We woke up early (5:00am) to catch our flight from Minneapolis to JFK in NYC. However at the last minute, we got a phone call from Delta saying our flight was delayed 3 hours. In a panic that we were losing precious vacation time, we tried to find an alternate flight. Success! We found we could reroute and go to Amsterdam and then Milan instead of NYC then Milan.
After waiting the 2 hours for that flight, we were informed that one was now delayed as well. Tired and already frustrated, we trudged ourselves over to the international gates and waited there for a couple hours. The only nice part about that was that they have iPads for guests to use at every seat, which was great for reading the news, doing crosswords, browsing maps of future travels, etc.
Finally our plane boarded and we were off! It was only a 7.5 hour flight to Amsterdam from Minneapolis, we had the wind on our side. And once we landed in Amsterdam, I was very tired and already sick of traveling. It was now 8:00am their time. But the show must go on! One perk of the Amsterdam airport, they had a Starbucks – go team!!!
The flight from Amsterdam to Milan was only 1.5 hours and went by really quick. Before you knew it, we had landed in Milan! Now to grab our luggage and get out of there.
We stood by the baggage claim for a good half hour as everyone else grabbed their bags. To our dismay, our bags never did come. So, what had already been an extremely long journey had become even longer. We had to attempt to file a claim on our luggage (in Italian) and try to figure out what the heck we were going to do without any of our stuff! I had absolutely nothing in my carry-on except my laptop, some Excederin and my earbuds… and everyone else was basically the same. Not even a hairbrush or toothbrush or anything!
We got back to the hotel, luggage-less, and weren’t quite sure what to do. We could’ve all used a long, hot shower after a full day of travel, but we had nothing to change into or even use to shower. My walking shoes were in my luggage, all I had for shoes were the slip-ons that I’d worn on the plane and by that time they were giving me blisters. The trip was not starting off very well! That was for sure.
We decided to browse the shops around our hotel in search of new clothing that could get us through the next day of travel. We also stopped into the pharmacy and picked up some face wash and lotion (Vichy brand! We were lucky) to get us by. This went a long way just to have the comfort of clean skin!
That night we also grabbed dinner at a local Pizzeria. It was divine! I got the prosciutto which is like Canadian bacon (or ham). A basic cheese pizza is margherita, and those are very good too. There’s nothing quite like an Italian pizza, the crust is thin but crisp and tasty. It was a great first meal!
Once back at the hotel, I laid down for a second and I was out for the night. It was only 4:00pm here, although technically 9:00am at home and I was exhausted. We slept 18 hours that night, although not on purpose! Our hotel room had no windows, it turns out, so the daylight we were waiting for never actually came. But that was alright, because I think we needed the extra sleep!
We eventually woke up at 11:00am but still did not feel all that well-rested. We checked the front desk in hopes of having received our luggage overnight but no avail. Day 2 would consist of a shower, but no make-up, no hair product, and no clean clothes. It was a gross feeling truly, because those same clothes had been already slept in twice (once on the plane, once at the hotel) and all I had found at the shops the night before was a new shirt for 9,95 euro. It would have to do!
I think one of the worst parts of losing the luggage was not having deodorant. This was awful! Especially after we climbed 500 stairs to get to the top of the Milan Cathedral or Duomo di Milano. The church itself was absolutely stunning, inside and out. It costs 2,00 euro for a wristband to take photos, but I think it was worth it. You can even climb onto the top and look over the whole city which was beautiful to see, you can even see the Alps in the background if you look close.
While in Duomo we also attempted to see Da Vinci’s paintings of the Last Supper or Cenacolo Vinciano. This is located at Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie 2. It took us a while to get there because the maps are much different than what we’re used to! The roads are not marked, instead the buildings are. You’ll notice on the corners of the building, wording such as “Via Albricci” or “Via Terraggio”, which are your street names. It takes some getting used to, but eventually you figure out where you’re going!
We also purchased a 48 hour subway pass (for the Metro) for about 9,00 euro. With this, we can ride the Metro as much as we want for the next two days and not have to pay again. Otherwise, one way it is 1,50 euro and once you get off, you’ll have to pay again to get back on and go anywhere. I’d strongly recommend the Metro pass as it is very fast and very easy to use. Each time you get to the Metro station, you insert your ticket, it unlocks the gate for you, and then it gives you back your ticket and you’re in!
