I apologize for the delay in completing this blog. I have been getting back in the swing of things and getting ready for my summer classes to start and neglected to do this. So here we go, finally!
On Sunday, May 31, we ate breakfast in the hotel in Genoa and took a taxi to the train station. We got there a bit earlier than we had expected and there was an earlier train that would get us to Milan an hour earlier than we had planned. The cost for a ticket was the same as the train we had originally planned to take so we thought the early train was a great idea. Not so much, it turned out. With about half an hour or less left in our just under two hour journey, the train came to a stop. An announcement was made but only in Italian and the only thing I could pick out was "one hour." That didn't sound good. We were in a train with compartments for six again and there were four of us in our compartment. One of the guys in the compartment was very upset by whatever was happening and pretty much yelled at the conductor when he came by. Eventually, we asked the other guy in our compartment if he spoke English and he was able to tell us that the engine had broken down and it would take an hour for another one to get there. It actually ended up being a total of about two hours before we had a new engine and were on our way. So we ended up getting to Milan later than if we had just taken the train we had originally planned to take. Oh well, what are you going to do? At least we weren't in a hurry. It just cut down the amount of time we had in Milan as this was our only day there.
Our hotel was just a short walk from the train station and we were able to check in right away. The room was more like what you would expect in an American hotel in terms of the size of the room and the bathroom.
We had a three-hour walking tour scheduled for 2:30 so we had a short time to do some sightseeing on our own. The tour company's website said that on Sundays they don't go inside the Duomo (Cathedral) so we decided to go there before the tour. We took the subway from our hotel and came out in the square in front of the Duomo. It is huge! We didn't think it was beautiful in the way some other churches we saw were, but it is definitely impressive.
Surprisingly, the tour did go inside the Duomo. I wish we had known that or we would have done something else before the tour. Let me tell you a little about this tour. It is really just an attempt to justify charging you about seven times the cost of the ticket to Da Vinci's "The Last Supper", which you see at the end of the tour. The face value on the ticket is about $10 and the tour is about $70. However, it is nearly impossible for an individual to get a ticket as the tour companies buy them all and essentially scalp them. So if you want to see "The Last Supper", which we did, this is potentially your only choice.
Anyway, after touring the Cathedral, you really spend about two hours walking a lot and seeing very little. Here are a couple of things you see along the way.
Eventually you get to where you can see "The Last Supper." And I must say, it was amazing. I was really prepared to not be too impressed but I was. It was much bigger than I expected it to be. You spend about 15 minutes in the room and they usher you out as soon as that time is up. No pictures are allowed, and they were very clear about that from the beginning. So no accidental pictures like I had of the Shroud. Our guide did a really good job of explaining what we were seeing and it was really interesting. I am not sure it was worth $70, but we definitely didn't regret being able to see it, either.
At the beginning of our tour, the guide said that if anyone wanted to skip the walking tour and just meet the group at the church at the appropriate time for "The Last Supper", they could do that. If any of you end up doing this tour some day, I would definitely recommend doing that. Then you can take a couple of hours to see what you want to see rather than just wandering around seeing essentially nothing. There is a museum about Da Vinci's engineering designs that I would have liked to see, or to go inside the La Scala opera house.
By the time the tour was over we were tired and needed to pack up for our flight home the next day. So we went right back to the hotel. At the metro station we bought our tickets for the Malpensa Express train to the airport for the next day. Patti was not really hungry so I just went to the McDonald's around the corner from our hotel to get something to eat and stopped at a gelato place for my last gelato in Italy.
The next morning we got up, took the train to the airport and headed home. Our flights were on-time and uneventful. My parents met us at the airport in Milwaukee and drove us home. And so ended our 2015 European adventure. We had a great time and had very few mishaps along the way. Thanks for following us and we hope you enjoyed reading what we were doing each day.
Now, where should I go next...