Friday, January 08, 1999

Milan, the Fashion Capital

Bern, Switzerland
Woke up around 7:15, checked out at 7:45. Breakfast was bread, hot cocoa, and juice. Basically everyone I talk to says that Milan's a pretty rough place. I'll be on the 0843 train from Bern to Milan, via Thun and Spiez. I'm going to see if I can get a locker and ditch my mugger-target (backpack). I walked a bit when the train came into Bern to make sure that I was in a non-smoking car. I overheard a conversation that was distinctly American, so I went to say hello.

One was 19, in the Army, and stationed in Germany while the other was her 24-year old brother. They were headed for Rome, so we chatted a while. We had to move up a car to stay bound for Milan, and we had a little compartment for the three of us. The seats reclined and it would have been a great naptime if the view wasn't fabulous. There was an island with a fortress in the middle of the lake. Blue skies until we reached Italy.

Milan, Italy
Milan was overcast. I walked and got lost a lot. I hit the downtown region rather thoroughly, the Duomo was amazing. There were random ruins at every turn. I think I saw two dozen churches. I got lost, but it was ok. I had nowhere to be. There was a restaurant that was all over Milan: McDonald's. As much as I wanted Italian food, there were simply no places open and serving. I'm gonna try to catch the 1810 train to Genoa. 



Well, they tried to change tracks on me, but I actually understood the announcement in Italian. I verified with the board and I was right. More on Milan: While I was in the Duomo plaza, I'm pretty sure these guys were giving out birdseed (there were hordes of pigeons) so that they could pick my pocket when the flock came.
See those two guys with plastic bags? Pickpockets.
Duomo

Overall impression of Milan: Lots of people in black, and a surprising number were Asian. I bought an AC Milan jersey at a store that only sold AC Milan (red), Juventus (white), and Milano (blue).

Genoa, Italy
I've been pounding down the miles on foot, and they've started to rebel. I'm guessing five blisters per foot by the time I'm done. I "talked" to some Italians on the way to Genoa. Funny how there is always one bad city/hostel experience each of my trips: Genoa hostel is closed until February 1, 1999. I should point out that the hostel listing said open: "1-2-99" which I interpreted according to the American convention "Jan 2, 1999" rather than European "1 Feb 99" because I though my book was American. I discovered my error after the cab left. I wrote down the names of some places listed on the "We're closed" notice, and thought about crashing outside.

There was a light on in the basement and the door was open. Normally, I'd go check it out, but there was an eight foot fence between me and the door. So I started writing down names of the other places when out walk two people. "Hello, the hostel is closed". Well, um, obviously. I was asked if I wanted to come with them into town (the hostel is at the top of a winding hillside road) and not to be foolish, jumped at the chance. The bus came right then, so we all ran. I have a feeling that I was supposed to have a ticket, but who cared then? The person who helped me was the daughter of the hostel owner. He's in Alaska. Anyways, she pointed me out to a few hotels, and I stayed at the 'mini-hotel'. They have this great gummy candy called Big Fruit. The room is spacious and centrally located.

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