When finding your way along the Metro, you want to search for your end destination, not where you are going, as you won’t find it. Your stop will just be one along the way to the final destination and that’s what you’ll need to know.
So much to learn isn’t it!?
While we were still in Duomo, we decided to shop the la Rinascente (large luxury shopping center). It is story upon story of high-end shopping. Here you’ll find designers like Jimmy Choo, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Mac, La Mer, Louis Vuitton (which everyone has here!) and soooo many more. I could go on for days. Outside of that mall, you’ll also find many American brands that you probably know and love, like Banana Republic, H&M, Guess, Foot Locker, and more. If you look closely down side streets, there are also a couple outlet options, comparable to like a Marshall’s or TJ Maxx back home. It was here that I found the best deals in that center. They had really cute stuff and for half the prices.
Of course, an adventure out shopping was not complete without some Milano gelato. I went for a chocolatey hazelnut option and it was AMAZING. I could not believe how good it was. It was also surprisingly filling, I could barely finish it!
It was time for the trek home. It was getting dark and cold, and shops were starting to close. We hopped on the Metro and we were home in about 15 minutes. Not bad!
When we returned to our hotel room, the hotel staff had surprised us by placing our newly-found luggage in our room. I could have cried!! I was BEYOND excited to see all of my belongings FINALLY. Words cannot express the gratitude that I had for my luggage. For the rest of the night, we were on cloud 9. We were still missing a bag (my poor mother) but we at least had enough to go around and share with her.
For dinner, we took the recommendation of the hotel concierge, which was to visit Ristorante Sabatini, an upscale pizzeria down the street. The service here was great, and our waiter was very friendly. This was noteworthy, because there have not been very many friendly people that we’ve come in contact with unfortunately. My first time talking to any Italians was at the airport bus station where an Italian man proceeded to yell at me in Italian after I had just told him I didn’t understand Italian. Anyways, the pizzeria was great. I ordered a plate of homemade ravioli with meat sauce. It came very quickly and it was sooo very tasty. What I love about the food here is that it’s not packed with crap (like GMO’s or MSG, etc.) so it just tastes good and it feels good on the body. If that makes sense!?
The water here is all bottled. But you will either receive acqua frizzante/gassata (or sparkling water) or acqua naturale (which is like regular bottled tap water). Typically if you say, no gas, it means no fizz, so regular water. This is good to know! And you’re welcome (prego).
Coming into the trip, I had learned the basic phrases of Italian, as I had about 1.5 weeks to prepare. But what I had learned was very useful! This included:
- Buongiorno (pronounced buon-journo) which is a standard greeting, meaning good day
- Salve (pronounced saul-vay) which is a formal way to say hello (instead of ciao which is informal)
- Dove sono (pronounced du-ve-sono) which means ‘where are…’
- Grazie (gratz-ee-ah) which means thank you. Or Grazie Mille (gratz-ee-ah me-lay) which means many thanks.
- Por favore (per fah-vor-ay) means please
- Questo (kway-sto) translates to ‘this’
- Quello (kway-low) means ‘that’
- Non lo so (nohn-low-so) means I don’t know
- Non capisto (nohn-ka-pee-sto) means I don’t understand
- Scusi (skooz-ee) which means excuse me, or I’m sorry
- Parla inglese (par-la en-glay-say) means ‘Do you speak english?’
Those were the essentials that I came into the trip with. I wish I knew more, but that’s a good start. Although many of the Italians here speak a little English, it’s not as common as I thought it would be. You’re lucky if you catch someone on the street that can communicate back with you for directions. Some act rude and some are friendly, which I suppose is going to be standard for travels anywhere in the world!
Well that is all I have for now. It’s time to grab some rest, I think! I just can’t seem to get enough of it 🙂
P.S. You might have noticed my photos tagged as ‘TravelsofaHousewife.com’. This is my soon-to-be travel section subsidiary of Real Housewives of MN 🙂