Saturday, 24 September 2005

Travelling: Venezia

I’ve always wanted to go to Venezia and I can’t quite believe that I finally have been!!! I went the weekend of 16 September with several of my classmates and friends (12 of us in all). It was a really last minute thing. I mean there had been some talk about maybe heading to Venezia during the weekend, but we hadn’t actually made any final decisions till about 1.30am on Thursday (or should I say Friday), after we had finished watching a French/Spanish movie at one of my classmates’ apartment…which pretty much left us only a couple of hours to do whatever was needed (go home, pack, sleep) before catching the 7am train. All of us probably got about 2 to 3 hours of sleep that night, but there was the long train ride where most of us eventually fell asleep on after the initial chatter. Lol

It seemed everyone was going to Venezia that weekend though coz we met heaps of other exchange students on the same train and when we arrived in Venezia. The first thing you see coming out of the train station is the Grand Canal with the many buildings on the other side and the huge government building.
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Since we couldn’t check into the hostel till 2pm, we decided to hop onto the vaporetto for which we bought a 24hr pass. The vaporetto is basically the equivalent of the public bus coz in Venezia there are no buses and no cars….everyone travels by boat or by walking coz the land area isn’t very large and the streets are more like alleys – way too narrow for a bus or car to pass through. Anyway, the vaporetto took us down the Grand Canal so it was kinda like a sight-seeing trip down, with lotsa stops along the way.
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One thing we noticed on the trip down was that there were hotels and buildings with red penguin statues on the balconies…they were pretty common, but to date we’ve not found out why there are the red penguins there coz it wasn’t written in the guide books and the Italians we asked didn’t have a clue.

We kinda wandered around mostly waiting to check into the hostel and had lunch at some restaurant in the middle of a maze of alleyways. You can quite easily get lost in Venezia coz it’s a maze, plus there are lotsa dead ends at the end of alleys…I wouldn’t like to be running from someone there, you’d just turn left and right and get lost or find yourself at a dead end.
Image hosted by Typical Venetian streets...and Michael

After checking into the hostel, we went out and wandered around some more, mostly taking it easy. Probably the one place that really stood out was Piazza San Marco…which should probably have been named Pigeon Square instead. There were hundreds and hundreds of pigeons all over the place. You just wanna stomp on them really….think pigeon sea. They wander so close and there are so many of them that if you kicked out, you should probably be able to kick one of those annoying things. As you can see, I bear no love for pigeons…but they’re unhygienic, fat, greedy and ugly. If you hold out a piece of white paper, you’ll find a whole swarm of them flocking to you, flying in your face and perching all over you (and transferring billions of germs to you), thinking that it’s food coz tourists can purchase a paper cone of food (at an exorbitant price of course!) to feed the pigeons (which honestly that should be banned). Now if anyone is into hunting…

Actually Piazza San Marco is where the Basilica is and is just beside the Doge's Palace and it’s really beautiful at night…also partly due to the fact that it’s pigeon free then. The cafes around the perimeter of the piazza would have tables and chairs outdoors and there would be mini stages set up with quintets or quartets playing lively tunes or classical music. It’s definitely a place for lovers then…or a bunch of good friends just chilling 8).
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Dinner was at this nice restaurant with typically huge Italian portions and I enlisted Michael’s help in finishing off my pizza. Between us all we had 4l of wine as well…except that the 2 American chicks and this French/German one got drunk and got kinda embarrassing as we walked around after dinner.

Piazza San Marco is pretty in the early morning as well…coz there are no tourists and NO PIGEONS!! Anyway we spent some time exploring the Doge's palace and visited the Basilica. Getting into the Basilica took quite awhile though coz not only was there a queue to get in, but we also had to queue to move from the entrance of the palace to the Basilica as there were heaps of tourists and it was high tide so you could only walk on the raised platforms they put up. During high tide, the piazza is flooded and they set up raised pathways for walking. Unfortunately, the pathways are narrow and there are few of them…much fewer than the number of tourists, so it ended up being more like a queue just walking along the pathway!!
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Wednesday, 21 September 2005


Actual classes have begun this week and I would still be feeling like I am on holiday (which I kinda am…) if not for the fact that classes are outrageously long!! I’ve never had classes that went straight for 3 hours. I’m taking a Business Strategy class which goes from 2.30 to 5.45pm every Monday. It’s crazy…you tend to find yourself losing concentration after the first hour. The thing is, the lecturer’s are Italian and speak with a strong Italian accent so you’ve actually gotta concentrate hard to figure out what they are saying. Plus their handwriting is completely illegible… I supposed the lecturer for Business Strategy isn’t so bad coz he doesn’t have too strong an Italian accent, plus it’s a pretty interesting class and he’s not boring. He keeps telling us that the real title for the class is “How to Make Money…Legally”.

