The Return to Milan
I spent Oct. 20-Nov. 21, 2018 cycle touring unsupported from Milan, Italy to Split, Croatia this post recounts part of that journey.
When I arrived in Milan in October it felt like summer. I was wearing shorts and the days didn’t feel truncated. Coming back to Milan at the end of November was an entirely different experience. I didn’t get lost, which was good. I wasn’t in a bad mood due to unexpressed love or sleep deprivation or culture shock. But I was cold. The skies were grey and we were staying in an AirBnB near the bus terminal that would take us back to our respective airports.
I stored my bike at the Malpensa luggage storage for 10 Euros a day. It was at a different terminal than the one we flew into from Split and required a shuttle there and back as the busses to the city center left from the regional terminal we flew into. Craig had booked a luggage storage in town and wasn’t thrilled with my decision to find the luggage storage in a different terminal less than an hour to close. He stayed downstairs with our luggage and I took my bike upstairs to find the room. I arrived and they required a passport. My passport was downstairs with Craig. They wouldn’t keep the bike box with them while I ran to get it so I had to slide the bike box back to the elevator and back through the hallways to the entrance. I grabbed my passport, dropped off my coat, as I was sweating, and pushed the bike back through the hallways to the elevator.
Back on the bus with our bike bags and Craig’s boxed bike, we went to the regional terminal and then onto a bus to the city center. The bike storage was in a hotel lobby which felt like it was ages away from the bus station. The sidewalks of Milan aren’t nearly as smooth as the airport halls. I carried the bags and was grateful I wouldn’t have to deal with my bike for a few days.
We walked to the AirBnB and met our host who took us up the smallest elevator I’ve ever been in and into his apartment. Intent on enjoying all that Milan had to offer, we decided to check out an outdoor market the next morning. The smells and tastes of Italy are unparalleled. The fresh oregano and thyme filled my nostrils at a stand that also sold olives and dried fruits. I bought some.
Craig and I each bought stovetop percolators for brewing our own espressos and some ground coffee. Craig bought some parmesan and we split a wheel of spicy hard cheese. There were tables of clothes, electronics, fruit and cosmetics. The market went on for blocks but after a while the stalls seemed to repeat and we were getting cold.
Craig had a recruiting call for a job he hoped to be hired for back in the UK. He was very mysterious and said he wanted to go to a specific coffee shop. My Croatian SIM card didn’t work in Italy so I had no idea where we were headed until we arrived at the Crazy Cat Cafe. I almost jumped for joy. I had never been to a cat cafe although I had always wanted to go. Craig talked about his strengths and communication style while I pet one of the nine cats that live at the cafe. The cat-shaped cups and cat themed decor more than made up for the litany of rules such as talk quietly, no flash photography, don’t wake sleeping cats and the most difficult to follow: don’t pick up any cats.
We walked through the high-end stores in the Galleria admiring the mosaic murals and architecture and we walked around the Duomo cathedral. It was mid afternoon and this was supposed to be our day to really see Milan but we weren’t feeling it. We had done and seen so much in the month since we’d last been in the fashion capital of Italy and decided that what we really wanted to do was Netflix and chill. So we went back to the AirBnB, stopped at a store for beers and snacks and camped out with my iPad to binge watch Narcos Mexico. It was the perfect, if anti-climatic end to the most epic month-long fourth date.