Travel can be brutish, and this journey was. Just outside Boston on the way to the airport we got a call from Lufthansa saying our flight had been cancelled. They feared a blizzard coming from the south that, in the end, never arrived. To her great credit our travel agent, Janet Flanders, called us within minutes of the cancellation with an alternative route – Boston to Toronto to Frankfurt to Milan – leaving the next afternoon. We took it.
Left Logan airport the next day, but not before Sally lost her iPod. Must have dropped it in boarding. The flights were jammed and the airports were chaotic but after 18 sleepless hours we arrived at the modest Hotel London Milano in the center of the city. We were only about 24 hours behind schedule from the cancelled flight.
Our friend Maureen (aka “Spin”) Sheldon, in Europe on business, was supposed to catch up with us there but with the change in plans she was there first. We dropped our bags in the room, being careful not to sit on the bed. If we stopped moving we would soon nod off from jet lag, and we had decided to adjust our rhythms to the sun in short order. We headed out to wander the streets.
Reduced to just one day in Milan, we tossed our plans out the window and headed for the Piazza del Duomo, the heart of the city and site of one of Europe’s most magnificent cathedrals. The History of the Duomo dates from its commission in 1386. It was completed in time for Napoleon’s coronation as King of Italy in 1805. We toured the interior and then took an elevator to the roof for a view of the city and the square.
Also on the Piazza del Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a striking covered shopping mall dating from the 1860’s. We found ourselves here more than once, and visited Zucca, a coffee bar that has been there since the opening 150 years ago.
The north exit of the Galleria leads to a Piazza and La Scala, probably the world’s most famous Opera House. There snails were on display and we took advantage of the backdrop.
When dark came, we wandered north into the neighborhoods, admiring the architecture and window shopping. We stopped in a small cafe for the local custom of ” ‘Appy Hour” – an assortment of appetizers which you are free to enjoy in any number of pubs for the cost of a drink. We found ourselves next to a bunch of American GI’s on leave from Germany.
Sally and Spin headed for a grocery to pick up some wine. I hopped into a cab and headed for the Hotel London. After I paid the cabby and he sped off I realized I left my bag and camera in the car. I chased him a couple blocks, but he never checked his rearview mirror.
He eventually found the bag and returned to the hotel. I gave him a tip. Now that I know the currency better, I understand his look of disapointment. I thought I gave him a stack of 2 euro coins, but I shorted him pretty bad.
Dinner at the restaurant across from the Hotel was fine. We crashed about midnight Milan time after about 36 hours without sleep.
That’s a lot for my first post. Learned a lot and I hope it gets easier. Apologies to all of you who got an email every time I fiddled with it. I think I can cut back on that and make sure you only get an email when I have real news.
The story gets better from here. Watch for the next post…