Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ciao from Milano!

We spent most of January laying low in Izmir because we knew that February would be busy and exhausting. Sure enough, that's proved true, but it's been an incredible first few days. On Thursday, we woke up early and boarded a plane to Milan. We were both excited to get back to the land of pasta and interested to see the differences between the north and south of Italy.

We flew into the Milan airport and got there early afternoon. At this point, we know the flying routine well. The goal is to get off the plane as quickly as possible so you can be in the front of the customs line. Getting stuck in the back can add a lot of time to the whole process. This time we were first in line! Traveling with an American passport usually means a quick customs process with little to no questions. This time, though, was completely different. We were asked how many days we were staying, if we had a flight back and if we could show proof of our AirBnB reservations. Neither of us have ever experienced any sort of questioning, so this was a whole new experience for us. Luckily, Mike could access the AirBnB reservations and that seemed to suffice. Once we made it through, we grabbed our bags and headed towards the bus that would take us to the metro. As we were walking out of the airport, two police officers stopped us (only us) and asked us if we had any cigarettes or guns on us. They also wanted to know if we had any euros on us and when we told them the amount, they were pleased to know it wasn't more than 10,000 euros. I guess we looked suspicious with our backpacks and suitcase because I've never experienced any sort of customs experience like that!

After all of that, we were glad to get on the bus and head into the city. It's pretty easy to get from the airport into the city. There are tons of bus companies there waiting to take you. We had reserved our tickets ahead of time, which made it easy. The bus drops you off at the metro station and the metro is extremely easy to use. Our AirBnB was a block from the Duomo, which let. me. Tell. You. That is one incredible church. When we walked out of the metro station, we looked to the left and there it was in all of it's glory. It's massive in size and breathtaking in beauty.

oh hey Duomo!

We were a little early for our AirBnB, so we stopped at one of the cafes across the street from the Duomo and grabbed a glass of wine and apertivo. Two things. One, my only qualm with AirBnB is the initial meeting with the owner. When we are traveling in another country, we almost always don't have access to internet, unless we can find free wifi. This means you have to coordinate ahead of time with the owner to let them know what time you will be arriving. If you end up being late or early, there's really no way to let them know. We were about an hour early and would have liked to drop our stuff off, but really had no way to do so. End rant. It's really not that big of a deal. Two. The apertivo scene in Milan is fierce and I love it. It's like classy happy hour. You get all sorts of yummy bread, meat and cheese to accompany your wine and it's truly a wonderful thing. Add in the scene of the Duomo and I'm contemplating never leaving.

Anyways, after a glass of wine and lots of apertivos, it was time to meet our AirBnB host. We love AirBnB because you can usually find a nice apartment that is equal in price or cheaper than the hotels in the same area. This time was no different and we ended up finding this apartment for about a third of the price of the nearby hotels. The apartment was super small, but we really only needed it for the bed and the bathroom, so it worked. It was also in a great location because it was only a block from the Duomo, which has it's own metro stop. Overall, a great location and apartment.

We dropped our stuff of and went back out to do a little sight seeing. We took in more of the Duomo from the outside, but also went inside to see the inner beauty and it didn't disappoint.

We lit a candle for Memom and I could feel her smiling down. It made it that much more special to know my Italian grandmother was there with me.

I know I'm a little biased being Italian and Catholic, but the Duomo is beautiful. Absolutely stunning. Some might say the Tyra Banks of churches.

By this point, it was time for dinner. Mike and I usually try to go to restaurants that are recommended, either from travel books, blogs or TripAdvisor. This time, though, we just decided to wander freely and see what we could find. This meant wandering for a while. When you have a million options and they all look good, it's really hard to decide and you end up wandering for a while. We finally settled on a restaurant called Cafe Della Opera and it didn't disappoint. Mike got pasta and I got pizza and we were both extremely satisfied.

We couldn't end our first day in Italy without some gelato and, once again, let. me. Tell. You. This gelato was something incredible. I'm not a huge chocolate ice cream fan (I prefer my chocolate in the form of reese's or hershey's), but this combination of vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter took ice cream to a whole new level.

It was definitely a successful first day in Italy, filled with wine, good food, and beautiful views.

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