AdventureNotes #12: Milan

Fashion, festive, fun! Those are the words people use to describe this city. Milan! Milan is not only popular because of its status as the capital of fashion design, it is also popular because of football as the city has 2 famous football clubs, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Honestly, Milan is hardly missed if you are traveling to Europe. Its strategic location makes it a transportation hub between the southern Italy and western Europe. In my first Europe solo travel, I landed in Milan and departed from Milan. My main reason? Cheaper flights!

I had a chance to explore Milan in one day. If you’re not that into fashion nor excited about football, like I am, I think a day is enough to stroll around the city – noting that you’re not going into museums or other attractions. That was what I did.

The same as traveling to other cities, we need to be aware of when we are traveling. I visited Milan during my Easter break. Unfortunately, it was the exact Easter day that I visited the city. Such a shame! Everything was closed! Well, not literally everything, but most places were. Adapting to the situation, what I did was sightseeing.

First, I went to see Sforzesco Castle. Obviously, I couldn’t get in. Fortunately, the view was quite interesting. It is basically a beautiful castle. I also walked around a park called Parco Sempione. There is a landmark at the end of the park called Arco della Pace.

In the park, I had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I saw a wedding! With the bride and the groom, and the bridesmaids and the family. Wow! I know that I won’t or have a very little chance of seeing such thing. A wedding in the park. Cute!

Then, I went to see Milan Cathedral or the Duomo. I have to admit that it is so grand and so beautiful. Located in the middle of an open space, it was just mesmerising. Anyway, I saw another wedding outside the Duomo. Two weddings in a day, it must be a sign, right?

Near the Duomo, there is this shopping arcade called Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II. The place was quiet that day, but I figure that it is very chic and trendy on normal days, with its cool restaurants and cafes and high-end stores.

After struggling to find a place to have lunch – believe me it’s not easy, especially wit the Easter day, my friend and I had some kind of Turkish food for lunch. Then, my friend suggested us to go to Navigli. Navigli is an area near a canal. There are many cafes, restaurants, and indie shops there. I like the environment.

So those are the main places I visited in Milan. However, as I walked or took public transportation to explore the city, I got to pass some other attractions, such as Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting is located and Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. I couldn’t get into those places due to the celebration.

I didn’t visit any stadium in Milan, but if you are planning to, do consider about the weather, the location, and the cost. Doing a stadium tour can be expensive and can take a lot of time. Most stadiums are also located quite far from the city center so you have to allocate time to visit them.

I’d really like to visit Milan again some other time. I’d like to see the city when everything is business as usual. I want to see the fashionable Milan!

Jan 22, 2016

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Adventure Notes #6: Kaiserslautern – Heidelberg – Milan

This AdventureNotes is the second part of my first Eurotrip journey, which is the story of my third day of the whole trip. One day, three cities to visit. When I think about that now, well that’s quite impressive. I travelled across three countries in a day.

Kaiserslautern. Well, the reason why I went to the city was because there was my friend there and I needed a place to sleep. Haha. I was a backpacker back then and budgeting was very important! I needed to save my money (I need to save my money as well now!). The city is very small. I remember that fish is the icon of that city so you can see fish sculpture everywhere. I get to see the student’s life in Kaiserslautern. It was quite different with student’s life in the UK, I guess. As education is totally free in Germany, yes for foreigner too, what international students and students in general need to be concerned about is their living cost. There were Indonesian students who do not have any financial support and have to work to fulfil their needs. How can they manage that? I have no idea. But they work here and there to get enough money to survive.

A night in Kaiserslautern and I had to go early in the morning to Heidelberg. Why Heidelberg, because I wanted to visit another friend of mine. It is funny that when you live far from your hometown you seem to have more friends than ever. Moreover, the relationship between you and the people you leave back home gets better. I don’t know why but that’s what I feel based on my experience. Anyway, I went to Heidelberg from Kaiserslautern by train again. I really love the transportation system in Germany. The train is punctual, the information is provided well, and the physical appearance of the train is very nice. All seem to be modern. The journey from Kaiserslautern to Heidelberg was about 1.5 hours. Not too far and I arrived quite early in Heidelberg.

I met my friend and took the tram to old town area of Heidelberg. Well, I think it is the most beautiful old town area. Seriously – I mean with all the buildings and the paints plus the scenery around. I love it! The old town area in Heidelberg is not too big. I walked across the old town and walked up through the Philosophenweg to see Heidelberg from above. I could see a kind of castle across the Philosophenweg. I didn’t go up there but my friend told me that it is beautiful. Well, hope there’ll be next time! I visited the Heidelberg University library which is gorgeous. Haha. Oh! And the university is the oldest university in Germany. I think it is worth to visit.

I only spent a few hours in Heidelberg and then I had to catch another train to bring me back to Milan. It was a very long journey; 6-7 hours if I am not mistaken. On my way to Milan, I had to transit in Basel. Basel is a city in Swiss. I went out from the station as I had around 45 minutes before my next train. I walked around the station area. What I forgot was that the currency they use in Switzerland is not euro! Most shops will accept euro but you’ll get CHF as the change.

After a very long journey I finally arrived in Milan at around 9 pm and had to go to my hotel for the night. It wasn’t a big, nice hotel but it was okay for me to rest as I had to go very early the next morning for my flight to Rome.

Lessons from the first part of my first Eurotrip:

– Traveling around Europe by train is very nice! Solo travelers – well, small group traveler as well – need to try this! As all of the transportation systems between countries are connected and the information is provided well, it is very safe. You get to see beautiful scenery and cities along your train ride. You also get to see local people’s daily life. Priceless experience!

