Milan and the Lakes


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Europe » Italy » Lombardy » Milan
June 21st 2018
Published: June 21st 2018
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Today we leave the beautiful city of Venice and head to the city of fashion, Milan. It was a long day but well worth it. We rose fairly early and hit our private water taxi for a last look at the Grand Canal and the beauty that is St. Marks as we made our way to the ferry landing. Our bus driver, Andreus, drove the bus to the ferry and arrived at the appointed stop just as we landed in our taxi. Perfect timing.

Since it was a long ride to Milan, I settled onto the bus for a much-needed nap. Both Cathy and I slept for the first leg of our journey. At about 10 AM we had a “comfort stop” at the Auto Grill.

Now for those who have not been to Europe the Auto Grill is an amazing place. It is like our gas station markets but significantly better. There is of course gas, toilettes and so much more. First there is a cafeteria style sit down restaurant. Here you have options for freshly made foods of various varieties. From salads, to soups, to pastas, of course, to sandwiches and desserts. You also have the option top buy sandwiches, pastries coffees and other items where you STAND UP to eat rather than sit down. These cost a little less than the sit-down option, so if you are in a hurry it is better to stand than sit. Today we stood.

Once you get past the food, the rest of the market is filled with wines, cheeses, meats, toys, candies, clothes and on and on. You can buy almost anything you may need for the road. So, if you are in Italy, be prepared to be impressed at the Auto Grill.

Back on the bus for the final leg of the ride to Milan. Milan does indeed have some very famous historical sites to see such as the Opera Theater and, of course, the Basilica; but the main attraction is fashion.

Here in Milan is every designer imaginable. The big names are well represented like Versace, Ferragamo, Chanel, Boss, and many more. You can buy anything from a 500E pair of shoes to a 5000E suit. I tried to by my sons a tie, but the lowest price was still over $100. Sorry boys but I felt that was a little much.

Since we had been here several times before we opted not to take the optional walking tour but decided to enjoy a sit-down lunch at a café. We walked out of the main plaza and say the prices drop a full 30% in 100 yards. We found a place that was in the shade, with a full view of the Basilica and a nice waiter from India.

Our waiter told us his life story. He was 25 years old and married with a daughter. He has been married for 2 years and his wife and child are still in India. He has been in Italy for 3 years now and is planning to stay another 5, then he wants to move to New York and start an Indian restaurant. Once he moves he will bring his family to the US. Interesting plan, but not unusual for his culture. Many times, the man leaves the country to find fortune while the wife remains behind.

So, Cathy and I dined on a split helping of pasta with pesto sauce and a caprese salad. She had water I enjoyed a short beer. Total cost 46E! That same meal 100 yards away was closer to 100E.

After lunch we walked in and out of many designed shops just to see what people were paying for clothes in the city of Milan. Believe me it was outrageous. Watches for 900E, ties for 300E, shoes for 1000E, shirts, suites and much more at prices that required a small mortgage. The funny thing was people were buying and buying big.

Many tourists were carrying away famous label shopping bags while many more locals were buying and wearing the latest fashion label. Most of the business men wore a light colored blue suite, white shirt and blue tie with brown or black shoes. I estimated the cost of such at over 2000E. They live in a studio apartment of 65 sq. meters for 1000E a month and they still spend a fortune on clothes. Only in Milan.

After Milan we headed to the lake region further north, under the shadow of the Alps. Our stop for the evening was the Splendid Hotel, yup that’s its name, bordering on Lake Maggiore.

Our hotel is one of the favorites of Europeans from all over. It is indeed, Splendid, with an infinity pool, posh lobby, huge bar, delicious food served in the restaurant and direct access to the lake itself.

I chose to rest in the pool, Cathy sat on a deck chair enjoying a book and the late afternoon sun. It was like we were on vacation!

After this respite it was time for dinner which consisted of choices of lasagna, minestrone, lake trout, the devils chicken and dessert of fruit and ice cream. The wine flowed freely as did the conversation around the 4 tables reserved for our family.

After dinner Cathy and I took a Passagatta or walk to help with digestion and get a lay of the land. We walked about 15 minutes to the city center, more a little town than a city. We enjoyed our stroll and headed back to the room for a much-needed sleep. The perfect end to a perfect day.


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