Milan: The Bomb

I woke up in Venice, and walked across the hallway to tell the kids it was time to wake up and go down to have breakfast.


Suddenly, I heard a woman screaming from one of the rooms.   It was like she was in agony, being killed or something.  I wondered if 911 worked in Venice, or if they had some other number for emergencies.  Just as I was about to run for a telephone, she started going, “AHHhhh!  AHHHhhh! Yes!  Yes!  YEEEESSSS!”.


My mistake.


I was sorry we hadn’t booked at least two nights in Venice.  It was so different than anything else we had seen so far.  But, we were coming near the end of our trip, and we had to stay on schedule.


We went down and had another European breakfast.  I had granola, a boiled egg, some thin sliced ham, and a cappuccino.  


An attractive young woman walked in, her hair wet, like she had just gotten out of the shower.  Could she be the screamer?  I would never know.


We finished breakfast, packed up and headed to the front desk to checkout.  I paid the bill and asked the clerk to call a taxi big enough for cinque personas con baggage. 


Before we knew it, we were at the water taxi station, but the driver kept going.  I told him we wanted to go to the water taxi, and he stopped about ¼ of a mile away and said, “Water Taxi”.  I guess they were some kind of private water taxi’s there.  I paid him, and we walked over to the ferry station we arrived from the day before.


Jane went up and purchased the tickets.  The ferry came, and it was packed again.  We squeezed on board and took the long ride back to the Venice train station.


We upgraded to a Eurostar.  When we got on board, a bunch of Americans came into our car.  They had just gotten off a cruise.  We started comparing cruise stories, and it seemed strange to be speaking English with strangers.  I could tell from the way they spoke that they were probably from California.  I asked.  I was right, San Francisco.  I raised my hand and said, “L.A.”.  The man I was speaking with told me that he was active with some Catholic school in La Canada.  I told him that I was the General Service Contractor for events put on by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.   It was just kind of strange to be around a bunch of Americans again.


The ride went pretty fast.  We arrived in Milan, which was a big, unfriendly looking city.  It was raining, and cold when we arrived.  We found the taxi stand and got into a minivan that was big enough to take us all.  We asked the driver to take us to Hotel Baviera.  It actually wasn’t very far, but I was happy to be in a taxi because of the rain.


Hotel Baviera, it turned out, was under construction.  We came in and workmen were all over the place.  After we checked in, the clerk informed us that the lift was being repaired.  We started up a couple of flights of stairs, and as I walked past the elevator, I could see that the cement floor had just been poured.


It was noisy and dirty in the hallway.  Everything was torn apart.  But, the room was reasonably nice.  Everyone seemed to hate the hotel.  I didn’t really mind so much, and after all the hotel unrest, I didn’t want to go find another one.  So, we just made the best of it.


That afternoon, we had reservations to view “The Last Supper”.  This is the famous painting of Jesus and his followers the night before he was crucified.  We asked the hotel clerk to call us a big enough cab, and headed for the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.


I had made reservations with a website, and all I had was a printed email.  I hoped I hadn’t been swindled again.  It had worked like a charm every other time, so we went into the convent and found the ticket office.


A woman was begging to be let in to see the painting, and the clerk was explaining to her that reservations must be made far in advance to view the masterpiece.  When the lady, probably one of the “Da Vinci Code” fanatics circulating in Europe, finally gave up I stepped up and showed my rain soaked email.


She looked at it, printed out five tickets and told us to come back 15 minutes before our tour.


We went across the street and had cappuccino.  Jane and the kids had become addicted to these things called Supresas.  They are not available in the US, but in places like Canada they are called “Kinder Surprise”.  It’s this chocolate egg you buy.  You break open the chocolate and there is a plastic capsule inside that contains a toy.  If they bought one of these things, they must have bought a hundred.  So, we sat and drank coffee and ate these chocolate eggs.


The time came, and we crossed the street and went into the holding area for the tour.  I noticed that each of our five tickets was part of the painting.  I tried to match them up as we waited.


The time arrived, and we were walked past an airlock door into the building that housed The Last Supper.


