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the train diaries: oh milan...

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Only 3 days after I landed back in the UK my holiday already feels like it was just a dream. But in a good way. In I get to wake up and remember that it actually happened kind of way. And even better I get to share that with you. So here it is the first of my train diaries, today Milan...

I arrived in Milan in the dark, after an hours coach drive from the airport (note Ryanair: Bergamo is NOT Milan) and after a long day travelling, I was a little overwhelmed. So far I'd made it in one piece, but driving through Milan on the coach, it dawned on me I was in a strange city and couldn't speak a word of Italian. The coach dropped me off at the main station and I had no idea where to go from there, so I jumped in a taxi, pointed at the address and hoped for the best.

And then I arrived at my hostel. And I knew everything would be ok.

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"Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise'


- Shakespeare



I can't rave about this ADORABLE hostel enough. Gogol'Ostello is about a 45 minute walk out of central Milan, but that hardly matters. Afterall there is a main street of bars and restaurants on your doorstep anyway, and, the walk through the park into the city, is one I would recommend taking, regardless of where you are staying. The hostel itself was decorated more like a boutique hotel, white walls adorned with Shakespeare quotes and african proverbs. Books covering shelves, and old tv sets with 'Read Instead' painted across their screens. The dorms are all en suite and starting my day with a freshly delivered croissant from a local bakers and a coffee, was absolute bliss.  If you want to do things on the cheap, but still have a little bit of luxury, like I did, I would definitely try here!

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^ This was the entrance to the park ^


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When I woke up on Sunday morning, it suddenly dawned on me just how little planning I had done for this trip. Not only was I struggling to remember how to say thank you (for my croissant) but I had basically no idea what was in Milan. So, I grabbed a map, which had recomendations from the local people on and set off through the beautiful park Simplon Park, towards central Milan and the Duomo...

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It really is absolutely stunning, and well worth throwing yourself into the crowds to see! Of course the que to get in on the Sunday was huge, but come Monday evening you could wander in and out as you pleased.

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Down town Milan has this feeling I can only describe as feeling like the city is clambering on top of itself. One moment you'll be on a busy shopping street, which could be anywhere in the world, the next you'll be admiring the ruins of an old church, or sat in a plaza listening to locals play their guitars. My first day in Milan was spent doing what the locals call 'fare le vasche' which literally means, walk the swimming pools, but metaphorically, means to just walk around without purpose and go with the flow. To be honest that is what I did for my entire holiday...

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On  my second day, I tried to go to one or two tourist attractions both were closed. Walking away from the central plaza I realised that nearly every city in the world can be divided into the same labels. The designer part, the hipster part, the tourist part. It was funny to walk around and think to myself 'oh this is like...' But certain things in Milan were undoubtedly Italian. Men in suits finishing work and treating themselves to an ice cream instead of a beer.  And happy hour...

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In Milan happy hour lasts longer than an hour, and while the drink prices actually go up slightly they bring you free food.

Of the four places I went to, I think Milan is the place I will look back on Fondly. When I had imagined my European adventure, I imagined it to look a lot like Milan. Me and my notebook, surrounded by crowds of people, and something to see and eat on every corner, and now that I am back, it is the place I am most nostalgic for. I specifically remember this giddy feeling I had when I first headed off on Sunday morning, this 'yes I'm doing this' feeling.

I dragged my suitcase through the city on the Tuesday morning and I imagined coming back, taking things at a slower place. A whole afternoon exploring the park, china town, and making it into the tourist attractions that were closed when I tried to get in, maybe even brave the tram system. Maybe with company, maybe not. Mid week, slightly warmer. That is how I would do Milan again.

Oh and next time I would avoid the guys selling 'lucky' bits of string like the plague!

Live life & eat gelato in Milan x

17 comments

  1. Lovely post! Your pictures are beautiful <3

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  2. Thank you Arielle! This is barely the tip of the iceberg of the photo's I took! xx

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  3. Great photos. I LOVED the Duomo in Milan. It actually took my breath away.
    I blogged about my time in Milan. Maybe it will give you some ideas for the next time you go :)
    http://classiccosmopolite.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/a-stopover-in-milan/

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  4. I must have taken hundreds of photos of the Duomo, all at different angles, at all times of the day! Never got boring!

    Thanks, I will have a look (while my bank account silently screams at the thought of going on holiday again any time soon) x

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  5. So nice and inspirational. Loved the idea of ‘fare le vasche’ too. All in all was traveling alone what you wanted it to be?

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  6. Yes I think it was. I'm not entirely sure what I wanted it to be, other than to prove that I could do it. I am still processing so much of it, and still deciding whether or not I want to do it again. It was a really peaceful, gathered time, but if I wanted to be negative I wish I'd experienced more, and met more people. If I wanted to be positive, after 3 years I need some time to myself to work everything out, and I definitely got that.

    Have you ever travelled alone? x

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  7. I've semi-traveled alone with work-related trips but never when I planned on my own and experienced on my own. That'll be my Portugal trip next year though so I'm really looking forward to it :) it's good to see it from someone else's shoes before I go.

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  8. I so want to go to Milan now! It seems like a great city. I love going to a city without a plan, it is when the best adventures happen! xx

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  9. That is the one problem with cheaper airlines - they do tend to dump you down in the middle of nowhere!

    I've not been to Milan so this was a great read.

    Your hotel sounds absolutely perfect ... what a find! I'll have to make a note for if I ever get myself to Milan.

    Chloe x
    newgirlintoon.co.uk

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  10. Looks gorgeous! Italy is definitely a place I want to go to one day, if only to taste the ice cream!

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  11. Oh definitely do, and I think they even do private double rooms! I'm already working out how to convince a group of friends to return next year!

    And as much as Bergamo wasn't Milan, it was only a 45 minute coach ride, and the buses left right outside the airport for 5 euros! Worth it for the much cheaper plane ticket xx

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  12. I think you're totally right, if you know you are going somewhere packed to the rafters with stuff to do, why not just turn up! I think it was just the trip as a whole I maybe could have done with researching a little more! And thank you, I spent a lot of time with my camera, something I always wish I had more chance to do! xx

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  13. I would definitely reccomend travelling alone if you even have the SMALLEST inkling that you want to! And I will definitely be doing it again, and the things I've learnt about planning a trip and about myself, will definitely make next time even better. Glad I can help, and if you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me xx

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  14. Honestly Cecilia, I never knew a Banana Split could be SO good! All praise Gelato! xx

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  15. I really enjoyed visiting a few places in Italy when we went in 2011. We didn't visit Milan so this is definitely somewhere to go back and see. Sometimes, you just don't need plans and walking about is the most fun :)

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  16. I definitely want to go back to Italy, I have a friend who lived in Italy for many years and she always says, that there isn't one Italy, but many different parts.

    As long as they all involve pasta/pizza/gelato I am happy to see them all x

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