The train took about two hours from Verona to Milan and it was ridiculously hot (no air con – just windows wide open) so we were relieved to jump off and walk into our air conditioned, 4 star room at the Hilton Hotel, just a four minute walk from the train station. Thank you Natalie’s Mum and Dad!! Our main priority that afternoon was to find an Apple Store as we had been having problems with our Macbook since Prague. So after a quick and tasty lunch at the train station from an Asian restaurant and takeaway called W.O.K, we caught the metro to a shop the hotel receptionist recommended. The guy was really friendly and helped us begin to restore the laptop back to factory settings. All we had to do was wait until we had a traditional internet connection in a hotel or hostel so we could reinstall OS X. Sorry if that doesn’t mean anything to non-techy people, but when you’re travelling and writing a blog, you rely on your laptop and Internet connection to keep in touch with friends and family. That evening we researched some cheap restaurants nearby on TripAdvisor and found one that looked nice, but unfortunately we can’t remember the name to tell you! On the way back to our hotel we saw a posh looking gelato shop which we had to go inside. The ice creams were a really good price considering the quality, and you were even told which chef had made which flavour. After a skype to Natalie’s family we decided to make the most of the free (albeit small) gym in the hotel and had a late night workout before climbing into the ridiculously comfy king size bed.
Waking up to a buffet breakfast feast was a great start to our second day in Milan. And after a morning workout we headed into town to find the Milan Cathedral. It was stunning. Very pale whites and creams and so detailed.
There is a big square in front of it where a lot of Italians try to sell you their homemade bracelets and bird feed so all the pigeons scramble around you. One guy put some bird feed into Jordan’s hands and pigeons came flying onto him to eat the food. We had a wander around the area, through a small but pricey shopping centre with brands like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton, and then found a nice restaurant for lunch called Granaio which did really healthy savoury food as well as really indulgent treats. As we were still trying to keep our beach bodies for as long as possible we both just had a main meal. Natalie had grilled chicken with roasted potatoes and veg and Jordan had a sandwich with a side of the roasted veg. After lunch we had thought about doing the city bus tour around Milan. There are three or four different routes to choose from that cover pretty much the entire city’s main tourist sites. You just pay one price and then you can get on and off wherever and whenever you want. By the time we’d had a late lunch it was about 3pm and the bus tours finished at 6pm so there wasn’t any point in paying full price to go on the tour for a few hours. And we had paid for a 24 hour metro ticket so we just hopped back on the underground and went to Milan Sforza Castle.
The castle has a big water fountain in front of it which people were using to cool off from the scorching sun. It was nice to cool your feet down after walking around in the heat. We chilled out there for a bit and then walked past the fountain into the castle grounds. You can go into the grounds for free but we saw that there was an ancient Egyptian exhibition on in the Sforza Castle Museums so we bought tickets to enter. They were about £5 each and meant you could see all of the castle’s exhibitions so we thought it was good value. We didn’t have time to do all of them so we stuck with the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of Ancient Art and Picture Gallery which included a restoration of Leonardo da Vinci’s original artwork in one of the rooms.
The artist had painted the room with a vision of the ceiling being covered in trees as if it were a forest, and the walls with grand gold pillars – it’s almost an image of a garden inside a room. The work has partly been restored so we could see a few pieces of his original artwork but the work continues. If you spend a few days in Milan, we would definitely recommend going to the Sforza Castle and Museums as there is lots to see there and that way you are experiencing some of Milan’s history and culture, instead of just wandering round the expensive shopping centres, unable to buy anything. After the castle tour we headed back to our hotel (did we mention is was 4 star!?) and then went for an unusual but rather good all you can eat meal at 688 restaurant. It was a mixture of Asian, Italian and Brazilian – very strange but there was something for everyone and the food was pretty good. It was €16 per person all you can eat and included some drinks such a water so it was actually pretty good value for money too. Especially for Italy! After letting our food go down we had another late night workout and then got packing ready to leave our luxurious room and move on to Florence the next day.