Only 3 days after I landed back in the UK my holiday already feels like it was just a dream. But in a good way. In I get to wake up and remember that it actually happened kind of way. And even better I get to share that with you. So here it is the first of my train diaries, today Milan…
I arrived in Milan in the dark, after an hours coach drive from the airport (note Ryanair: Bergamo is NOT Milan) and after a long day travelling, I was a little overwhelmed. So far I’d made it in one piece, but driving through Milan on the coach, it dawned on me I was in a strange city and couldn’t speak a word of Italian. The coach dropped me off at the main station and I had no idea where to go from there, so I jumped in a taxi, pointed at the address and hoped for the best.
And then I arrived at my hostel. And I knew everything would be ok.
“Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise’
I can’t rave about this ADORABLE hostel enough. Gogol’Ostello is about a 45 minute walk out of central Milan, but that hardly matters. Afterall there is a main street of bars and restaurants on your doorstep anyway, and, the walk through the park into the city, is one I would recommend taking, regardless of where you are staying. The hostel itself was decorated more like a boutique hotel, white walls adorned with Shakespeare quotes and african proverbs. Books covering shelves, and old tv sets with ‘Read Instead’ painted across their screens. The dorms are all en suite and starting my day with a freshly delivered croissant from a local bakers and a coffee, was absolute bliss. If you want to do things on the cheap, but still have a little bit of luxury, like I did, I would definitely try here!
^ This was the entrance to the park ^
When I woke up on Sunday morning, it suddenly dawned on me just how little planning I had done for this trip. Not only was I struggling to remember how to say thank you (for my croissant) but I had basically no idea what was in Milan. So, I grabbed a map, which had recomendations from the local people on and set off through the beautiful park Simplon Park, towards central Milan and the Duomo…
It really is absolutely stunning, and well worth throwing yourself into the crowds to see! Of course the que to get in on the Sunday was huge, but come Monday evening you could wander in and out as you pleased.
Down town Milan has this feeling I can only describe as feeling like the city is clambering on top of itself. One moment you’ll be on a busy shopping street, which could be anywhere in the world, the next you’ll be admiring the ruins of an old church, or sat in a plaza listening to locals play their guitars. My first day in Milan was spent doing what the locals call ‘fare le vasche’ which literally means, walk the swimming pools, but metaphorically, means to just walk around without purpose and go with the flow. To be honest that is what I did for my entire holiday…
On my second day, I tried to go to one or two tourist attractions both were closed. Walking away from the central plaza I realised that nearly every city in the world can be divided into the same labels. The designer part, the hipster part, the tourist part. It was funny to walk around and think to myself ‘oh this is like…’ But certain things in Milan were undoubtedly Italian. Men in suits finishing work and treating themselves to an ice cream instead of a beer. And happy hour…
In Milan happy hour lasts longer than an hour, and while the drink prices actually go up slightly they bring you free food.
Of the four places I went to, I think Milan is the place I will look back on Fondly. When I had imagined my European adventure, I imagined it to look a lot like Milan. Me and my notebook, surrounded by crowds of people, and something to see and eat on every corner, and now that I am back, it is the place I am most nostalgic for. I specifically remember this giddy feeling I had when I first headed off on Sunday morning, this ‘yes I’m doing this’ feeling.
I dragged my suitcase through the city on the Tuesday morning and I imagined coming back, taking things at a slower place. A whole afternoon exploring the park, china town, and making it into the tourist attractions that were closed when I tried to get in, maybe even brave the tram system. Maybe with company, maybe not. Mid week, slightly warmer. That is how I would do Milan again.
Oh and next time I would avoid the guys selling ‘lucky’ bits of string like the plague!
Live life & eat gelato in Milan x