Last weekend I decided to escape the UK for a couple of days and explore where ever easyJet had their cheapest flight; which turned out to be Milan. Being a big fan of the Italian destinations I had visited so far, as well as the local delicacies, I decided this weekend get-away would be a brilliant idea. So I grabbed my little rucksack (formally the carry on rucksack whilst backpacking that would be worn on my front), put on my flip flops and headed over to Italy.
In preparation for the trip my friend and I indulged in a couple of bottles of Italy’s finest wine (well that is sold in my local petrol garage at least!) the night before our trip, and had a good catch up after not seeing each other for a while. So with a good night’s sleep and a slight headache under our belts we rose early the next morning and set off for the airport.
However, ‘early’ clearly wasn’t early enough! I should have considered that 2 girls take longer to get ready than 1, plus with a petrol strike looming resulting in mass panic buying it was a struggle to find a garage to fill up the car, and then the motorway was filled with roadworks slowing us down. In this situation, where it isn’t unlikely you will miss your flight, many would panic. We however, thought of it as yet another one of our many adventures! Luckily we didn’t encounter any substantial delays and we arrived at the airport in time to clear security and grab a coffee and a Panini for the flight…and before we knew it we were airborne and on route to Italy.
The weather was extremely pleasant and it was just heavenly to soak up the sunshine and to think of the gloomy, rainy weather we had left behind in the UK. We decided to stay in the Ibis hotel, due to its height of culture! Ok, clearly I am being sarcastic here, but it was a great location and cheap so it seemed perfect for us.
We spent the two days just chilling around the city. Traditionally on my trips I tire myself out from running around mentally attempting to see absolutely everything that there may be to see. However, Milan isn’t a city in abundance of ground breaking sights, so it gave me the chance to just relax, and to just enjoy being in Milan.
There were two main sights that we saw whilst here; a castello (castle) that was formally used as army barracks, and the duomo (cathedral). They were both lovely to see and the cathedral was really quite outstanding, it reminded me a bit of Gaudi’s unfinished cathedral in Barcelona (although the very large H&M advert placed on the side of the cathedral did hinder its aesthetic glory somewhat). We spent a lot of time around the duomo, watching people go to collect their sacred tree (or so we called it as we weren’t entirely sure?!), watching parts of the services, and just general people watching.
The square around the duomo is quite the place to be and was constantly filled with tourists and shoppers alike. Oh and I think the odd celebrity too if the random crowds of sporadically screaming people were anything to go by! The streets around the square are lined with designer shops; Gucci, Armani and many more.
The main street leading up to the duomo was quite the happening place while we were there. First of all there were so many random people; clowns juggling, people on stilts, guitarists, bands singing, hippie vans, people dressed up as giant panda bears and lots more! I think many of these regular frequent the street in the form of busking, however many of them also appeared to be taking part in some form of protest. I have never really been involved in a street protest before so this was very interesting to watch!
I’m not sure what the protest was in aid of, however I did see things about the environment, about tax and one man had an umbrella with a model of a different world leader hanging from each stem! It was all very exciting! As I ventured further along the street I came across riot police that looked as if they were ready to pounce at any moment, hippie style and army style vehicles blasting out loud music and people dancing in the streets! The dancing was hilarious, we stayed and watched for quite some time.
The highlight of the trip however, as expected, was the food and the wine. My friend and I are both big wine drinkers and need no excuse to indulge in a bottle or three. The food in Milan was fantastic, we tried out the aperitif deals on offer (you buy wine and get snacks such as cheese, breadsticks, tomato etc free), the ENOURMOUS pizzas and the delicious pastas, oh and the gelato too! Yum! I think I may have returned home slightly heavier than when I left! :s
But the most extraordinary thing about Italy has to be its wine…! We began by ordering a bottle of one of my favourite- Chianti, and it went down extremely well! However whilst drinking this we noticed that most people around us had clear litre sized jugs full of wine. So when our glasses had run dry I decided (at half the price) that this was the way forward for the remainder of the evening. Strangely though, the wine appeared to be fizzy! Fizzy red wine?! Really?! At first this was a rather strange concept, yet a few merry glasses later I had sworn I would never go back!
Another thing that we spotted in Milan was this unusual looking bright orange drink served in large wine glasses. That was it- we were on a mission, not only to find out what it was, but to test it out too! And by the end of the first day we had succeeded. It was a mix of a liquor (something beginning with an A that I had never heard of before and to no surprise was orange in colour), proseco and soda water. It was surprisingly refreshing and really tasty! We were impressed! But at 10 euros a glass, one was enough!
So that was basically our weekend in the city of Milan- a castello, a duomo and lots and lots of food and drink! The city itself had a really nice feel about it, it was quite chilled, people were friendly and the sun was shining. All in all, not a bad weekend away! J