One day, we will be able to sleep in, but not today! Today we have things to do and places to go, and it’s not work and it’s not school. Sara and Emma got up early and went running and Mike got on the Peloton and went biking. Then we finished packing and cleaned up the house and got things ready to go. Abby did the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen, Madeline made sure her room was clean, and everyone else did everything else they could think of. Then at 9:30 AM, we were off to the Denver Airport. Of course, Mike had to make use of the time by having the girls stuff envelopes for him for work. They did a TON in the car and when we parked at the airport, he mailed them while the rest of the clan got in line to check the bags. Then it was through security and onto our flight to Atlanta. Fortunately, we were flying Delta and not flying Frontier or, heaven forbid, Allegiant or, never in a million years, Spirit. Our flight took off a bit late, but we zoomed in comfort toward the east coast and our tight connection in Atlanta for our flight to Milan.
At the Atlanta airport, it was all go, go, go to get to our connecting flight to Milan. We landed at the B concourse and had to get to F. We got there, grabbed some snacks, and then got on our flight. It started boarding 10 minutes after we landed in Atlanta. That’s cutting it close! Fortunately, we had good seats in comfort plus, which is what economy used to be before Airlines got super cheap, so we had a bit more leg room.
Saturday March 25, 2023
Friday blurred into Saturday as these trans-Atlantic flights tend to do. Comfort plus is not that much comfort nor that much plus, but it sure beats the cheap seats in the back. Regardless, it was still hard to sleep, unless you are Madeline, then there was lots of sleeping. The food was pretty decent, and they gave us pillows, blankets, and ear plugs, toothbrushes, and eye covers. Overall, it was a good experience, until the Alps. As we were descending over the Alps, the plane started descending rapidly and then it was turbulence city. The purser got on and told the flight attendants to sit down in a very worried voice, which was a bit alarming. Then he said, “brace yourselves” and I thought, “this isn’t good”. Overall, it was like coming over the mountains into Denver, but it leveled out and we landed without too much fanfare.
Passport control wasn’t that bad and then we grabbed our bags and headed to the train station. We missed the first train by seconds, and then the next train got cancelled, so we ended waiting a solid 40 minutes to get on the train to Milano Centrale station. The train ride was pretty crowded and not that great. The first thing we noticed was how much graffiti there was everywhere along the way. There was also this really annoying lady speaking Russian with a loud kid. Definitely not comfort plus.
Milano Centrale was quite the train station. It felt like being in a movie with its grand ceilings, numerous platforms, and trains to everywhere. There was even a train to Frankfurt (made us think of Andrew). We exited the station and Abby was entranced by all the guys riding skateboards (by entranced, I mean that she was instantly embarrassed of her family). We walked a couple of blocks to our hotel and were instantly grateful for our little Hilton home. Every time we come to Europe, we stay in a Hilton hotel the first night, which makes things easier because we can check our bags, and then go explore the city while we are ultimately jetlagged.
So that’s what we did, checked the bags, then headed back to the train station to head out into the city. We bought 24-hour metro passes for 3 zones, and then hopped on the metro for the Duomo. It was a zoo! But we like the zoo, and we eventually made our way through the madness after not having slept much. As we were exiting the station, the Duomo came into view, and it was breathtaking. It was such a large, intricate building that dominates the plaza. It was truly breathtaking. The plaza was full of people and clearly the place to be in Milan on a Saturday. Since we were starving, we headed straight to Luini’s for a panzerotti. We took our fried dough and mozzarella goodness back to the Duomo and ate on the steps overlooking the plaza. One of the things we noticed quickly was how many people in Europe still smoke, especially young people. I guess throat and lung cancer haven’t made their way here yet.
Once we were full of food, we headed into the shopping mall to ogle at the super expensive clothes at Prada, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and so forth. The girls took their turns spinning their heals on the bull’s testicles on the floor so that they could be blessed with good luck and a few thousand dollars to spend at the stores!
From there, we got back on the metro and took the red line over to the church Santa Maria delle Grazie. We got there a little before our tour time, so we exchanged our vouchers for the actual tickets and then headed over to the Sforzeco castle and park where we grabbed our first gelato of the trip. Everyone got chocolate. After our quick detour, we headed back to the church for our tour. The Last Supper Painting was pretty great, and everyone was pretty intrigued by the things we learned about this famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s a miracle that it survived the bombings of World War II and the photos of the destroyed building with the two wall still standing is impressive.
Once done with the tour, we headed back to the hotel and saw a flash mob of 1,000 teenagers riding bicycles down the main street. Mike got a high five. From there, we checked into our room, took showers, and then took a power nap. At 7:00 pm, we headed back out for dinner at a little trattoria called “Alla Cadrega”. It was recommended for its traditional Milanese food, and it did not disappoint. We had meatballs and ricotta stuffed zucchini flowers for appetizers. For our “prima” course, Sara and I got risotto Milanese, while Emma got spaghetti, and Madeline and Abby both got pizzas that were a little bigger than they thought. It was all delicious. For dessert we all shared apple pie and a molten chocolate cake with pistachio ice cream. Divinely fed, we headed back to our hotel for a well-deserved rest.