I had no idea that it was painted directly on the wall of a building.  We went inside and there it was.  I thought about the many times I’ve visited The Hollywood Wax Museum.  They have this life size replica of the painting done with wax figures.  I thought about all the times I looked at this cheesy replica, and now I was standing within a few feet of the real thing.


Before going in, we noticed from a display that the convent had been bombed during World War II, and the only thing that survived was the wall that the Last Supper was painted on.  Christian went over to a guide and asked what country had dropped the bomb.  “The U.S.”, was the answer.  Oh great….


I just kind of walked around the inside of the building and viewed the painting from different angles and distances.  It is about the size of a movie theatre screen.  Quite large.


When it was time to go, we were walked through another airlock.  I didn’t notice Jane and Casey ducking into the gift shop.  Erin and I ended up out on the rainy street, so we went inside the church and looked around.  It was another of many very ornate Catholic churches in Europe.  Lots of life size statues and artwork.  This kind of thing was becoming such a normal part of our daily lives, it was easy to start taking it for granted.


When Jane came out of the gift store, we tired to figure out how we were going to find a cab to take us back to the hotel.  She went back into the ticket office to ask if someone there could call for a taxi.  When she came out, she was very upset.  A man inside, behind the counter had been very rude to her.  He apparently thought she was trying to ask him for tickets to see the painting.  He told her to go to the ticket line.  When she tried to explain that she didn’t want tickets, she just had a question, he yelled at her and became very angry and aggressive.   It still amazes me that the only truly unfriendly people we met on the entire trip worked at religious landmarks.


We saw a taxi pull up.  When the people got out, we asked for a ride.  The driver refused, and said we had too many people.  We asked if he could use his radio to call us a larger cab.  He very rudely refused telling us to walk several blocks to a piazza where they had a taxi stand.


It was pouring rain, and the five of us walked down the streets of Milan, getting soaked, until we found the piazza and the stand.  From there we quickly got a cab and went back to the hotel.


Once again, our timing for lunch was messed up.  We were starving, and everything was closed.  We were still passing the cold around that Christian caught in Hungary.  This day was Casey’s day to feel miserable.  We tried to go into a bar to see if we could buy sandwiches.  Casey inhaled some second hand cigarette smoke, and started to cough really hard.  Then she got upset and began to cry and get hysterical.  Jane had to take her back to the hotel, while I tried to negotiate sandwiches, including one with no meat  with a fairly rude counterperson.


I think that Milan was the only place we went were we felt like foreigners, and out of place.  It was just a big, wet, unfriendly place.  A dirty city like all the other dirty cities.

If it had any charm, we didn’t find it.


We ate our sandwiches, and everyone took naps.  I couldn’t sleep, so I took a walk and found a place that had internet access.  The great thing about the internet, is that it seems to be called “internet” everyplace in the world.  I just walked in and said “Internet?”, and he told me what number stall to go to.


I checked my email, and looked at the different websites that I help operate.  Everything seemed to be going okay back home.  I paid the clerk €1.00 for the access and headed back to the hotel.


I noticed a restaurant across the street from the hotel and noted that it opened at 7PM.  Our luck in Milan hadn’t been that great, so I figured that we would probably be better off just going across the street than trying to find anything else.


When dinner time came, we went to the restaurant.  The service was very good, and the food was excellent.  We ate fairly light, and the waiter seemed surprised when he would offer us different kinds of food, or desert and some of us would turn it down.  At the end, I got a bill for exactly 100 Euro.  I was confused as to how all that different food was exactly that price.  Later I figured out that it was an all inclusive meal at €20.00 per person.  We were supposed to get Soup, Salad, Pasta, Entrée, Desert, Wine, Coffee… etc.  We only accepted about ¼ of the actual meal!  If we had eaten everything we paid for it probably would have been a great deal.  But, we didn’t understand until it was too late. Oh well.


Totally disappointed in Milan, and probably depressed because it was our last night in Italy, we went to bed.


I didn’t take a single photo in Milan.


Next: We say goodbye to Italy, and take a train up and over the Alps and visit Interlaken, Switzerland!


But first: Since there are no photos from Milan, here is one of Me and Erin typing at a fever pitch on the Internet at Hotel Villa Parco in the Lido area of Venice.


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