Today we bid adieu to Suisse and headed south to Italy. Our bus drivers were an Italian couple who were just fantastic. The landscape changed very quickly once we crossed the border. We went from breathtaking mountain vistas to the flat farm land of northern Italy. In about three hours we arrived in Milano.
A last photo in Suisse as we begin our bus trip
Our hotel is on the severe north side of the city. If you have ever looked at a map of Milano you will see that the entire city is built in concentric circles emanating from the city center or centro. We quickly checked into our hotel and met our guide David. David is a school teacher who moonlights as a guide for English speakers like ourselves. David is also one stand up guy who took charge of getting us settled into the hotel, suggesting dining places, and a plethora of useful info on Milano. David was friendly and entertaining and immensely patient with a group of girls who don't always pay great attention and aren't the most punctual. (we still love you ladies)
Since we arrived a bit late we had to rush the tour a bit. Instead of 4 hours we toured for just over 3. David explained that Milano is a very unusual city compared to the rest of Italy and he was very correct. Milano is a strange combination of extremely old and ultra modern. Think what Manhattan would look like if it was built in the Renaissance. Plus add that the Allies bombed Milano significantly in WWII and you have a city with buildings built 400 plus years ago sharing the block with modern 7 star hotels. (not where we are staying sadly)
We were able to see Castle of Milano, Castle Park, Milano's DaVinci statue, Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, Teatro alla Scala (Scala Opera house, the Mecca of Opera), Stazione Centrale, and the Duomo Cathedral (the outside). David showed us some great places to shop and then we parted ways.
We then ate some gelato, had dinner, ate some more gelato, exchanged some currency, ate some more gelato, bought phone cards, and then grabbed cabs back to the hotel. Mrs. Reinhardt said that her taxi driver was the epitome of molto Italiano (very Italian). He drove fast, flirted with the ladies, and wore flashy clothes. Mr. Ort's cabbie was a nice old guy who listened to Italian punk. Strange.
The mountain roads up to the ski resort or SO SMALL that it doesn't seem like there is room for ONE bus, let alone the cars that zoom pass at lightening speed. Although the bus driver had very little English, when Ms. Reinhardt mentioned "crazy drivers" to his wife, they both laughed and agreed!
The scene rapidly changed from ALL snow to very little. The "ski slopes" we encountered on the road to Milan seemed a bit like a joke after our experience at Les Croset. Little towns are nestled in the valleys of the mountains all along the road from Switerland to Milan.
Our first stop at the Castle.
Look at us being good students!!! (except Mr. Ort & Ms. Reinhardt!)
There we are! Pretty little next to the BIG castle!
The girls as listening the history of the courtyard.
The courtyard inside the castle (just a bit of it!)
It's hard to focus when there is a photo!
So this is completely unrelated to castle history, but Ms. Reinhardt and the girls couldn't help but "admire" this interesting outfit. Milan IS one of the fashion capitals of the world, but does a leopard print bra with a g-string leotard count as fashion????? We weren't sure!
As we glanced into what used to be the moat, we couldn't help but find the humor in the VERY scary kitty cats that relaxed there!
At the end of our tour of the castle, we posed for a photo with our tour guide, David.
Group photo in front of the Milan city offices.
Ms. Reinhardt & Mr. Ort in front of the Leonardo statue near the cathedral.
The girls asked David how to ask Italians if they could take their picture. This was the result of that wisdom...a picture with the police! ;)
Mr. Ort bet the girls that if they could catch a pidgeon he would pay them 5 eruos. This adventure led to the popcorn men!...
We hadn't warned the girls not to take anything from vendors. Although we later had a serious discussion, this incident turned out well. Two men offered the girls popcorn and helped them "call the birds."
wait for it.....
wait for it...
Ana's lovin' the birds!
Yvonne & Ximena join in...
and the rest of us kept our hands clean!!!!
Tradition says you must grind your heal in a circle three times on the bulls man parts for good luck.
Yvonne loves her parents a lot, a lot, a lot! She also has goggle face!
Daniella promises that she will buy a phone card tomorrow (Monday). They were out today.
Mamma Maria's eye is hurting! It's feeling better though.
Ana Litchle loved the cathedral in Milan and is excited to tour inside.
Ana Guerrero loves gelato and is ready for bed.
Ximena is exhausted because of all her bird chasing.
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