Edit Blog Post
Published: December 9th 2009
Abu Dhabi Airport
What an amazing mosaic tile job, - from floor to ceiling!
Special Edition - Milano Bike Show and All Blacks!
Being so handy to Europe here, and with the Milan Bike Show on in November, a tempting opportunity presented itself to catch up with a Kiwi motorcycle dealer mate, and to see all the latest models unveiled (and the bikes)!
Malcolm has been going for years and I’ve always thought…”Wow, one day….”, - and so it became a pipe-dream…
On Jude’s insistence I checked out airfares and accommodation and soon discovered the All Blacks were playing Italy in Milan the same week!! I found an awesome airfare online (www.expedia.com - thanks Robyn!) and, bearing in mind Milan is known as a city where hotels are more expensive than most in the world, -a “to die for” accommodation deal (www.booking.com) so the scene was set….
Without harping on about it, those sites (and no doubt heaps more) are amazing -I could look at the hotel rooms, zoom in on the Google Map, to see how far it was away from the “Statione Centrale” (the Metro), read reviews on what others thought, and compare $$$. The planning was a lot of fun - at one stage I had 3 websites
Abu Dhabi Airport
The Smokers Chamber
open comparing dollars on the same hotels - and the one I selected, varied from $1300 a week on one website to less than $600 for the same room!
Go figure. Guess which one I went for (No prizes). The challenge was travelling alone, some wanted to charge “per person, minimum of 2 for this room”.
Jude dropped me at the airport around 7pm on the Monday, - I didn’t need to be there for another hour or more, but was sick of waiting and rechecking the packing list so hit the trail. An easy Customs/Immigration process, - after paying a BHD40 fine for an expired (by 1 day)visa - refundable thankfully, then a quick 45 minute flight on a very empty plane deposited me in Abu Dhabi - the Capital of UAE, where I was to xfer flights - 10 hours later.
Nice airport - and huge. The main hall is entirely tiled in mosaic, from ceiling to and including the floor - what a job! I flagged the $NZ60 Luxury lounge/hotel option and finished my book, jumped on and off the free internet, drank hot chocolate, and tried unsuccessfully to snooze.
I lost an
My Milano Pad
Just 18" from the Laptop keyboard to the fridge door!
hour with the time zones, so only had 9 hours or so to kill, as did dozens of others.
The sun came up to a spectacular day there, and I entertained myself people-watching and reading the paper. A highlight included seeing a 40-something Guy with one leg fair zooming thru the airport on a roller blade with the aid of crutches - what a great idea! No doubt he has a spare one at home too.
I couldn’t believe how many smokers at times crowded into a bus-stop sized, glass smoking compartment to have a fix - boy did it stink whenever the door opened YUK.
The six hour flight on a crowded airbus was fine, nice brekkie & great to arrive in Milan and see the miles and miles of snow capped mountains gleaming in the brilliant brilliant sunshine. Customs etc was super easy, fast track city - the shuttle coach was easy peasy to find too and 7.5 Euro ($NZ15) later I was steaming toward Statione Centrale.
What a beautiful city - admittedly bathed in sun, but also streaming with hundreds and HUNDREDS of scooters and bikes, as well as trams, buses and cars! Off
In the LH corner is the Club Hotel, and at the end of the street in the foreground is the Centrale Statione - the hub of Milano
the bus with the suitcase on wheels and easily navigated the few blocks to the Club Hotel. A few dodgy characters hanging around the station as I had been warned, but plenty of Cops too, - all packing heat as well!
I was stoked with my wee room just off reception - modern and clean, all the mod cons including free wi-fi. It looked straight out to the footpath of an interesting one way street, resplendent in scooters and Euro cars - the street that is. The window had an electric roller door type shutter with slots in it, so I could open the window, shut the roller door and let the room air out during the day quite safely. Small things amuse small minds!! I booked in around 2pm, and texted Malcolm, who was at the first day of the Bike Show.
Following directions, I found a tiny nearby electrical store in hunt for a power adapter. I was warned it might close at 3pm - who the heck would close at 3pm?!! Found it, Closed, bugger, but a Lady sitting on the footpath indicated to ring the bell, and low and behold a wee elderly Gent
- this one a Piaggio 3 wheeler - very popular
popped out of nowhere to open up! Good on him, - he lives upstairs, works a few hours, and took my money for which I was grateful.
