In hindsight, stoping in Milan on my way from Athens to Madrid sounded like a great idea. I had wanted to go to Milan for a weekend this past year but never got the chance. When I was booking my tickets home from Athens, the best way (and by far the cheapest) was to book a ticket from Athens to Milan and then Milan to Madrid. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? I found that I could store my backpack for the day for a small fee while I explored the city and was sold on my bright idea. What I didn’t realize was that this little ‘stop’ in Milan would turn out to be more of a headache than I thought.
Honestly, anything that could go wrong on a trip did go wrong. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic but it was one of the most stressful traveling days I’ve had in a while. I woke up in Athens, spent the day in Milan and went to bed in Madrid. Here’s how my day in Milan went.
Arrive in Milan. I quickly changed out of my travel clothes and into a dress. I did my makeup in the airport bathroom while fighting for mirror space with fellow travelers. I found where the Left Luggage place was and stored my backpack for a small fee of 10€. I asked the man (who didn’t speak any English) why he was charging me more for my bag when the price online and on the door was less. My bag is only 28L and compared to other bags is pretty small. In his broken English I interpreted what he was saying (with the help of hand gestures and using someone else’s bag as a comparison) that mine was too bulky. Bulky? Whatever. I handed him my money and proceeded to ask him another question about picking up my bag. I gathered by the sign on the door that the Left Luggage place was only open until 7:00pm. I would try to get there before then but just in case something happened, I wanted to make sure I knew where to go. He couldn’t give me a clear answer other than, “…closed at 7:00pm.” So I left to find the bus.
I took the bus from Airport to city center. I noticed two girls waiting in line who had just dropped their bags off as well, so I asked them were to go to pick up the bags later. They said we had to go inside and ask someone to help us at arrivals. Still wasn’t sure exactly where to go, at least I had some more information. The girls were on my same flight from Athens and also flying back to Madrid that night. So I’m not the only crazy one with this idea!
The bus ride took about an hour. They dropped us off at the central train station and this would be the same place where I would catch the bus back to the airport in a few hours. Easy. My Ticket for my walking tour and to see The Last Supper was at 2:15. I had plenty of time to get there, I kept telling myself. Being a little cheap (and stubborn) I decided I would walk from the train station to the city center. Not smart. It was about a 45 minute walk which didn’t bother me but it was hot and it kept getting hotter. I also hadn’t had anything to eat since about 7:00am before my flight from Athens and I’m the type of person that needs to eat every three hours otherwise I start to feel light headed. As I was on this lovely hot 45 minute walk, I told myself I would just pop into the first place I saw that had take away food and quickly eat before the tour started. I walked by so many sit down restaurants with no take away options as far as the eye could see. I was getting hangry. I also was still walking (using up all my battery juice on my phone because I was using Google Maps) and still too stubborn to take a bus because I had committed to this walk.
Stop at little grocery store for food. By this point in my walk, I had cursed at myself more times than ever before and was seriously regretting my idea to stop in Milan. I was starving and needed to shower. One of the worst parts about being so hungry is that I never know what I want to eat. It was slim pickings for salads and sandwiches so I left with a small (and expensive juice) some raspberries even though there were raspberries in my juice and a water. Not what someone who is starving would probably choose but sometimes I don’t make the best decisions. The line for check out was long but it managed to move pretty quickly so I only had to power walk, not run to meet the group.
Arrive at tour sweating. But not before trying to wash off my raspberries while still walking and spilling water all over me. Winning. I checked in and chugged some more water. Shortly after, I realized I had to use the bathroom. Damn you juice and water. I would have to try and ignore it and wait. Is it 5:30pm yet?
Tour starts on time. The group was a little big for my liking and some people in my group were, let’s just say ‘know it alls’ which always bothers me. Our poor guide had to tell them more than once to let him explain things. Our first stop was The Last Supper, the whole reason why I wanted to visit Milan. The amount of time you’re allowed inside is very limited. Once we were done, we made our way back outside. Two people showed up late and missed The Last Supper. I felt a little proud of myself for making it to the tour on time.
