So last week, in my last post I spoke about some aspects of moving to Milan, something I had the great, erm, pleasure of doing for the entirety of 2013. I couldn’t fit everything I wanted to say in it (and I obviously forgot a ton of things), so here it is… Part two!!
If you know me even slightly in real life, or if you look at my posts on Instagram, you know that fitness is a big part of my life. What started as a half hearted attempt to get rid of all the well-meaning ‘chubby and cute’ comments, has now turned into mad levels of obsession. Staying fit in Milan isn’t hard. In spite of all the gelato and cheese, I stayed pretty much in shape (except the last 6 weeks when I gained a ton of stress-weight. Thank you, thesis). Just run. Get up in the morning, and go. I used to run by the Naviglio Grande most days because I lived right next to it, but I ran to the Duomo several times, ran to Parco Ravizza and back, and on some days that I was really enthusiastic, I ran around Parco Baden-Powell and then did yoga 😀 Oh, but I must warn you, girls, that unwanted attention is at MAX levels. It will only be a slight exaggeration if I say I had to hear catcalls every day. (Which actually brings me to a major pet peeve of mine… If an Italian shouts ‘Ciao, bella’ when you’re passing by, it’s Oh-So-Charming-These-Italians-Are-So-Romantic, but if an Indian dares to say ‘Hallo, beautiful’, it’s creepy??? But that’s a rant for another time. Go to my Dobler-Dahmer post for slightly related reading.)
The gym I joined was not such a great idea. 90 Euros for 9 months seemed like such a great deal that I paid upfront and then felt guilty all year for not going. (People walk around naked in Italian changing rooms!! And they want to have conversations!!! That’s one of the reasons I stopped going. Scandaleyesed!!)
Aperitivo: For some genius reason, I forgot to talk about Aperitivo last week. This concept started in Milan and can be seen in almost all Italian cities. I’ve seen it in Torino, but not in Rome. Anyway, so what happens is, you go to a bar around 6-7pm, pay for a drink, and with that you have free reign over the buffet that they set up specifically for this purpose till about 9pm. It’s a great way to get a cheap dinner for just the cost of a drink (though the drinks do cost more at this time, and they all cost the same). A more expensive aperitivo doesn’t necessarily mean more food or better food, but a 10 Euro aperitivo will be of higher quality than a 5 Euro one.
The Weather: The temperature goes down to about -2 Celsius in the December-February time, while the maximum temperature (July-August) is about A MILLION DEGREES. Believe me on this! Summers in Milan are insanely hot. The internet will (mis)lead you to believe that ta maximum temperature is around 28-30 degrees Celsius, but I just think they’re making it up to not freak people out.
I didn’t spend much of the summer there, but the few weeks that I did, I had to buy a fan for my room just to be able to survive and not drown in my own sweat in my sleep (oh, yeah, there are no ceiling fans). It snows a little bit from January to March, and rains a fair amount throughout the year.
What to Pack: Milan is a VERY fashion conscious city. Everyone is always perfectly decked up, and people like me end up feeling like rhinoceroses, so, really, don’t expect any fashion advice from me here. But, carry snow boots. You won’t need them often, but when you do, you really will! The snow here is the icy-slushy variety. Very slippery. You’ll need a thick warm jacket/coat, of course, and a wind-cheater. I remember this one day it was so windy, I felt all my chubbiness was going to be whisked away!
Travel from Milan: This blog has probably told you how much I traveled with Milan as my base. Of the 11 months I was there, I spent 3 months in other cities!! Whether I like Milan or not becomes insignificant when it comes to the fact that its location is the very best! Since it is geographically pretty much bang in the centre of Europe, no city is more than a 2 hour flight away. Flights longer than 2 hours on low cost airlines can be painful. Ask me, I know. Thessaloniki, Greece to London, England in 3.5 hours. HashtagDead!
Milan has 3 airports- Linate (which is in the city and you can just go there in a normal city bus), Malpensa (the main airport about 45mins by taxi, and 10-15 Euros by bus or train) and Bergamo (the airport for budget airlines and is about 5 Euros by bus). You can get INCREDIBLE deals on these European low cost airlines. And by incredible I mean one way tickets in 15-20 Euros!! Now you see how I did it?? While most people I knew spent 20-30 Euros on drinks on the weekends (or weekdays), I spent the same amount to catch a flight to another country! I used RyanAir, EasyJet and WizzAir. And if you’ve heard any of those urban legends about RyanAir and having to pay to use the bathroom, rest assured that they are not true! It’s a perfectly normal airlines, with absolutely normal facilities. You can buy food onboard which is just about as reasonable as any other low cost airlines I have been on. You do need to pay extra for almost everything though, including check in luggage, priority boarding, and a rather obscene amount if you forget to print your boarding pass (60 Euros or something), so, be careful!
- EasyJet takes off from Linate, Malpensa and Bergamo. The Malpensa ones make less sense because then you need to add 10 Euros to the cost of the ticket. The best options are obviously the ones that take off from Linate. You just take your luggage (if you only have cabin luggage) and walk straight through to security. The first time I stood in a check-in queue for a long time before I realised I didn’t need to.
- RyanAir takes off from Bergamo. I actually like Ryanair the most because they don’t assign you seat numbers, so more often than not I got myself a window seat even if I got on right in the end. It’s quite funny to watch people queue up in a mad hurry because they want to bag the best seats!! Oh, and here you do need to check in first.
- WizzAir takes off from Bergamo and Malpensa. I’ve only used it once so I don’t remember if they assign seat numbers or not. I do remember, though, that this airlines has two different sizes for cabin luggage, and one needs to be paid for. I’m pretty sure I exceeded the limit, but managed to sneak through 😉 .
- Trains and Buses:
You’d think these would be cheaper modes of transport, but just take a look at a Milan to, say, Rome train and you will know that they’re not. Possibly my least favourite modes of transport, I only used trains a couple of times, and went on a long(ish) distance bus once. If you think an overnight train is going to save you accommodation costs, let me be the one to tell you, my friend, that overnight trains are plenty expensive.
- Carpooling: Read my post about carpooling and you’ll know I’m a fan. I just used it once within Italy, and once more when I was going from Milan to Munich (though I used it several times in other countries). I didn’t travel much within Italy (ready why here), but I’ve spent enough time on the carpooling websites looking at rides and daydreaming about my next vacation to know that you can pretty much go anywhere you want on any day you want, for a fraction of the cost you’d pay on the train.
- Hitchhiking: Ummm… Well, since I’m writing this from the perspective of a solo female traveler, I don’t think I’d recommend hitchhiking in Italy.
Aaand I think that is just about all. I studied Design in Domus Academy, and if you want to know anything about the college or the course, let me know. I’m not including it in here already because that would be wayyy niche. If you have any more questions (where to find the best gelato? My favourite cappuccino? Pizza?), feel free to hit me up and just ASK!