34: And then there was Milan

I’ve always dreamt of going to Milan. Of course in my dreams I had millions of dollars to shop with and I would arrive by a private jet and proceed to fashion week but, baby steps. We’d hardly slept on our midnight bus from Venice to Milan and when we arrived it was a chilly, rainy Sunday at 5:00am and we were completely unsure of where to go. I, unfortunately, was utterly useless as I didn’t know the language and had no cell reception. My travel companion, Andrea, on the other hand was not. In fact he was quite the opposite. I followed him to a bus stop we hoped would take us slightly closer to his brothers apartment only to get off, and low key steal a taxi that someone didn’t show up for to take us the rest of the way. Thanks to him, we were not lost for long.

His brother graciously greeted us while offering coffee, a shower, a place to sleep, and my favorite, the Internet passcode. Salvation at last.

Lesson 74: Most public places in foreign countries have free internet connection due to so many clueless and phone-less tourists.

I texted my mother to ensure her I was indeed still alive, by some miracle, and passed out for a good chunk of the morning. When we woke up we ate croissants, and got ready for the fourth city in the row. It was time to explore.

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The first place we went to was the Milan Cathedral (Duomo) near the shopping strip of the city. We walked around the massively beautiful building and wandered into the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It was absolutely stunning with a glass roof and intricate details that was full of stores I’d only dream to afford. Milan was far more updated than the other cities in Italy as it has a much more modern feel than the classic, romantic look I’d gotten used to. This building however was the exception and was so carefully constructed and preserved.
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Outside the entire street was lined with flags of every country and had we not been on a schedule I just may have spent every single penny I had. Luckily I was only allotted a handful of stores and a short [shopping] blackout in which I spent more than I should’ve. We then got gelato at Cioccolati Italani and it made me feel sorry for all gelato that I would have in my life that was not from there.

Fun Fact: As a traveler, this will happen often. I have a favorite spot for favorite foods everywhere, and though it breaks my heart when I find a place with the perfect recipe that engages my tastebuds, it makes you appreciate it more. The best Bloody Mary is in Los Feliz in Los Angeles. Moving on.

A combination of pistachio, marshmallow fluff and strawberry goodness and I was in heaven. And as much as I could go on, its making my stomach yearn for it again and so we’re dropping this subject.

His brother got us tickets to the World’s Exposition (or Expo) which had I not gone with them, I may have the misfortune of never knowing this existed. The Expo is a worlds fair that, like the olympics, happens every few years but last anywhere from three to six months. Every Expo has a theme that each country is represented in and takes place in a different city every time. This years theme? Food. Where? Milan. When? Now. I’d happen to plan a trip at the perfect time because had I come two weeks later, this gem would’ve been gone until 2017. Fortunately for me, I landed at it today. Good juju man, I’m telling you.

All train signs lead to The Expo and the crowds were absolutely insane. Once we arrived we had to walk the better part of a mile just to get to the entrance and let me tell you this place was huge. HUGE! To put it into perspective for you, each country was represented not only by their own looping presentations but by an articulately designed building and cuisine to enjoy as a result of one of the coolest things I’d been to in 2015. What I don’t understand is how you can possibly choose just one or two places to have dinner when you can, quite literally, pick anywhere in the world.

There was authentic Hungarian food and their presentation had a DJ, the line for the Kazakhstan building was nearly three hours long because of their beautifully detailed and extensive presentation, London built a beehive and a honey maze that we were able to explore, but fortunately for us we waited for Thailand.
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The presentation, which consisted of three informational short films, revolved mostly around their production of rice and at the end we were able to get authentic cuisine and even shop for more to take home. It was insanely delicious. After hours of walking around we ended at the tree of life where we watched a twenty minute light, music, and water show and it broke my heart to know that this marked the end of my trip.

Traveling through Italy over a span of five days while making new friends and visiting old ones was an experience I won’t soon forget. Not only that but I’m lucky enough to know it will not be the only one of the sort. A crash course tour of a country with a native isn’t something everyone gets the chance to say they did and I’m thankful for the people that I’ve met that allow me to do just that. I, finally, slept like a baby the night before we left and waited in the airport the next morning debating on whether I could just stay and figure life out, but being an adult doesn’t work that way. So I bought several bars of my favorite European chocolate and sat in my window seat as I watched the last five days become a beautiful blur. A beautiful, ocean colored and NYC bound, blur.

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