Travel Tips Part 17: Milano, Italy.

Note to the reader: I am unable to tell the entire story of our trip to Milano without first informing you of the previous 24 hours before we arrived. The story takes place in Barcelona…

Your train from Sevilla to Barcelona arrives exactly on time, giving you 5 hours to spare before your next train to Milano. You check your bags into the lockers and walk around the city for some retail therapy. Seeing as the train from Barcelona to Milano will take a whole 15 hours, you decide to stop by a supermarket to purchase some food for the journey. You buy 2 bags of fruit, bread, cheese and 4 litres of water. You stop for a cup of tea before you casually stroll back to the station. You and Mik walk into the station giggling about something or another, before Mik suddenly stops and makes a loud gawking noise. You turn around and find her bags of food on the floor, and Mikayla herself doubled over holding her face. You assume she’s walked directly into someone, until she turns to a man standing by and says, “What was THAT for?!” With his hands in his pockets he calmly replies in a monotonous voice, “Don’t walk so close next time.” before sauntering off through the station. Having no idea what’s going on, you ask Mikayla what happened and if she’s okay – this old man had open-fisted punched her in the nose. For a moment you’re unable to comprehend what she’s implying: why would a man just randomly punch her in the face? She stands upright and you notice that her nose is actually bleeding; this was no accident.

You gather your things and walk into MacDonalds to sit down and relax for a while – your train doesn’t leave for another hour. No matter how many times you go through what just happened, no sufficient answer can possibly be given to justify why a man would violently swing his arm out and hit MIkayla in the face: he had no luggage, no one with him, he didn’t apologise or anything. The only possible explanation is that he was mentally ill, and had simply not taken a liking to Mikayla’s face. You look at the time and notice that your train leaves in half an hour, so you grab your bags and look at the departures table to find out with platform to go to – but your train isn’t there. You ask someone at the station for assistance who tells you that you’re actually at the wrong train station – a train that will take you to your station departs in…now. You run over to the correct platform but are too late; you’ve missed the train by 2 minutes. Not wanting to buy yet another 50 Euro train to Milano, you decide not to give up without a fight. You run (if you can call it that) to the taxi rank outside, and explain your situation to a cabbie who says he can get you there in 10 minutes with a minute to spare before your train leaves. He says if you miss your train, you don’t have to pay him – fair deal. The next 10 minutes are spent with you holding on for dear life as the cab driver cuts in front of buses, speeds through red lights and madly races through the city to get you there on time.

Finally you arrive at the station with quite literally 1 minute to spare. You run through the main hall out to the platforms to find a single train sitting there. You make a move towards the train when security stops you to check your bags. You explain to him that you have no time as your train is waiting outside, however, when you show him your tickets he simply points in the opposite direction back towards the front of the station. You’re both totally confused. You run towards the direction he’s pointing when another man stops you to see your tickets. He makes a “follow me” gesture back to the outside, where a large bus with ‘BARCELONA – MILANO’ on the front is waiting. Surely not. Surely you haven’t reserved a 15 hour BUS ride to Milano? You’re disappointment is only yet to come when you finally get on the bus. Your relief of not missing the bus is quickly cut short when you notice that there’s no toilet on the bus, the seats are so cramped that you’re unable to stretch your legs, and a family of loud Australians are sitting at the back. Welcome to your very own nightmare. Luckily, one of the guys working in the bus tells you that you will be stopping in 2 hours for a 45 minute break for the toilet and food. Desperately trying to make the best out of a shitty situation, you and Mikayla watch a couple of episodes of Boardwalk Empire before your privileged toilet break. You buy a can of Pringles, have a smoke then get back into the warmth of the bus. Eventually you fall asleep and spend the next 12 hours drifting in and out of uncomfortable sleep, while listening to the perpetual whinging from the backseat.

Finally – Milano. You arrive in the morning completely sleep-deprived and moody. After gathering your bearings you begin to walk in the direction of your hotel, before tripping on your own feet. You stumble for a good 5 seconds before your backpack throws off your balance and hurtles you towards the ground. You brace your hands out in front but it’s no use: your backpack throws your head forward where is lands with a dull thud on the ground, sending pain signals through your temple and over your forehead. You sit up as Mik rushes over to ask if you’re alright; you watch as her face turns from concerned to horrified as she notices the growing lump on your head. A family of Italians who witnessed the whole thing come over and do the same thing, making you feel uneasy about the egg on your head. Despite the pain, you don’t feel dizzy or nauseous, so you make a move to stand up before deciding that it’s wiser to stay on the ground for a while. The Italians ask if you need assistance with a bag of ice or anything, but you simply ask for directions to your hotel.

You finally get to your hotel where the moody receptionist informs you that your room will not be ready for another 2 hours – of course. You leave your bags and walk around in search for breakfast. Milano is a nice city – impressive architecture and more importantly, Christmas sales! You find a small café where you order a latte and a sandwich. You sit for a while nursing your sore head and pride, before the waiter brings you out what you’re most craving: carbs and caffeine. You have a couple of well-deserved cigarettes before ordering more food – it’s been a long fucking day. After breakfast you walk about town for a bit before wandering back to your hotel. You’ve booked a 4 bed dorm and are happy to notice that there’s no one else in there. You skype Greg for a while in the lounge when Mikayla comes up with a photo from your room which you haven’t seen yet: sitting in the corner of the rectangle room is a bidet and a sink. Unimpressive. After your chat you walk into your room and lie down for a while, getting up only once to make yourself a cheese and tomato sandwich.

Later that afternoon you walk around town for a bit sifting through the sales – when you try on a pair of size 10 jeans that don’t fit, your mood goes from bad to worse. When you find a restaurant for dinner you moodily order a vegetable soup – fatty. Later on you chill out in your dorm for a while writing your blogs while Mik falls asleep, until midnight, when loud talking and knocking begins on your door. The hotel had allowed 2 boys to check into the dorm past midnight while you were sleeping, and the guy on night-shift doesn’t seem to care. The boys waltz in, turn on the lights and start fiddling with plastic bags and water bottles for about half an hour. Having had enough, you turn out the lights therefore leaving them in the dark, before falling into yet another restless slumber.

The next morning you wake up, pack your things, and gladly get the fuck out of Milano.

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