(The only proof I have that I was in Milan…)
We went next door to a cathedral. The tour guide took one look at me and shook his head. “What did I do?”, I asked. I was wearing a dress with exposed shoulders. Italy is a very catholic country and you cannot enter a place of worship with exposed shoulders or with shorts or a dress above your knees. I should have remembered this from six years ago when I was in Rome and not let into a cathedral but it was hot out and I was in a rush. At least I was wearing a long enough dress so I guess I had that going for me? One of the women on my tour had a scarf with her that she didn’t need (smart lady) and she let me borrow it to cover my shoulders. Thank you!
The tour continued and people left because they only came to see The Last Supper which I found a bit rude but I guess it’s what people do if they waited too long to buy tickets.
We saw many other sights along the tour including a castle, the Duomo and the Galleria. My phone battery was running pretty low so I had to be careful not to use it too much so I knew what time it was. I took very little pictures with my phone and relied heavily on my GoPro. As soon as we are walking up to the Duomo my SIM card reads, ‘FULL’ on my GoPro. This is what I get for not uploading my videos and pictures since April. I quickly snap one pic with almost dead phone and continue on.
Say my thanks and goodbye to the tour guide and ask the best way to get back to the main train station because I am NOT walking this time. I find the metro and use my last little bit of change I had on me to buy a ticket. The main train station was only a couple stops away. Now I’m kicking myself for not taking the metro earlier and saving myself from turning into a sweating, starving mess. I get to the bus and the same girls are also there. They look tired but not as tired as me. We had 30 minutes before the bus left. I was there earlier than I planned so the wait didn’t bother me and I would have plenty of time to get my bag and relax before my flight.
Bus leaves and I catch some snooze. I wake up and see we aren’t moving because we are stuck in traffic. Great. I keep checking my extremely dead phone for the time. It’s 6:45pm. I can’t see anything up ahead and hope that traffic will clear soon. The bus driver stops the bus and makes his way down the isle of the bus opening up the windows on the roof for some air as he say’s something in Italian which I am able to interpret as “…there’s been an accident.” Awesome. I continue checking my phone for what feels like ages until my phone dies. At least I’m on my way to the airport, right?
First thing I do is ask the girls on my flight for the time. I’m a little relieved when they tell me and walk with them to arrivals to try and figure out how to get our bags. I still have over an hour before my flight. It took us a while, but we were able to figure out how to get our bags. As we were walking to have someone unlock the Left Luggage place for us, my stomach drops. I realize my phone is dead and my boarding pass is on my phone. I’m panicking. I get my bag as fast as I can but not before the guy stops me at the door and questions my other bag (the backpack I was carrying around all day) saying my ticket says I only checked one bag. I told him I had this bag with me all day and ran out the door.
The panic gets worse. I’m running through this airport like a complete idiot. My big backpack on my back and my small backpack on my front. Just picture it. I’m also still wearing a dress if you couldn’t remember. I can’t find an outlet to save my life. I’m checking in bathrooms, behind places I probably shouldn’t be looking and seeing nothing. Places are starting to close and I’m dripping with sweat once again. I finally find a cafe that is still open. I ask the man behind the counter if he’ll charge my phone for me for a little bit since my boarding pass is on there. I told him I would buy something. He said yes and I decide that I’m going to buy a Coke and a water. I don’t even drink Coke. Oh, and I still had yet to go to the bathroom. I sit down, open the Coke and then I look at the screen and see the most beautiful word ever, ‘ritardato’ which translates to ‘delayed’. Never have I been more happy in my life.
Arrive in Madrid. I’m exhausted and home is still an hour away. The metro takes forever and I debate if i should take a taxi home. I decide to stick it out.
I finally make it home, shower and pass out.