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Published: December 9th 2011
Just outside of Cadorna Station in central Milan.
The overnight flight on Italian Alitalia airlines from New York was fantastic! A welcome antidote to the cramped Delta code-sharing frlight from Denver earlier. I spilt coffee on myself during turbulance, then on the poor guy in front of me when I got up to let the two ladies next to me out for their potty break. He was mad at first, but delt with it gracefully and got over it fast once he saw I was a monk.
The Alitalia flight crew were great, especially the stewards. Not having spoken Italian in so long, I was suprised how easily it came back to me. However, I kept slipping into Portuguese but they understood. They were very intrigued I was a Tibetan Buddhist monk. They and the women flight attendants were very accomidating. I mean I know that's their job, but they treated me with extra care and kindness which I appreciated. Wearing robes often has its advantages. And oh my the BEST airline food I ever had! Dinner was a chicken in pesto sauce with penne carbonara.
I enjoyed the on-demand TV. I decided it was apprapot to watch The Darjeeling Limited
again, by one of my absolute
favourite directors, Wes Anderson staring Owen Wilson and Anjelica Huston.
I arrived in Milan, Italy on Tuesday 6. December 2011 at 9AM. I had 12 hours to kill before my flight to New Delhi that evening. I took the wonderful Malpensa Express train in from the Malpensa Airport into the city to the Milano-Cardona station which took about half-an-hour. On the way to the trainstation at the airport, I heard a friendly "tashi delek" behind me on the escalator. It was a Tibetan from Nepal who turns out was on the same flight from NYC, but we didn't see one another. He too was going to be on my same flight to New Delhi, and had the same plans to explore Milan since the opportunity presented itself and neither of us had been here. He wanted to take a bus and get on and off. I had made plans to take the Malpensa Express train, part of the Milan metro system and I love trains. So we parted ways here.
I spent the day roaming about the district, and the architecture was spectacular. Absolutely beautiful as was the entire ambience. I intended and hoped to make it to
the National Museum of Science and Technology also known as "Leonardo da Vinci." My choice was this or The Fashion District - the Italian haute couture (high fashion) capital rivaled only by Paris. I was curios to see the uttermost of samsara. Alas, I made it to neither.
I stumbled upon the 15th century Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace) cathedral, which the train ticketing agent suggested I seek out as it housed da Vinci's The Last Supper.
Well, being the monk traveling on a modest monk's means, I opted-out of the tour. I didn't want to spend a lot of money my first day, especially given that the dollar is weak to the euro. So I passed on the expensive entry fee. I did explore the cathedral and other Renaissance art within. I'm all about FREE and CHEAP. I was astonished by the detail of the building erected in the 1400s!
I then sat in the outer courtyard people-watching, but in truth a Tibetan Buddhist monk was the one being watched. There were a lot of student field trips to this cathedral today. I gather a lot of attention everywhere I go in America, but
don't really thing about it. It bothers my Tibetan brothers-in-robes more than me. I realize I'm a novelty and source of curiosity. People I'm with tend to be more conscious of the attention I draw than I am, and when they comment on it, I only hope I'm not a source of embarassment for them in drawing this attention. I only assure them that by merely seeing me, or rather me as a robed symbol, it creates vastly positive imprints on people they don't even realize. Anyway, Americans are a little more discrete. The Italians, being Italian are anything but discrete. They'd stare and stare. I think many had no clue what I was. Some older Catholic woman on the way to the cathedral really gave me quite a look. Some people seemed to know what I was and acknowledged me in a very friendly manner.
I needed to get online to check some things, and found a cafe that offered internet, but for some reason not between noon and 3. It was after noon. Oh well, they had an appealing and affordable menu. The risotto Milanese caught my eye, one of my favourite dishes, so I decided to
have some. When in Milan..... I moved on exploring, and çwound up much to my joy and suprise at Sforza Castle and adjacent Sempione Park, one of two large parks near one another like Central Park in Manhattan. The castle was enormous. It was completed in ten years in 1368. Now it houses several museums that had I had the time and willingness to fork out euros would have been interested in investigating.
Fatigue after a long flight to Milan, and exhausting week prior getting ready for this trip set in, so I took the train back to the airport to get online and take care of some things. There was a Harry's Bar (of Florence) at the airport, and I so wanted to eat there, but didn't want to pay the prices. I thought long and hard about having a Bellini, a REAL authentic Harry's Bellini, but not for 11 euros. That's 762 rupees - a night's stay and a day of eating very well.
I met a nice Italian man, a Buddhist how initiated a conversation about asking to share my power outlet I found to charge his iPhone. We got to talking about his iPhone,
and problems he was having and I offered him free troubleshooting (being a retired Apple engineer). Then we talked about his travels to Dharamsala. He bought me an espresso and parted saying it was very auspicious in meeting me. That was nice.
He ate lunch at McDonald's. I thought about getting dinner there as it was cheap, but thought why would I want to eat there while I'm in Italy? Then I checked the menu. WOW! Nothing like the American menu or incarnation, except in brand name only, it was decidedly Italian. There were three burgers that appealed to me, but I decided on one called the McItaly Adagio. It was amazing. It had this eggplant mousse (only in Italy!), a ricotta salad, and fresh, robust Roma tomatoes on a roasted garlic roll. As far opposite the spectrum of a Quarter Pounder as you can get. The burger was larger than the American size McDonald's which seems to have diminshed over the last 20 years. And it didn't leave my stomach feeling like rock gut. I had two desserts because I couldn't decide. I had their tiramisu which was sublime, and a PISTACHIO McFlurry, which was delicious. It was
a nice day in Milan.
Please click on the "Photos" button to view more pictures from Milan.
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