Traveling from Switzerland to Italy – I knew there would be a shift in atmosphere, weather, culture, and food. And you know what? I was so ready for it.
First stop: Milano. Also where I would be couchsurfing for the first time EVER!
It was a long, deadly train ride to Italy. (Wasn’t actually that long….I was just hungover and running on less than two hours of sleep. Does that make me a bad person?)
I got off the train and met up with my host in the Milano Centrale station, his name was Gian. We walked for miles to his cozy flat in the middle of Milan. I think that this walk would have been a lot more enjoyable if I wasn’t hungover, it wasn’t super hot outside, I wasn’t dehydrated, and I didn’t have a 65-liter backpack holding me down. We made it there and I was relieved. Mostly because the flats were so beautiful. There was going to be another couch surfer, and he was going to have to pick her up as well. So he told me I could nap on the (my) couch while he waited for her arrival. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen asleep so fast.
A few hours later, I heard the sound of the door unlocking. My host and the other couch surfer from China, Lee, had arrived. And that meant…time to wake up and conquer the first day in Milan.
We walked again, the three of us, for what seemed like days. The buildings stood tall, each with an eye-catching architectural design.
We made it to Parco Sempione, or “Simplon Park”. As you walk through this park, there are many different pop-up shops with gelato, t-shirts, post cards, key chains, and water for the hotter, it’s-hard-to-breathe kind of days. This park was established in 1888……I don’t think any of you were born back then. But it’s beauty is unreal. It is filled with people of all ages juggling soccer balls, groups of friends singing with a guitar, and many sunbathers.
Anyways. It is located smack-down in the historic city center of Milan. It lies adjacent to two of the most important landmarks within Milan, too.
Can you guess?
The Arco della Pace, or Arch of Peace, and the Sforza castle.
Now, I didn’t snag any awe-inspiring, totally need to share, photos of the castle. And that might have been because when you walk through the castle, there are many stray cats and kittens taking over the area. And if you know me…..you know I was the one calling the cats, petting them, and trying to make friends with them. One of the cats. Cat whisperer.
We continued to walk. And walk. And walk. Through the park. Through the gardens of the castle. Through the shopping center….it was a slower walk, through this, because a girl has to window shop, you know.
WHOA. Bold AND italicized that because at the end of the shopping street, I saw what I have been wanting to see with my own eyes for years.
Behold….the Milan Cathedral.
Duomo di Milano.
I’ve always seen photos, but I never expected the location to be where it is. I never expected there to be SO many people surrounding it. And you know what? I never expected there to be so many birds, either. Those things swarm the Duomo di Milano like it is THEIR cathedral and nobody is supposed to be there.
The inside of the cathedral is so beautiful. (Go on a Sunday and you get in free!) I don’t think I could ever get tired of inspecting the architecture, design, color, and hidden beauties of this place. It is truly breathtaking.
We went to Navigli, the most romantic and picture-worthy part of Milan in my eyes. It’s so beautiful. Filled with amazing shops, restaurants, bars….and on some days….some type of Flea Market along the water. You can kind of see that in the photo provided below.
During the night – the streets and bars are FILLED. I went to a place called “MAYA” (?). It was a buffet and had the best cocktails I had in Italy. After meeting Gian’s friends there, stuffing my face with great Italian food, and drinking fruity cocktails….it was time for bed.
The next day…I headed to EXPO MILANO!
Yes. The World Expo in Milan. Where I also didn’t take too many photos – rather just kind of lived in the moment and took each pavilion in.
But I did take a photo of the horribly long lines to enter the expo.
But Kim. Wait. Before you move on.
What exactly is the Milan Expo?
To keep it short and sweet, the Milan Expo is a Universal Exposition. This year, it was held in….yes, you guessed it….Milan. Each year the expo is held…there is a theme. There are pavilions from each country that build up their own personal ideas to represent and support this theme. And I mean….the expo is HUGE. Each country’s pavilion is an entire building itself. It’s very, very, very intriguing. You can’t see the whole thing in just one day.
This years theme: “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life”.
$$$: The tickets are reasonably priced. I paid €39 and spent an entire day here roaming the pavilions I wanted to see most. Stopping at one of the food carts and enjoying Dutch fries mid-tour. 😉
We stayed all evening and took a long, crowded, train ride back to the flat at night.
My last day in Milan I started off with walking around the city with Lee, the other couch-surfer. We found a pizza place in the perfect location. I mean…check out my view for lunch.
It was a relaxing day. I spent it with my feet in the Fountain of Piazza Castello, wandering the main shopping streets, and spending money on clothes I shouldn’t have. AKA: successful last day. AmIRite?
Ciao, Milano. Thank you for the many calories burnt from walking the city, and the many calories gained back eating your hard-to-resist pizza.
See you again.