My, my, I am doing well with these plays on Italian city names, aren’t I? Well, here goes: the final leg of the adventure, which doubled as one heck of a scenic route home. Although, travelling exclusively by land from Rome to Strasbourg, is there any other kind of route?
Arriving at the station in Milan, Nicole and I were slightly better rested than we’d expected to be (thank you cough syrup/sedativo!); but still much less rested than we would have liked. The first thing we did after freshening up in the (1€!) bathrooms was to hit the espresso bar – a concept we were just getting used to in time for leaving. After that pick-me-up, we had to work out how to get an internet connection and what on earth we were going to do with twelve hours and a crapload of bags. We started, of course, at the station bag check, but it was something ridiculous like 8€ per bag for the first five hours and a further 3€ an hour from then on. Now, in fairness, I did just totally make that figure up, but it was still high. Nicole had the brilliant idea to check them at a museum for a lower price, actually get entrance to the museum included, and then just leave them there while we went about the rest of the day, before returning for our bags when we were ready. She’s a genius, that girl: it worked perfectly. I’d totally recommend it if you’re ever in a similar situation (why would you ever be in a similar situation?) – just remember to check what time the museum closes, of course, or you’ll be kind of screwed.
Anyway, our ‘urban camping’ (basically, loitering for as long as possible in various different places and trying not to look at your watch) began around 9am, outside the cathedral. It was a really impressive building, of course, but the two of us were so exhausted and sick of travelling that we barely noticed. Because of this and the fact that I find cathedrals extremely difficult to photograph, the only interesting picture I have is of this funny little caveman thing. I thought he was silly enough to merit a wee portrait:
After the cathedral steps, our next ‘campsite’ was to be YouPizza. That’s right, like YouTube, only… YouPizza. Weird. We arrived 15 minutes before they opened and waited, what we deemed to be a reasonable distance away, until I glanced around to see them opening the steel shutters, at which point we wasted no time in amassing our possessions and bolting shamelessly inside. We used their WiFi to find a museum we might want to visit, and ended up choosing the Triennale design museum. In no hurry, we wasted as much time as possible inside YouPizza, and then even more picnicking by the castle on the way. When we arrived at the museum, we did a last minute brain-racking to spot any innate flaws in our plan that could lose us the legion of possessions we had in tow and, finding nothing, checked the bags, paid our entry fees and went in.
I thought the installations were really interesting, especially the one which featured several different styles in home decor and explanations of the design themes behind them; unfortunately though, it was so damn hot in there that we couldn’t go through the whole exhibit: it was really quite unbearable. Too bad, because otherwise I would have heartily recommended the museum to anyone and everyone who asked: really, what would it cost to get a bit of air conditioning in there? The other exhibit that interested me was an architecture one. Some big oil company was doing a competition to design a new building for them, and having spent my week’s work experience in the architecture firm where my aunt used to work, I found the little models and concept art really cool. We stuck around for a bit, then I was sucked in to the giftshop to drool over coffee table literature about interior design and stuff before we made our swift and probably highly conspicuous exit.
After that potentially-fascinating-but-overall-actually-pretty-disappointing visit, we wandered around some touristy areas and went to meet up with Nicole’s Italian friend Ariana, who studies in Milan. We saw a couple more sites, chatted about the city and grabbed ice cream at a gelateria where the creepy bathroom attendant likes to harass girls who don’t speak Italian. Little did he know I had a bilingual ally in tow: let’s just say I demanded and received the 1€ tip I’d left him and he won’t be attending any more bathrooms in a while*. Seriously, girls: be wary of Italian men and please, if you’re alone even for ten minutes in a foreign country where you don’t speak the local language, just remember how vulnerable a position that puts you in if anyone were to give you any trouble, and act accordingly.
Anyway, after picking up our bags from the design museum, Ariana introduced us to the brilliant Italian concept of ‘Happy Hour’- most restaurants offer this deal, in which you buy an aperitif for around 6€ and receive a small plate which can be filled as many times as you like with the assortment of delicious snacks they have stacked up next to the bar. We sat outside, with glowing heatlamps to ward off the spring evening chill as we sipped on our cocktails and enjoyed the view of the Arco della Pace. It was a beautiful end to a fantastic getaway, only slightly over-shadowed by the prospect of an overnight coach journey back to Strasbourg, where we arrived at 4am on Sunday morning, long before the trams started running. As Nicole and I wandered aimlessly along the Quai des Alpes, deciding how to get home, we were treated to the rare sight of dozens of swans, heads tucked in behind their wings, sleeping soundly on the still canal.
Home at last :)
Don’t worry though: I still have plenty more travels to fill you in on, and as you read this I’ll be hosting my big bro who is coming to visit for a week, so I’m sure I’ll have more than enough stories to tide you all over through my quiet spell. Before you know it, I’ll be back in Ohio telling you all about my first ever 4th of July! (Well not my first ever 4th of July, obviously, but the first time ‘4th of July’ has been an actual celebration as opposed to – you know, just the fourth day in July).
Lots of love!
*P.S. I’m fine by the way, he didn’t hurt me or anything. Just a creepy guy who should not have been working anywhere near the girls’ bathroom. And now he’s not, so there was my good deed for the day.