Milan is the destination I probably had the fewest preconceived ideas about. I knew it had a big church, let’s face it, Europe is full of big churches. I also knew it was known for it’s fashion and style. I wasn’t wrong on either count.
I arrived at the station with absolute awe. This is a mammoth station. Not just it’s footprint, but the building seems to stretch to the sky, it is so grand. I got a taxi to where I was staying. I could probably have walked there, but my walking time was better spent discovering the heart of Milan.
So after a quick freshen up at Residenza Cenisio it was off on the great walking adventure of Milano. Not really knowing where I was heading apart from the Milan centre, I went off only to quickly get side-tracked by a street market. (Doesn’t sound like me at all, does it?) Yep, flowers, fruit and vegetables, cheese plus clothes, jewellery, household products, rip-off designer handbags.
From there, I headed towards an almighty park that seemed to be between me and my destination. Imagine that, there is an arc de triomphe. I actually just tried to google how many of these there are, because I have seen more than I was expecting. I came up with 75 including one, of all places, in Ballarat in my home state of Victoria, Australia.
I then exited the park and walked along the tree line road that ran beside the park. I passed a ‘cage’ that was empty, but seemed quite purposeful so I had better google it, and a rather interesting structure that appeared to be a recharge station for electric vehicles. A little further on, I walked past a smart car with panels ‘wrapped’ in the brown and gold LV logo. It looked as much like an oversized handbag as it did a tiny car.
I ended up at the end of the park where there was an underground railway station and an area for taxis on ground level. My return plan for my lodging had just been hatched. There was a souvenir stand so I took the opportunity to get my family the compulsory magnets. That was when I remembered the big church. Reaching again for google maps, I made my way in the general direction of the church. I got side tracked by spotting a Flying Tiger shop. They are so much fun. They are fun and inexpensive, you never know what you will find, from lollies, stationery, homewares….. just all sorts of things. I left the Flying Tiger and was starting to think if I didn’t find the big church soon, I would call it a day, but I really needed to find a toilet, so when I spotted a McDonalds sign pointing around the corner, I figured that it may be a good time to get a cold drink, a sit down, free wifi and free toilet. (Not all at once).
I followed the signage and spotted the church before anything. Big church? It’s massive! It is so imposing, it took my breath away. I can’t believe that you don’t see it until you are virtually on it’s doorstep. Well, I didn’t find a toilet in Maccas, but took the opportunity for an iced tea and a sit down upstairs. The vantage point is not to be underestimated. The amount of people in the Piazza del Duomo was amazing.
Big church? Check!
I consulted my trust App ‘Where is public toilet’. One of my neighbours gave me the heads up about getting an app of this type and I have to say, it is super handy. I turns out there was a pay toilet on the north side of the piazza, I just had to track it down. Found it! Three floors up by escalator followed by two flights of stairs and you find a turnstile, attendant and ticket machine (that gives change if you put more than the 50cents entrance). Once you get in the cubicle, the toilet seat rotates, slowly. Yep, it gets wiped before you sit on it. This whole experience is not one to enjoy if you need to use the conveniences without delay! When you finish your business and step away, the toilet flushes. It is a pristine convenience, and I have got to say I would much rather pay the 50 cents than to go to a dirty, dodgy toilet.
Returning to ground level somewhat refreshed, I then discovered the shopping centre next door, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This seems to be Milan’s mecca for the well healed, and well dressed, all the prestige brands are there. You know the ones, the ones that shared ‘my’ street in Nice. The building itself is beautiful, dating back to 1867. The size is pretty amazing too. The ceilings on the ‘arms’ are 32 metres high and the width is 14.5 metres. The central dome is 39 metres in diameter and 38.5 metres high. The shortest ‘arm’ is 19.6 metres long and longest, 105.
Fashion and style? Check!
Having seen some incredible sights, I decide to return to where I saw the taxi stop, aiming at the massive park again. As I got there, I saw there was a metro station towards my right which was a little closer to my accommodation, so I headed that way. I found the area, but no taxi area. I saw plenty of trams and buses, but knowing how confusing Melbourne’s public transport ticketing is, I didn’t want to even try, as well as the fact I had no idea what line or stop to aim for. So I walked….. and walked. I even went through Chinatown. Thank goodness for google maps! I was please to get back to my accommodation after almost five hours of meandering through Milan, a kind of passive sightseeing experience. Google maps tracked me walking almost 10 kilometres, no wonder it felt like time for a shower and winding down (and feet up).
I am writing this on the train to Venice. I got a taxi this morning Milan’s incredible Central Station, (money well spent and feet saved for Venice).
I found during my travels, that with the prebooked train travel, you only get checked by the conductor once. They have a tablet and once your seat is checked in, they leave you alone the rest of the journey. I have also learned to take a screen shot of your reference information, so even if you don’t have the ‘net (like in a tunnel) you can still find the reference quite easily.
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Where is public toilet