Coffee in Milan
Milan Travel Blog› entry 13 of 15 › view all entries
After yet another continental breakfast, which considering the price made me wish I was back at Garni Dolimitenblick! It was sufficient though, the size of the ‘breakfasting room’ did seem totally inadequate for a hotel with quite a large number of rooms though. The hotel also offered breakfast in your room without any additional cost. Breakfast was served from 7.30 to 10.30am so plenty of time for people to stroll down at a civilised time, and therefore avoid congestion at the tables. I know I certainly enjoyed an extra hour in bed.
After checking out and leaving my bag in the hotel until later I set out to explore the immediate area around the hotel and Central Station, which is quite an impressive building, and absolutely huge. It was of course Sunday, so a great deal of the city was closed down, including the vast majority of shops, which suits me! It was also a massive contrast to last time I had been here, just two weeks ago, when the roads were jam packed with vehicles, today; almost empty, again it suited me. There was a market just outside the station, which seemed a cross between the usual market and a car boot sale, as some of the stalls seemed to be selling little more than the vendor’s excess bric-a-brac from their garage or loft. I spent a little while patrolling the various stalls, perusing for bargains and eventually found a few souvenirs to take back for friends back home.
I then took a stroll down the wide Italian streets, but I cannot claim to have found any real affinity for this city. I am not really a big city person anyway, and Milan seems to represent everything I do not like about them, big, grubby and leaving me feeling a little empty. This is Milan, the capital of chic, and yet, this was not evident to me, at least not in the district I visited. It is not that there are a lack of attempts to keep it clean, as I did see street cleaners, but there is still litter and graffiti everywhere, and none of this is the ‘artistic’ type which can often enhance the appearance of grey multi-storey buildings. This should not of course influence anybody else, it is purely my opinion, and is based on little less than a day in the place. It is merely an initial impression, and to do it more justice, and therefore to provide a more balanced view I would need to spend several days more here. It was also a Sunday, and I did not take the opportunity to visit any of the main attractions.
I did find a park, and it was nice to have a little greenery to wander through. It was also there that I discovered the Museo di Storia Naturale (Natural History Museum) and spent about an hour mooching around the exhibits of this museum. At €3 for entrance it is excellent value. I did not really pay much attention to the mineral section, merely ambling through, I know, I am a Philistine, but basically rocks really just do not get my rocks off. I did find the palaeontology section very interesting, it takes you through the various epochs, from Pre-Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Triassic, Jurassic (of course) Cretaceous and Pliocene, I know that is not a complete list, but then I am not quite a complete anorak!
There was also a section on the development of man, from ape to present day, with various artefacts from different cultures including modern day plastics and other paraphernalia. The sections on biospheres were a bit sad as most of the exhibits were made up of stuffed animals, which is particularly disappointing when some of those animals are now exceedingly rare. The exhibit devoted to the native creatures of Italy was very good though.
After that I had to find somewhere that sold a genuine Milan coffee, as one of my favourite coffee shop ‘chains’ back home had the slogan “the best coffee this side of Milan”. I was amused to see that the one I found sold a rival brand, but again one which advertised itself as “Italy’s favourite coffee”. This was the first time I had seen it over here, but it was unrecognisable in comparison to the version I have been served back home, it was much, much better.
It was now time to go and search for somewhere to eat before having to head back to the airport. I decided upon one of those street side vendors, you know the ones, they sell ‘Doner kebaps’. I feel I am a champion of these places, the locals tend to eat there, the food is usually acceptable and of course cheap. I ordered a half grilled chicken with a salad and all was well in the world. As I was getting towards the end of my meal, some guy came in and started to sit at my table although the place was almost empty. Within moments the ‘trash clearer’ had joined us, just as the guy started to ask if he could share my dinner! Trash clearer asked me if I knew him, when I confirmed I did not, he guided him towards the door. This guy was persistent though and pushed back to the counter, after some heated discussion he was again guided towards the exit. This time as he passed my table he tried to grab a piece of my chicken, I must look extremely well fed or something! Anyway the trash clearer then sat at my table looking very menacing in attempt to prevent him from returning.
A last bit of excitement though before I made my way back to the hotel, collected my bag and set off to catch the shuttle bus from the Station. When I arrived at the airport I set about reorganising my bags, removing all my heavy items from my check-in bag and putting it all into my carry on pack to avoid any extra weight charges. This worked fine, and I was soon on my way back to a cool John Lennon airport from where my bus transfer to Manchester would be waiting.
Those of you that have read previous journals of mine will know I am a generally bemused by the 'rush' to get onto the plane at airports. Let me relate my experience of this flight back to Liverpool. As usual I waited until the queue at the boarding gate had virtually disappeared, reading, listening to music and generally chilling out. As it turned out I was the last to go through the gate, just behind the previous passengers and as Bergamo uses buses to transport passengers to the planes I was the last to get onto the bus, everybody else having to wait on the cramped bus. It also meant I was the first to board the plane and apart from a handful of 'priority' passengers had my choice of seats. Which just goes to prove that rushing to be the first through the boarding gates does not always work out well!
Anyway who was it that said the best part of travelling was the coming home?