Coming from Bahrain, wintry Milan was a contrast, 11 °C - hey it was 24yesterday, with everyone wrapped up against the elements in jackets and coats - all dark colours - why is that, winter is depressing enough without colour - women in boots etc- it wasn’t that cold, but I did get a few looks in my short sleeves!
Malcolm and I met at my Hotel, had a good catch up, then went for pizza and beer at a nearby down market café, one which became a regular for us/& me once he flew out. The food and drinks were good value - all the travel guides I’d read said “just expect to be gouged for drinks in Milano, and enjoy yourself anyway”. Being close to the railway station it was a haunt for the rail staff (complete with locomotive ring tones on their mobiles lol) and sported several communal tables where people would cruise in for dinner and order a wine or beer and sit and chat with whoever
else was there - like a Italian family scene - fabulous! For the curious: 1 can and 1 650ml bottle of Heinie for 6 Euro. Great Kebabs down the road too, for € 4.
You could buy a 1 litre tetra-pack of white wine for E 1.15, but it was wino material, and that’s where ours ended up!
Had a great sleep, nice shower and a scrummy brekkie in the lovely dining room - Malcolm mentioned his free breakfast was just a couple of rolls - mine was fresh fruit and yoggie nice coffee and fresh rolls with soft cheese - YUM!!
You will see in one photo of a street corner, the Hotel on the left hand edge and the Centrale Statione is on the RH edge, so close.
Today was brilliant sunshine again, I met Mal at the Station at 9'ish - jumped on the underground Metro and 45 minutes later we arrive at the Station adjacent to the show-grounds, where we stroll along a series of travellators underground to the Exhibition Centre. The venue itself was incredible - opened in 2005, and purpose-built, it provides over 400,000m2 of display space spread over several
Milano Bike Show
- tick that goal off!
adjacent halls, plus a huge outdoor area where a motorcycle test-riding track was set up, plus a racing track, plus a motocross track, and 14,000 car parks!
From the gate, there were another series of travellators to take you about a kilometre to the exhibition halls.
Permanent café’s were in each hall, and plenty of lifts/toilets etc and gleaming clean - magnifique!
As I had wrangled a free Trade Pass, the first day I was at the show, was for trade only - but there were still 1000’s of people from the world over crawling over the displays. Bike manufacturers from all around the globe use shows like this to unveil their new models - and maximise the effect by draping sexy models over the bikes so photographers flock to take their picture, thereby spreading the exposure of the bike. I really did work, as the bikes where there were no models, didn’t get half the attention - amazing huh!
Ducati unveiled its much awaited new adventure bike, and Moto Guzzi surprised everyone with a trio of some spunky off-the-wall new models, so their stands were even more crowded. Bike makers also display ‘concept bikes’ to
the trade and public - bikes they’ve mocked up, to gauge public reaction. During and after the show, they monitor websites and magazines to see what people are saying about them, before committing to production.
BMW had a very futuristic 6 cylinder model on display for exactly this reason, as did Vespa with a ‘way-out’ Scooter called USB.
I took photographs and did a write up for NZ mag KiwiRider, - it’s also on their website at http://krnewsroom.blogspot.com/2009/11/shaftys-eicma-milan-show-report.html for those bike nuts who want more pics.
We must have walked a good 15 or 20 k’s around the site that day, including outside to see some amazing stunt riders.
The next day was just a matter of covering the gaps of anything we missed the first day, but with the public also there now, getting the good photo shots often mean’t pushing a few people over - but ya gotta do what ya gotta do!
At the end of both bike days, we were pretty knackered, so grabbed some dinner, had a couple of beers and hit the sack.
With Malcolm flying home for a family commitment, day 3 was an exploring and shopping
day. Getting directions from the front desk, and armed with my daypack and camera, off I went, headed out under overcast skies for Via Buenos Aires - the major shopping precinct 40 minutes walk away. The primary goal was for a nice Italian handbag or 2 for Judy, so every bag or fashion shop - and there are dozens, got a visit from Pete.
The challenge I had was being winter, everything is in dark tones - not what we were after! Getting some cool pics of the area and the neat architecture along the way, I eventually backtracked to a shop I’d spotted earlier, and selected 2 cool bags, with which my Darling is very chuffed, phew!
