Published: July 27th 2012June 24th 2012
After 18 months in Baghdad, where my concept of personal freedom had been somehow scaled down, the idea of a road trip around Europe was very tempting. A month to explore, enjoy life, meet new and old friends & most of all cheer every moment, definitely something I relate to! Marta’s annual party in Poland was the trigger to this trip, I would not have missed it for anything in this world but decided to come through the long way from France by car through Italy, Austria, Czechoslovakia & Germany.
Nice, France – a fresh start…
Although the trip technically started on the other side of France, Bordeaux that is, feel like Nice was the real beginning of it, a happy one as I catch up with one of my closest friend Sophie and not so happy as not even two hours after having arrived in Nice, someone broke into my rented car and stole my luggage…Sometime I really wonder which place is the safest, I work most of the year in conflict area where technically security is an issue and it is when I am back
in France that I get stolen! Ironic somehow but as well an unfortunate reality in what we referred to as developed countries, one should never be too careful. Tip number one…(
that is the one given by the police station where I spent quite a few hours), in South Est of France never ever leave anything in the trunk of your car, especially when you car plate number is not a local one. On average, ten similar incidents take place per day in Nice alone and as far as the police is concerned, except taking notes of the fact, nothing more is being done…
On the bright side (there is always one), had my camera, iphone and paperwork with me, and this year collections are actually quite nice, so it was the occasion to go for a massive shopping outing the next day, something that I had kind of been missing while in Baghdad, so not the end of the world and definitely not a reason to spoil my trip!
Milano, curvy road & alta moda
Sunday, after having loaded my brand new everything into an as well
brand new car, time to head to Milano with Sophie. 320 km later mostly on highway but with so many tunnels along the way that speed is most of the time limited, we reached Milano, checked into the hotel and map on hand headed to the city center.
One thing I enjoyed when traveling into a new city, is the wow effect that you got when you exit from the subway
station and grasp the first sights of the heart of a city. This was very true in Milano, as we went out at Duemo
plaza, with its gigantic gothic cathedral and the entrance of Galleria Vittorio Emaluele II
. The Cathedral, the third largest in the world, is simply superb and taking a walk through the galleria with its mosaic floors, elaborated facades and domed iron & glass ceilings, make you wonder where to look at. Between the Alta Moda shops and the architecture plenty to keep you busy wondering around.
The Teatro alla scala
is right behind the galleria and funny enough took us a few minutes to spot it! Was expected a large & dramatic opera house as after all it is
often referred to as one of the greatest in the world, but the actual opera viewed from the outside, looks modest and simply blind in with the surrounding neighborhood. If it wasn’t for the sign I would not have guessed that it was the Scala!
After a proper Italian style lunch, already in love with Italians, their food and art de vivre, time to head to the Quadrilatero d’Oro
, the fashion sanctuary of Milano. Having worked a few years in the fashion industry before joining the humanitarian sector, I simply loved to scroll down the alleys of this tiny “golden rectangle”; my favorite of all the Jimmy Choo boutique, the largest I go to see so far with a collection that truly make you fall in love…and this is when I realized that the summer sales were only starting a week later, sometime my lack of planning when traveling really make me wonder!
Time for Sophie to head back to France, and for me to continue my exploration of Milano, with one of my favorite way to discover a city, simply walking around and occasionally getting lost for a little while! Architecture wise it
is kind of difficult to spot a main trend, really felt that Milano was a melting pot of genre
, from middle age to contemporary style, which make it all the more interesting. Plenty of cafes to relax and although Milano is clearly a business city, one can feel that people do take time to enjoy life, Sunday evening and although the next day is a working day, restaurants & cafes are reasonably busy.
Got a chance as well to visit the Poldi Pezzoli Museum,
not so much into Raphael and Bellini but the simple fact to visit the interior of a palazzo was interesting in itself. The one painting which did catch my attention is the Ritratto de Donna, XV century painting depicting an aristocratic woman where details and light are everything (picture doesn’t do it justice but still better than nothing…)
As for the “Last Supper” viewing, well it would have to be for a next visit, learned too late that one has to book in advance through internet and only a limited number of tickets are available every day…That would be for tip number 2!
Next stop: Venice!
There are more photos below