I recently had the opportunity to visit Milan, Italy, and boy– was Italy beautiful! While we were only there two days, we had a great time and squeezed as much gelato, pasta and wine as we could into 48 hours.
Getting to Italy was no easy task. We made the terrible mistake (which we will NEVER do again) of taking RyanAir. To all future study abroad students / anyone ever going to Europe: don't fall for RyanAir's cheap prices; it isn't worth it. Usually, we have to take a 40-minute bus ride to Arlanda Airport from Uppsala, and that completes the pre-flight travel. Because RyanAir has it's own (shitty) airport, we had to take a 40-minute bus ride to Stockholm and an hour and a half long shuttle ride to the airport from there. Once at the airport, the customer service was awful and confusing. Boarding the plane was a mess. RyanAir's airport in Milan is not any more centric– so after a two hour plane ride with a family screaming in Italian at each other over their baby crying sitting behind me, I got to take a 40-minute taxi ride into the city.
While we didn't have the easiest trip there, we tried our best to remain positive. I mean, we were in Italy, right? Our AirBnb was beautiful and right in the center of town, just 20 minutes walking distance from all the historic spots of Milan. Here's a little timeline of all that we accomplished during our 48 hours in Milan.
8 p.m.– We arrived! We took a 40 minute taxi into the city and found our beautiful AirBnb.
9 p.m.– Wandered down the street where our AirBnb was and founded a great Italian restaurant that was definitely not happy about hosting two Americans who don't speak a bit of Italian. After the food, we got gelato from another Italian who didn't seem extremely thrilled to be trying out his English. If we learned anything that weekend, it's that we're spoiled in Sweden where everyone speaks English.
11 a.m. – We set out for the day and gradually walked toward the city center.
11:30 a.m.– Breakfast! (Even though it looks more like lunch.)
12 p.m.– Our walk into the city.
12:30 p.m. – We reached the Duomo, also known as Milan's Cathedral. It's the most centric area of Milan, with everything else sort of circling around it. I think we almost cried when we first saw it. It's huge and so ornate and detailed. I think a lot of our conversations all weekend circled around how impressive architecture is in Europe. Were us American's so desperate to create an "American" style that we just shifted to lazy design? Why is it that as we've progressed technologically as a society our architecture has gotten so boring? I don't know, but the Duomo was extremely impressive.
1 p.m.– We headed to look at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is literally five seconds from Duomo. The only thing in our way was the hoards of tourists and dudes trying to sell selfie sticks and string bracelets. This was another first for us– since arriving to Europe I hadn't really gone to a tourism-heavy area. We don't like to pay for things so we usually stare at all the big sites from afar and keep going, which is probably why we see so much when we travel. Because of this, we hadn't had to deal with what I think a lot of people call the "gypsies" (although I highly doubt that's the politically correct term.) The number of times I was asked if I wanted to buy a selfie stick was CRAZY. Like, as I carry around my huge DSLR do you think I really look like the type of tourist to want a selfie stick? Also, what a weird world we live in where men selling products in high-tourism areas just walk around yelling "Selfie???" all the time. Our generation is kind of ridiculous.
2:30 p.m.– Thus begins our lengthy quest for food. Finding good food is honestly the hardest part of traveling in foreign countries. The menus are never in English, the staff never wants to serve you or help you decide if you want to eat there and once you do pick a restaurant you never know what's good to eat. We usually solve this problem by just asking the waiter what he recommends, but that doesn't always work. This lunch was definitely not the best, but also not the worst.
3:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.– We wandered. A lot. We went into random stores and museums, had a fika (keeping the Swedish tradition alive) and stared at designer stores we didn't dare go into. We also took a lot of iPhone pictures in front of cute doors, in hopes we would get a new Facebook profile picture (because we're damn millennials, right?)
5 p.m.– A nice shop keeper recommended we go to the Sforza Castle, so we made our way there. It is the main site of Expo 2015 and was filled with things to look at. We didn't go inside much, but the exterior was beautiful.
6 p.m.– We saw a girl with a Brandy Melville bag and freaked out. We spent the rest of the evening shopping next to the Duomo.
8 p.m. – Dinner. Successful meal this time, just look at that beauty.
11:30 a.m. – We set off to find brunch and make our way to the Navigli District, where all of the canals are in Milan. I believe that Monday's are the Italian's day off, because mostly everything in the area was closed. We mostly just wandered around and stared at the huge snails that were placed throughout this side of the city. Actually we were REALLY confused about the snails, so I did some Googling and learned that they were placed by the Italian Cracking Art group to tell the city inhabitants that "speed isn't always a virtue" and to motivate people to slow down and enjoy the scenery. Suuuure....
2:30 p.m. - We took a much needed nap.
3:30 p.m. - We walked 45 minutes with all of our stuff to Central Station, where we boarded a shuttle bus that took us to the airport. We then wandered around the airport in search of some last minute gifts. This is probably one of the only airports in the world (ok maybe not) that doesn't sell shot glasses, fyi.
8 p.m. - We boarded our horrible RyanAir flight back to Sweden.
11:30 p.m. - We took an hour and a half long shuttle back to Stockholm. We then sat in the saddest McDonalds I've ever seen while waiting for a night bus to take us home to Uppsala.
2 a.m. - Despite standing at the wrong bus stop, we got onto our shuttle.
3:30 a.m. - We arrived at Central Station, and began to walk home.
4:15 a.m. - We finally arrived to our apartment and went to sleep- concluding our weekend of international travel.