Back to the hotel to relax, catch up on e-mails etc, then out for dinner. Despite having done it for years while sales repping, eating alone in a restaurant never appeals much - taking a book or newspaper just emphasises you are alone - ‘Nigel No Mates! Anyway, a nice pizza dinner washed down by a couple, OK - 24 Becks.(Just kidding).
Drink prices really did vary, with locals trying to milk the tourist trade into the winter, so
I found it more convenient to visit the local suprette, where Suresh would sell me Heinies at a very good price and enjoy a very excited conversation about NZ cricket!
These conversations were often the only ones I’d have in English all day, and since my Italian vocab was limited to “Heineken or Becks” I had to be happy to overhear other English tourists chatting.
Getting a bit lost in the underground Metro one day, I asked an Official for directions “Up stairs and right”, so off I go, eventually coming to the point of being once again lost. Ah - there’s an official I can ask, - but by the time I was just about up to him, I realise it was the same Guy I asked a few minutes earlier - whoops, LOL
Day 4 - Saturday - The All Blacks play tonight, so off to a nearby hotel in the morning, where I picked up my ticket off Alan Hewson who was the StilRugby Ltd Ambassador for the day, and walking outside reading my ticket.
It was totally in Italian! So I zipped back and asked the Concierge to read it for me - what
This is one Cop you'd be happy to get a ticket from!
a top Bloke. “You’ve got a great seat” he declared - he watches AC Milan at the same stadium, - and told me the gates open at Noon for a 5.30pm kickoff. He gave me a map and highlighted what station to jump off the Metro.
I quickly got organised, All Black Jersey on under a discreet vest, a NZ flag in my wee backpack, and off I went. The Metro was packed like sardines with big burly Italian labourer types in full regalia, coloured wigs and all. The carriage I was in burst into rugby songs, - amazing sounds - and some real Tenors amongst them.
Off the train in a throng - no need to ask for directions, just follow the crowd - about a 15 minute walk I was told, and along the way there were café’s dotted selling pizza/panini’s/souvenirs’ and beer - very efficient!
I found my seat, collected some free souvenirs scattered about the empty seats and settled in for the other 70,000 or so to arrive. I was amongst a bunch of Kiwi’s who had either made the pilgrimage, or zipped over from the UK, Germany etc. We were about 6
...looking smug on a Benelli - he's the importer!
rows from ground level right on half way - perfect!
It wasn’t a great game rugby wise, finishing with a collection of failed scrums, but we won, - and I was there to support our Boys. The crowd atmosphere - with a record sell out crowd for this stadium - was fantastic. The Iteye’s are very passionate about Rugby and were very proud to host the AB’s.
An easy trip back to the hotel, during which I swapped my Kiwi flag for a local one from another fan - a couple of quiet beers and in to bed.
Day 5 was a spare, so with occasional spitting rain, I caught a Tram to Duono (after getting a great pic of a Police Patrol Moto Guzzi Norge 1200, yum) - the trams are free, just hop on, hop off, a neat idea. I was watching the flashing sign for my ‘stop’ then came to realise it flashed the same thing at every stop, DOH, - it probably said “ Tram stopping” or something! A least Heineken is spelt the same in Italian!
Anyway, without much of a plan, I couldn’t really get lost - so following the crowds, I
come across the most beautiful public square surrounded by historic buildings, including the magnificent Duono Cathedral - wow. There was a mass in progress, however I was still able to join the throng wandering thru to admire the interior. I later paid € 5 to climb up on the roof and admire it and the surrounding views from above! What a beautiful city.
I’m still amazed at the 1000’s of scooters all efficiently parked - often on the footpath, but also in dedicated parks, - even many with 3 wheels and I even saw a Lady commuting on a quad! Also heaps of SmartCars - those tiny ones you can park straight into the kerb between other cars!
Home to the hotel - then popped out for pizza and beer and then back to pack for the flight home tomorrow.
An easy but all day-travelling trip home, and great to see my Honey at the Airport, - after some juggling of visa’s to get me thru as my visa status was upgraded while I was out of Bahrain.
So guess what City is now my all time favourite? Any one that Judy’s in - I missed her
This one looked like fun
terribly! But, wow, what a great trip!
Tot: 3.037s; Tpl: 0.024s; cc: 7; qc: 54; dbt: 0.0286s; 3; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb