August 27, 2015
My flight from Budapest to Milan left at 6am so after leaving the bar in Budapest, Dani and I took the bus to the airport. It was late and dark and I kept worrying that we were going to get stopped by the transit police (because we needed two tickets but only had one) but fortunately, only the security came and all they did was make us validate our tickets (not fine us). I made it to the airport in one piece and settled down on the floor to sleep, using my suitcase as my pillow. I set my alarm for 4am thinking that would give me enough time to get to my terminal…but the line up was already so long! I don’t know where these people came from! I began to panic a bit as I anxiously waited in the slow line, grumbled to myself as I watched people cut in, and at long last, after having my sunscreen from New Zealand almost confiscated and buying an overpriced sandwich, I made it on the plane. I was supposed to get the window seat but when I arrived, it was already occupied and it seemed a hassle to ask everyone to play musical chairs. So I sat in the aisle seat. It was a 2 hour flight and I was hoping to sleep as much as I could but I had nothing to lean against. I guess I accidentally leaned on the shoulder of the person beside me because she woke me up…well, sorry! Maybe your friend shouldn’t have taken my window seat then!!
When the plane landed in Milan, I almost got attacked by the security guards because I accidentally exited the terminal without collecting my luggage (I couldn’t find the luggage pick up) and then I had to walk back through which is apparently not allowed. I showed them my boarding pass but I don’t think they appreciated it all the same. Once I got my luggage I tried to find my pre-booked shuttle (which took a while) but once I got on it, I fell asleep. It seemed like an abnormally long bus ride…maybe 1 hour, maybe more? I was too out of it to really know what was going on. When we got to the city center, I bought a “cup” coffee for £1 which actually turned out to be a sip of coffee. (I had no idea this was the way Italians drink coffee). A kind Italian lady helped me find the correct bus and eventually the hotel where the first thing I did was a take a much-needed bath.
Shortly afterwards, my British friend Tom arrived and we went to explore the city together. It was boiling hot! We went up this tower to see a view of the city and then walk through a castle courtyard and down to the famous Duomo — an extravagant, big, gothic cathedral that D.H Lawrence called a wedding cake. Apparently it took six centuries to complete (and of course, it was still under construction now). It was very impressive…perhaps almost too impressive. I mean, do churches really need to be that grand and extravagant? I rather think that they don’t. The whole duomo area is ruined, in my opinion, by people trying to “give” you bracelets. They even go so far as to tie it on your wrist (all the while insisting that it is a gift) before demanding money for it. I was about to rip it off my wrist and give it back to them because I hate when people force you to do things, but Tom gave them money (though apparently he gave coins from China, so the money was worthless in Europe anyway).
We bought milkshakes from McDonalds for £1 (which actually only made me more thirsty) and then I bought artwork which is drawn on a plank of wood. The artist told me his head is in Milan but his heart is someplace else. In the evening we went to the 2015 Milan Expo. The next day, after free breakfast at the hotel, we walked the Navigli, which are a system of canals conceived by Leonardo Da Vinci, wandered through the town, and debated whether or not we should to go see Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” painting but decided it was too expensive (around 30 euros!) The day was hot again and we sat in the shade eating some bread with olives for lunch. There were two pigeons in front of us and one was so mean – he would keep attacking the other one who was trying to get his fair share of bread crumbs. I purposely only gave my bread to the nice pigeon after seeing that.
In the evening, we got our bus to Valley D’Aosta — a beautiful bus ride as the sun was setting over the Italian mountains.