|Finally arriving in Milan around 9pm, we whizzed across town in the subway, checked into our hotel then went into the centre of town for dinner around 10pm. By the time we had finished our delicious pizza and salad (total 30 euros including wine) the time had crept on to 12.30am. Now, I knew that the subway was likely to close, but I considered that the existence of trams and buses would prevent this from being a problem. However, did not realise that these also finished relatively early. We got the last tram around 1am which got us as far as the Central Station, still a good couple of hours walk from the hotel and in a relatively dodgy area - so we decided a taxi was the only choice.
The cue for the taxi was around 50 people, but it moved quite quickly and surprisingly enough the cab driver did not seem to run us up too bad. All the same, by the next morning I was starting to suffer from lack of sleep. No matter, we were up early for a full day of sightseeing and shopping. Luckily for me, some of the shops were closed on Sunday, although of those that were open, most were over Korina and my price range.
So the day was mostly spent sightseeing - firstly the Duomo - the impressively large cathedral covered in scupltures and then later on at the local castle (we've got our castle average to maintain!). The front of the Duomo was covered for restoration which was disppointing, but we went inside and had a look around then went up to the roof for a closer look at the Gothic styles and the somewhat grey view.
After sampling some more excellent Italian food (most notably some random fruit desserts we purchased on the street) we then made our way over the the Castle. The castle itself was of an impressive size but the restoration seemed a bit random and the muesums held within were not overly interesting. Korina enjoyed messing about with varioud random cats that seemed to hang out there (despite my winding her up about getting rabies from them!).
As we were starting to run out of time, we then adjourned to the local pub for a quick beer before the flight home. Beer being what it is, it was not long before I needed to use the establishment's ammentities, which turned out to be in an alley out the back door. There were a whole lot of people standing around in the alley, and not being able to speak Italian, I just pointed at the toilet door and said 'si', 'no' and 'banyero' a few times (yes, no and toilet in Spanish - I assumed the translation would be similar).
After some gesticulating and a bit of pointing I concluded that they were not waiting in a cue, so I walked over a opened the door, unfortunately surprising some random Italian guy mid-wipe. With much mutual embarrassment I slammed the door shut, only to get his jacket (which was hanging on the door knob) jammed in the door. Much to the dismay of all concerned I then had to re-open the door, unhook the jacket and close the door again (repeating this series of actions several times before success was finally to be had). I then skulked quickly back to the bar. Several questions arose in my mind such as
- why did the people outside the door not try tell me there was someone inside?
- why on earth did the guy using the banyero not lock the door or otherwise indicate that it was occupied?
Thankfully, quickly enough it was evening and we had another 60 min bus ride to the nearest regional airport to look forward to. This progressed smoothly although for some reason I was not feeling that flash once we arrived at the terminal. Purchased some cheap bottles of duty free Italian wine, then headed on through to get on the plane.
When we went to cue up, we were standing next to a rather weird guy who, from the brief look I got at his passport was either from Israel or some Arabic country. He was disconcertingly nervous and kept trying to board the plane before they were ready - trying to push past the kids they were loading first etc. I was relieved that when we got on the plane he sat quite far from us.
Hoever, he then decided to change seats and sit directly in front of us. His fidgiting did much to further unnerve everyone around him including Korina and myself. He refused to put his briefcase in the overhead locker and kept playing with it, as well as throwing himself back into the seat and generally being weird.
We were not sure what to do, and whether to report him to the air hostess - but then the plane started up and took off, and we had to put up with his antics for the next hour until he settled down. I kept telling Korina he was probably just a nervous flyer (as she is), but the truth of it is that he gave me the creeps - I didn't tell Korina this though. I remember thinking if started towards the front I would have to try do something, perhaps utilising some of my recently re-acquired rugby tackling skills!
But as it turns out, he settled down and the remainder of the flight progressed uneventfully.
We then landed and went through customs. Although 90% of the people were UK passport holders, I still got though before Korina as they made all the dirty foreigners wait until the British had passed through and safely made it to the baggage claim area.
The next mission was to get back to Leeds. We started off before quickly discovering we were almost out of gas - which required us to return to Liverpool. Three gas stations later (one that seemed to have three guys in hoodies mucking around inside) and we actually found one that was open. Then my credit card would not work - apparently because its pin-chip has been damaged (I later found out). Sorted this out with Korina's card and a 1.5 hour drive in the driving rain saw us arrive home at 2am in the morning. Getting up at 7am this morning was hard, but as I was car-pooling with guys from work I managed to switch my brain off for an hour until I got to work. Since then it has been a caffeine fuelled Monday at work.
So overall, a fun weekend, but not without its challenges, adventures and dodgy moments!