– Beware when you travel during the Easter – or the seasons in between like during spring or fall – as the weather can be tricky. It’s kind of difficult to decide what clothes to bring and to wear. But bear in mind that you have to prepare for the worst! If you bring too many warm jackets, you can just take it off when it’s too hot; as simple as that.

– Currency, currency. Not all countries in Europe are members of EU. And those who are not have different currency. Yeah, UK has different currency although it is a part of EU. It is not too difficult if you end up in Swiss and only have euros in your pocket. But it will be probably more difficult if you are in some Eastern Europe countries. Check again the facts about the countries that you are going to visit.

– Backpacking is very tiring. You have to be on top of your stamina and use all opportunities to rest. You need your focus and your brain to be always on. You need your body to be fit because you have to carry that heavy backpack and to walk long distance. However it is a very great experience! I’d love to go backpacking again!

– It’s great to have friends everywhere so you can go and visit them. You can have free accommodation and meal. Haha! They’ll be glad to see you and you’ll be happy to see them too.

Jan 01, 2014

Adventure Notes #5: Milan – Munich

This is getting interesting! My first Eurotrip. My fifth journey was during the Easter break. My housemate actually asked me to go with her and her friends but I chose to go by myself. Yes, it was my first Eurotrip and I was alone! I was super excited planning for the trip and actually went for the trip. So here’s my next AdventureNotes.

First thing first; travelling to Europe for Indonesian people is not that easy. Visa stuffs made me dizzy. I sorted out my Schengen visa in Manchester. I applied through Italian embassy as it was my first and last destination. Before applying for the visa, I needed to plan my entire itinerary as I needed the proof for visa documents. At that time, I went from Leeds to Milan and back to Leeds. The trip was 8 days long and I planned to go to Germany as well.

Travelling inside Europe was not that expensive. Imagine you can travel from Jakarta to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur easily; it goes the same in Europe. It is even easier because it is a continent so that the transportation is not a problem. Catch a train and you can go somewhere. I went from Leeds to Milan by plane which was cost only around 40 pounds return – the train ticket from Hull to Leeds even more expensive at that time. LOL. In this first part of my Eurotrip AdventureNotes, I will write about the first two days of my trip which was Milan and Munich.

When I say Milan, it was not actually Milan as the plane landed in Bergamo, which was the low cost carrier airport, Milan’s neighbor city. My first impression when I saw Italy was that it is not too different from Jakarta. The landscape, almost the weather, the crowd… almost all reminded me of Jakarta. I arrived at around 6 pm in Bergamo and took an airport bus to Milan Central Station to take a train to Munich. The bus ticket was 5 Euro and it took around an hour to get to the Central Station. Milan’s Central Station was quite good. There were shops and restaurants in the station and the place was convenient. I could look around the shops and eat peacefully. Unlike the station in Rome which was very crowded and uncomfortable, Milan Central Station was generally nice for traveler.

My train to Munich was a sleeper train. It went from Milan at 9 pm and arrived in Munich at 6 am. That was the first time I went somewhere with sleeper train and it was a good first experience. The cabin was quite big, women only – well in my case myself only, with complimentary breakfast. Yeay! The train ride was nice and the steward (I don’t know what they call them if they work in trains) was very helpful. I felt like I arrived in Munich in no time. A little bit cold during the night but it was fine.

The thing when you travel during the Easter time is that the weather can be unstable. When I went from UK, the weather was horrible. There were snowstorms all around UK. I was lucky that my flight wasn’t cancelled. When I arrived in Italy, the weather was pleasant. It was not too cold and not too hot. It was around 15-18 degree Celsius, I guess. And when I arrived in Munich it was -6 degree Celsius. Oh no! I was lucky that I still put my winter clothes on.

As my train arrived quite early in Munich, I kind of had nowhere to go. I decided to walk slowly to the Altrathaus and Nueuerathaus which is in Marianzplatz (correct me if I’m wrong, I already forgot some of the details). I wanted to see the famous clock there. Unfortunately, at that time the clock which supposed to be moving around during the hour change did not work. I continued strolling around the area, walked pass the farmers market, saw the sausage shops – yes the Germans are famous for their wurst, and ended up in a coffee shop. It was very cold outside and being able to sit down and feel the warmth of a cup of hot chocolate was very nice. I was there until I felt like it was okay to go out and went to another destination. I wanted to go to this place which was used to be a palace. The place is called Munich Residenz. It costs around 8 Euro to go inside the place. Munich Residenz is huge. I went to all of the rooms and saw beautiful decorations and architecture. It took around an hour up to two hours to look around the place.

After that, I just went around Munich old town. I didn’t have time to explore more places as I had a train to catch to go to Kaiserslautern – a city in German near France border. I regret that I didn’t go to Allianz Arena. I don’t know why but I always have this thing with German football. Haha. That’s why I really want to go to Allianz Arena. The place is a little bit out of Munich so we have to take the S-Bahn to get there. There are so many interesting places in Munich and I think a day or two days more in Munich will be good.

Anyway, at 2 pm I had to take another train to Kaiserslautern – my friend’s place. It took 5 hours train ride from Munich to Kaiserslautern. I had to change the train 3 times but they weren’t confusing at all. I got all the information from my ticket. I got the platform number and the exact time of the train. It was very pleasant – except when one of my trains was delayed for 3 minutes and I had to run to catch my other train which was only 5 minutes apart. What an experience! The journey from Munich to Kaiserslautern was beautiful. It was very nice to see the scenery along the journey. I saw many small cities and one of them is called Frankenstein. I wonder if Frankenstein really comes from that small city.

Well, that’s about it, I guess. I have 6 more days to write about as parts of my first Eurotrip. It was a great trip and travel experience. I really recommend people to go and travel alone because it is fun! So much fun!

Jan 1, 2014