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Published: July 22nd 2017
This morning we got up at 8:30, still pining for more sleep but conscious that we only really had on full day in Milan (as the night before we had booked the first train not covered by our Interrail pass, at 07:10 from Milan to Nice). We had 'breakfast' or at least a coffee and a croissant, at the hostel as it was included in our room cost. Then we headed out for the day starting with a walk down a large road which ran parallel to our hostel and lead to a large park.
At the entrance to the park there was a large paved area with a 3 arched statue adorned with a figure controlling a number of horses. The sun was already high in the sky and it took us a while to find an angle which wasn't impacted by its glare and eventually got a few snaps. We then wandered through the park checking out a large statue of Napolean II, a basketball court :-D, a small stadium and a little duck pond filled with little turtles or terrapins! We stayed her for a bit trying to get some good pictures of the turtles, my selfie
stick became the hot spot of choice for a little red dragonfly which sat on it numerous times whilst I was photographing the turtles, seemingly sunning himself and being drawn to the warm metal surface.
At the bottom of the park there was an old castle surrounded by a moat, which oddly was full of cats and their kittens presumably seeking shelter from the sun and passers by. We wandered through the gates and into the main courtyard which was drenched in sun, we got a few pictures of the clock tower in the centre and the turrets in each corner. I also spotted a little lizard on one of the walls and I attempted to get a picture of him for 5 minutes of so but he was too camera shy and scurried off every time put the GoPro anywhere near him. Outside the front gates was a fountain but sadly it was being worked on so it had been drained, there was also a busker playing some classical guitar which I quite enjoyed so I deposited some change in his case.
Next we made our way across to the main square which house the cathedral, another
massive white marble looking building with nice circular windows. Although I appreciated it, I fell a bit like I have seen enough town halls, clock towers, churches and cathedrals on this trip to last me a lifetime, so this time I had very little interest in paying to go inside. Instead we made our way into Milans oldest shopping mall, a very posh looking structure lined with the likes of Prada, Gucci and Hugo Boss etc I had no plans to head into any of these shops or make any purchases but it was an interesting and attractive little arcade to say the least.
Having only had a small breakfast, our stomachs were calling and it was time to find somewhere for lunch. Dan had plotted a couple of cafes on the map the night before and we weren't far away from either of them so we headed over that way. E first one of the two looked spot on, so we didn't even bother investigating the second. It was called Princi and it is a chain but it certainly showed much more passion, freshness and variety than any Greggs would, but that's probably the closest U.K. chain I
could compare it two (or perhaps Patisserie Valarie). The ordering process was a little difficult as only a couple of the staff spoke English and you had to order and pay first (for most things) and then collect using your receipt, this meant no pointing at items to order them, this was a little awkward but it was worth it. I went for a sort of Tuna Niçoise salad (but without the leaves, so like a green bean tuna and egg salad) a café americano and a slice of ham and mushroom pizza, all of which were delicious and by the end I was stuffed. Dan opted for lasagne and tiramisu and what a slice of tiramisu it was! It was huge.
Bellies full, we started to discuss what the afternoon was bring. Dan was interested in going into the cathedral we had seen and also visiting a football museum we had passed, neither of these interested me at all and to be honest I was more than happy to have a bit of time to myself, maybe reading a bit of my book in the sun or finding a coffee shop to relax and get some iPad tasks
(email catch up, travel bookings etc) done. I also had that basketball court we had seen in mind! We decided to split up for the afternoon and do our own thing, aiming to meet back up again around 5pm (4 hours later) to make a plan for the evening.
I headed straight to a large Decathlon store we had seen earlier in the day to try and find a cheap basketball and pump. After a bit of searching, I got both for under €14, which I justified to myself as A) I would keep hold of them and use them at home and B) I'd paid that much a few days before for a few hours looking around Siena cathedral etc and I'd almost certainly enjoy shooting some hoops for the first time in 3 weeks more so than paying the same again to see Milan cathedral! I also picked up some new ankle socks, a small travel towel (for sweaty days) and some protein bars. I then headed back to the hostel via the metro to ditch some items from my bag, re-apply sun cream and change into some sports kit, then it was back to the park
to find the court again.
When I found the court again, there were a couple of guys playing 1 v 1 on one hoop, but the other was free so I got too it. It was extremely hot so I kept going back to my bag for water. As well as the two guys playing, the whole area was teeming with little groups of African immigrants seemingly setting up little day camps in the park, a particularly strong concentration of which were around the court and the little stage like structure off to one side of it. Looks like I had a little audience for my shooting practise! I was half expecting some of my spectators to ask to join in or the guys on the other hoop to want to play king of the court or something, but no one asked so I kept to myself and practised my shooting a few post moves. After an hour and half I was totally dehydrated so I packed up and got a litre of water and a PowerAid from the nearby concession. I stretched out my legs a bit on a bench in the shade and was about to sit
to read before Dan called to say he was done with his activities and in the park to find me. We both headed back to the basketball court and shot about a little before we walked back to the hostel for about 6pm, worn out.
We showered up and headed out for dinner an hour or so later, we sought out a pizza place recommended by hostel world which served its own craft beer and was highly rated. It didn't disappoint and we both enjoyed our starters and mains. Desert we saved for a gelato shop we had seen on our route to the restaurant, I decided to make my own mint chocolate chip, seeing as none of them seem to stock it, by getting a scoop of 'Menthé' and 'Noir Chocolate', it was yummy. Finally, it was back to the hostel to pack up our bags and get an early(ish) night ready for our 6am departure the next morning. I wasn't looking forward to it :-(
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