I’ve gotta say that the worst lecturer I have is the one for International Marketing. His Italian accent is so strong that half the time I wonder if I’m sitting in an Italian class instead. His handwriting is illegible and he mumbles from time to time to make himself even more incomprehensible. Perhaps he’s aiming to bore everyone into dropping the class, especially since there are so many of us taking that class and the lecture theatre assigned is too small to hold everyone.

Speaking of small lecture theatres, the one assigned to us for Management of Fashion Companies is ridiculously tiny considering that they knew how popular the class would be!! Plus the theatre isn’t even the bench type like the others, thereby disallowing fitting of more people on the seats. Rather, it has individual seats which are extremely uncomfortable for sitting in one place for half an hour never mind the fact that the lecture is 3 hours long…

Contrary to my expectations, my class in Technology and Innovation Management has been the best so far. I thought it would be really boring coz it wasn’t a paper I’d have taken by choice, but I didn’t have a choice and it’s the last paper I can get credit for back in Otago so I had to take it even though it totally clashes with my International Marketing class on Wednesdays (I’ll have to attend classes alternate weeks…). Anyway, the lecturer is hilarious and he’s really young…or at least he looks it…he looks like he’s under 25, but he’s a professor. He’s really loud and his English isn’t too bad. He has a funny way of speaking though…rather than dropping his voice inflection at the end of a sentence as people normally do, he maintains it so it sounds really weird as if the sentence is uncompleted but not quite.

As I’ve mentioned he’s hilarious. In today’s lecture, he constantly went on and on about how big companies can’t grow and survive and he kept telling us, “What I’m saying here, ragazzi, is that to survive you must grow! And you must grow in double digits otherwise you’ll die and you won’t have enough pension to pay for a room in a 5 star hotel.” He also loves asking “Giusto?” after making a point and then he’ll answer himself half a second later, exclaiming, “Giustissimo!” At one point in the lecturer, he leaned into one of the guys sitting in front and said, “In 15 years, ragazzi, you should be at the peak of your career otherwise you’ll never survive. Giusto? Giustissimo!” (exclaiming the ‘giustissimo’ of course). The look on the poor guy’s face was priceless…he was pretty much staring at the lecturer as if the lecturer had just sprouted 2 heads. I’m definitely looking forward to the lecture tomorrow.

Note: For the curious, “giusto” means ‘right’ and “giustissimo” implies that something is “more right than right” i.e. extremely right…whoever said Italians were sane?

Travelling: Varenna

One of the places many Italians recommended that we should check out was Lake Como. Lake Como is huge, with many small towns located all around it. Each town is different, with it’s own coat of arms and there was some rivalry in the past between the rulers of the towns to see who could build a better palace etc so there’s definitely plenty to see in terms of palaces and villas in each town. Alex and I took another day trip on our 2nd weekend to Varenna which was reachable by train from Milano (some towns can only be reached by taking the ferry from Varenna or Como).

Since Lago Como is slightly North of Milano, it’s closer to the Swiss border so the Swiss Alps can be seen across the lake.
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There are 2 Villas in Varenna with very famous gardens (everything seems to be famous to the Italians) – Villa Cipressi and Villa Monastero. They really have lovely gardens, especially in Villa Monastero, plus because it was still summer, the flowers were still in bloom so there was plenty of colour around!

Image hosted by Photobucket.comVilla Cipressi at the side
Image hosted by Photobucket.comVilla Cipressi grounds
Image hosted by Photobucket.comVilla Monastero
Image hosted by Photobucket.comVilla Monastero gardens

Aside from the villas, whose grounds took hours walking through because we were taking photos and admiring the plants, Varenna also has really old buildings…which of course has gotta be a church coz most of the old buildings in Italia are churches. The Chiesa San Giorgio is 13th Century architecture….impressive stone building with an even older but more impressive interior because of the statues and paintings and carvings.
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It was a pity we didn’t have time to travel to some of the other towns, but I suppose I could go another time. There was this store, Il Pozzo, in Varenna which sold absolutely gorgeous jewelry, which was kinda expensive as well. The earrings were really beautiful…and despite not wanting to spend anything, I ended up buying a pair coz the storeowner gave us a discount when he learnt we were students and well, I really really liked those earrings (and a couple of other pairs as well, but I couldn’t afford that many). Most of the jewelry is handcrafted in Firenze (Florence) though, so I might be able to get cheaper stuff when I go there. I have to make a trip to Firenze for shoes coz I broke both my pairs of heels!! Apparently Firenze has a good selection at reasonable prices and I do need them…lol

Travelling: Stresa

It's great being in a big place that’s so connected. You’ll never run outta places to see. I have no idea how I’m gonna be able to go everywhere in the short time I’m here! I doubt I’d be able to cover all of Italia, never mind the rest of Europa. Anyway I’ve been meaning to blog about my trip to Stresa some 3 weeks ago, but I never really got round to doing it…

I went to Stresa with my roomie, Alexandra (Alex) during my 1st weekend in Italia. Classes hadn’t begun yet and we didn’t know what to do over the weekend, so she picked up her guidebook and flipped through it before suggesting we go to Stresa which is 90km out of Milano, which made it a great day trip.

