any old shit can become art’. That made us all laugh.
We headed to the medieval square behind McDonald’s which was where Milan was formed. It is said that this housed all the financial buildings and that if you didn’t have the means to pay the punishment was being stripped naked and whacked on your behind. As the rooms all faced the square, people could see and the embarrassment was part of the punishment. I guess it’s better than being tortured.
We headed to the Galleria shopping centre. This is right on cathedral square too. It is really ornate (along with pretty much the rest of the city). The centre houses some very high-end brands too. Brands that I’d never shop at. We left here and then headed to Teatro alla Scala. I was looking forward to this one because of my love of classical music. We got there and I was… well… underwhelmed. I was expecting something grandiose for it being one of the leading opera houses in the world. Sadly not. That being said, I was happy I got to see it.
We walked around the corner to a small square that had a church and a statue of the Italian poet Alessandro Manzoni. The guide did say something about the square being haunted but I was so desperate to rid myself of all that I had drunk so far that I had lost concentration. After he was done talking, I told him I just needed to use the toilet and he said he would carry on walking and gave shoddy directions to where the next stop was at the castle. I thought that was a bit rubbish but probably expected in a group of this size.
I got done and then headed in the direction he said. I thought I had seen them but I think it was another group. I got to where I thought he said and there was no sign of them. I had to stop as my breakfast was wanting to visit so I found a small cafe and used the bathroom and asked them where the castle was and it turns out I was almost there and not lost.
I took a slow meander through the castle taking pictures and I finally met the group again (though I didn’t really care about carrying on with them). I had messaged the guide and he had ignored it so I didn’t really care about carrying on with the tour and he certainly wasn’t going to get a tip for it.
I got some more liquids and sat and had that and a cake I had gotten at the last cafe I stopped at. I wanted water and was trying to find a Carrefour Express to get some (and also find a toilet). I went by Cadorna station and couldn’t see anything. They had a cool needle and threat statue that I hadn’t seen the last time I was here.
I headed back to where I wanted to catch a tram and I had just missed it. I knew which one I wanted but no dice. I looked for a shop and a toilet and it turns out it was just across the road from the station I was standing outside of. I blame the heat and being delirious. I got some food and drink and went for the tram and I had just missed it. I went to the toilet thinking 9 minutes was enough time and I got out and had just missed one again. I decided just to wait for the next one and get on it.
I went to the end of the line and found somewhere to sit and have some food and drink and somewhere there was a bathroom. I sat here for about 20 minutes before I started to cook and then I headed back to the tram and got off and had a wander around the inside of the central railway station. I was hoping to go sit on a platform and just train and people watch but I wasn’t able to do that. They have airport-style security at the entrance to the platform and it was going to be too much hassle to ask so I just took some pictures of the ornateness of the station and then headed back to the hostel.
I went and got some more sustenance from the U2 (yep, it’s really called that) supermarket by the hostel and then headed back towards the tram to just sit and feel the breeze and take some pictures and find somewhere to get off and wander around. I headed around the Garibaldi area of the city and I had seen some places I wanted to get off and walk around but I remembered I still had a full day to do that. I went to the end of the tramline and had a wander and then got back on. I got off at what I thought was the right stop for where I wanted to go next. It wasn’t. It was ok though, I enjoyed the walk. I wanted to cross the railway and get some pictures of a building that I had seen. It was a colourfully tiled water tower and a church. I also had seen another church-like building that turned out to be a monumental grave site. I decided since it was 17:30 I would come back here tomorrow as there were only 30 minutes left until it closed.
I got back on the tram and headed towards a Carrefour supermarket I had used before and there were a couple of buildings I wanted to get some pictures of that were close by too. I took my pics and had a sit down for about 30 minutes and just people-watched. I then went and got food and headed back to the hostel for the night. It turns out I wasn’t quite ready for that so I hopped on the tram and went wandering around Teatro alla Scala and when I got there I saw some guy with an accordion and I was mesmerised and just stood there for about 30 minutes listening to him play. You can see the videos I took below.
Once I was done here I went to the cathedral and took some night shots and just was mesmerised by how good it looked at night time too. After I was done here, I then headed to the metro and headed back to the hostel. It was about 22:30 when I got in. I’m living it up!!!
All in all, it was a good day and I got to see some things that I hadn’t last time.
Total steps: 22,710
Total miles: 11.1
Below are some pics from today
I got up early enough to make sure I had time for breakfast before heading to the station to pick up the coach to go to the airport. I was a little passive-aggressive though as the other people in the hostel were making a lot of noise when I was trying to sleep. As I was leaving, I took the key card out and turned the light on so it would be bright for about a minute and giving enough time to wake everyone else up. I also wasn’t quiet about packing either.
I had my breakfast and then hopped on the coach to the airport. It was nice and cool on the coach. I got to the airport and just went through security and passport control and went and sat at the gate. The flight was delayed leaving Dublin which meant we were delayed taking off by almost an hour.
I got a row to myself on the way back and it was lovely. I did sleep for about an hour. We landed and I had about 20 minutes to make it across the border and to the station. I managed to get across the border, to the shop for drinks and then to the train with about 70 seconds to spare before it left. I was picturing having to wait an hour for another train. Thank goodness I didn’t – though when we get to Cambridge it was packed so another hour may have done the trick. Oh well. Some kids got on in March and they were really annoying. They kept kicking me and I kept sighing loudly and pushing their feet out of the way. I was glad to be back in PTown and off the train.
All in all, Milan was a great trip and I definitely recommend you go.
Total steps: 37,457
Total miles: 18.3
You can view all of my Milan pics here