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Published: August 12th 2013
We slept well despite the main line for the railway running past our apartment.
After the scorching hot day yesterday we planned to go into the city early and then be home before the predicted 36C at 3pm happened.The temperature predicted at 5pm was still going to be 35C !
Ah,bacon and eggs again for breakfast which will set us up well for the day.
Just in case the shop selling the bus/subway tickets was closed today we purchased our tickets yesterday and it was just as well because being Sunday,everything was shut.
We only had to wait a moment or two for the bus to arrive to take us to the subway.
The bus filled up as it trundled along the local streets towards the subway station.At one stop a family of 4 got on board.Mrs was a large lady and had a small dog on lead while Mr, who was rather scruffily dressed ,had two dogs of the same size on leads.The 2 young adults of the family sat behind their parents.One of the dogs started yapping loudly and Mr fed it some dog biscuits and the journey to the station proceeded in silence,as
far as the dogs were concerned.
We lost sight of the family until just before the train was due to arrive.Mr went to the end of the platform to get on the last carriage while Mrs and the 'children'went to the front.At the time none of this meant anything to us.
However, that changed after we got on board and after one station noticed Mr coming through the carriage from the rear of the train with a McDonalds drink cup looking for spare Euros from passengers.!!Perhaps that was why they didn't appear to pay a bus fare when they got on the bus,because they didn't have any money or was this just the usual way they funded their trip to town?!
We hadn't been able to book a ticket to go into the gallery to see Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' as only a certain number of people are admitted each day and it was booked out until October.We did think that there might be a slim chance of getting a ticket for people who didn't turn up or had cancelled at the last moment and so that was out first port of call when we emerged
from the subway.
After walking the wrong way out of the subway and then walking past the gallery we finally made it but there were no tickets going for any time today.
With that we headed for the Milan Cathedral and after avoiding a number of African males trying to sell their wares to the tourists stopping to take photos we got ourselves inside the cavernous Cathedral to watch and listen to the mass which included sermons and prayers by two Cardinals.
The interior of the Cathedral was very impressive with some beautiful stained glass.The acoustics from the singing sounded perfect.
With the heat building we looked to walk in the shadows of the buildings were we could and strolled through a couple of streets with expensive brand shops like Prada etc.All of the stores were closed,not that we could afford any of the prices of the goods we saw in the windows.Most of the shops had minimal stock in them and perhaps that's the way the buyer leaves feeling they have something that is unique to them.
We found the Brera Gallery which is housed in an old convent built in 1572.Many of the
works had come into the procession of the church through 'acquistion' over the years.One of the more impressive paintings was 'Sermon of St Mark in Alexandria by Bellini,a very large work that you are best advised to take a seat and examine it as there is so much going on in the painting.
We spent a couple of hours strolling around in the air conditioned comfort only to have to face the heat again when we had finished.
Just down the road from the gallery was a cafe where we could see people were sitting under vast sun umbrellas drinking long,cold beers.Actually we could see people doing this before we went into the gallery and so promised ourselves that was where we would have lunch.
While we sat and ate our 'sandwiches'and drank our beer people watching we also watched a very dark African guy siting just out of the sun resting against a wall of a closed shop.He had his wares,timber African masks,out on a sheet on the footpath in the sun.We wondered how these Africans get on in Italy which is not their home of birth and whether the welfare system as it is picks
them up or do they just have to fend for themselves and hope for the best which is probably better than from where they came from.
Initially we felt like we might like to shout him a beer but then thought,no,it wouldn't be his first choice of drink.And then someone from the café came out with a glass of water for him and that put our minds at rest.
Although it was getting warmer all the time we walked along in the shade as best we could on the way to the Sforza Castle stopping at the La Scala Theatre to check out opening times for tomorrow when we would include in our tour of the city day two.
With the temperature in the mid 30's we or should I say,I,wanted a gelato.But it was Sunday and all the ones we passed as we walked were closed.What trade they were missing out on considering the number of tourists about.
However,as we neared the castle we found a shop open and as you would expect doing a roaring trade.Even Gretchen said she would have her usual chocolate flavour adding that she would stick it on the end
of her nose to cool herself off.I thought sticking it inside your tummy was a better idea.I went with a two scoop limone which was very refreshing.
We decided not to try and walk and lick the gelatos at the same time and so took up a stance at a table outside in the shade.
It's funny how sensitive the ears can be when you haven't heard a downunder accent for some time,weeks in fact.It wasn't Kiwi but the next best thing,an Aussie accent.
A woman was standing on the edge of the pavement with her hand held Navman GPS working out a route to somewhere,looking all around her as she did,perhaps not sure if the GPS was giving her what she wanted.
Then other Aussies appeared,all looking like Aussies do,you know, and soon there was a group of 8 or 10 of them all waiting for instructions of where to go.We worked out that they were trying to decide where to have a late lunch but no one could make a decision.Then the woman with the GPS and one other took off across the road.We waited and finished our ice creams but she didn't come
back and the Aussies left waiting for her started to look at restaurants further up the road.We didn't wait to see the outcome of this episode that provided us entertainment while we licked our ice creams down and into our stomachs.
Sforza Castle is an imposing fortress built in the 15th century with a very inviting fountain outside the main entrance.People were having their photos taken and we were surprised given the heat that there wasn't anyone in there paddling about to cool off.
We strolled around the park behind the castle having decided to give the museum inside the castle walls a miss as it was just too hot to be inside if there was no air conditioning.
The park was very well treed and there was plenty of shade which was just as well given there was absolutely no breeze to even provide a little cooling.
On the way out we passed one of those people who dress up in appropriate costume to the location and stand as a statue for people to give them money or have their photo taken with them and give them money.We did the usual cheap shot and take
video from a distance but really should have given him/her a Euro or two just for being out there in the hot sun being part of the history of the castle and looking the part.
Surprisingly the journey home underground was much cooler than being on the surface as usually subways in the heat can be stifling places to be.We missed the connecting bus to our apartment by a few seconds appearing out of the subway just as the bus pulled out.
With 20 minutes to wait we though about walking but it was no cooler out in the suburbs than it was down town and so dismissed that idea waiting under the shade of a tree instead for the next bus.
A great benefit of the apartment is the air conditioning which works perfectly and we came home to the inside cooled to a refreshing and comfortable 23C and a cold beer and wine waiting for us.We had been a bit longer than we intended and so tomorrow we will shorten our time out if the heat is as much as it was today.
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