The train system is great. You can basically get almost anywhere in Italia (and to other countries) by it. It wasn’t too difficult for us to buy tickets at the railway station to Stresa which was about 1 ¼ hours train ride. The seats are pretty ok in the trains and the price was decent, being €4.75…not much to see on the way there but that gave us the opportunity to take a nap. Lol

Stresa is a small beach town, where there are many hotels…the really expensive ones. It’s also famous for the Grand Hotel where Ernest Hemingway once stayed at. They now let out the very same room he stayed in for a princely sum. As can be seen from the photo below, it is a really grand place and people there were dressed in formal wear in the middle of the afternoon…formal wear meaning guys in suits and ladies in designer gowns, much like what one would wear to a ball. It wasn’t just the Grand Hotel though. Guests at the other hotels were also similarly dressed, and no there was no function on.
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To me Stresa was built for tourists, but different…the streets were these paved paths with white street lamps. It seemed like something out of a storybook…and so very English.
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Most ordinary tourist who visit Stresa take the ferry out to the islands on Lake Maggiore – Isola Bella, Isola Pescatore (Superiore) and Isola Madre. Being ordinary tourists, Ale and I did the same although we just visited 2 of the islands, Isola Bella and Isola Pescatore.
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Out of the 3, Isola Pescatore was the only residential island and specialized mainly in fishing (why does that not surprise me?). There wasn’t really much to see there, but they had lotsa seafood restaurants and good beaches to suntan or have a picnic, as many people did. Isola Bella on the other hand is smaller and the Borromeo Palace is located there. The palace is huge with beautiful grounds, built by Count Borromeo for his wife Isobella.
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Stresa was a nice place (wonderful according to Alex who comes from New York where you don’t see nature), with definitely much fresher air than in Milano! I did think it was too commercialized though, which spoiled it somewhat, but it made for a good day trip.

Wednesday, 14 September 2005

Sono a Milano: Partying

Probably one of the great things about being on exchange is the number of parties the student network here organises for us. We had 3 parties in a single week. 1 on Friday when we first went to uni, which was kinda like a get to know everyone welcome party; 1 on Tuesday at this really great club, Casablanca, which was a get to know everyone better still and dance and another 1 on Thursday, which they called a "What's your name again" party.

I've gotta say that Tuesday's party was the best coz the club was big with 2 dance floors and 3 bars and it had good music. Practically everyone was there so I met heaps of people, plus there were italians who weren't from the uni as well (coz the club is still opened to the public but exchange students get in free with a student card) and I met quite a couple of Italian guys...come to think of it, all the italians I know are male... I guess that's coz Italian guys are pretty bold. They pretty much come up to you and pick you they clearly hit on you. They know how to do it pretty well too lol and they're definitely charming in their own way. Like quite a couple of the Italian guys I met, rather than shaking your hand after introductions, they kiss it, look right into your eyes and tell you you're beautiful, but they pretty much tell every chick the same thing so while it's
romantic, I don't suppose it's something that a girl can take too seriously. As I've
mentioned before, italian guys are bold. I was looking for my friend in the club and I met this italian guy and had a short conversation with him in my limited italian (almost all the italian guys I've met only speak italian). Then I told him I had to go coz I was looking for my friend...and I've also mentioned before that italian guys are rather persistent and sticky so naturally he tried to get me to stay but I told him I really needed to leave, so he was like aww and then he kinda grabbed me round the waist and kissed me full on the lips...something I wasn't quite expecting...

I gather that I'm getting influenced by my very typically American room mate and the
alcohol...which would probably explain why Tuesday night I wound up making out with this Moroccan guy on the dance floor. We were just dancing and then somehow it happened... The thing was that he lives in my residence which was bad because I definitely see him around. Even worse was that I couldn't remember his name. I mean I met the guy on Friday and I knew he lived in my residence, just couldn't recall his name and I had to ask my roomie the next day coz he's in her italian class. It was one of the things whereby you come back and lie down and go "What the hell did I just do?" He wasn't too bad a kisser though, although the best kisser I've come across so far was this aussie/kiwi guy I made out with in a club a couple of months back (whose name and face I can't recall...). Anyway I don't suppose the Morrocan guy remembers making out with me...or at least he doesn't seem to, which is good coz it's not awkward when we see each other (in fact he went to Thursday's party with my roomie and I). Of course there were classes the next day and everyone was just really stoned in class although the teachers understood coz they knew we were at the party...they're quite cool really.

Thursday's party was at a small club which wasn't very good coz it was too crowded to dance. Still it was fun coz you meet more people...and collect more phone numbers. Maybe I'm going through a wild phase...but it's good being single at large parties. You're pretty much free to hook up with anyone. Again I'm blaming the alcohol...had 3 drinks that night and italian drinks are waaaay strong. Usually back in NZ, when they make a whiskey and coke (my usual drink), it's 1 part whiskey 3 parts italy it's 3 parts whiskey 1 part coke. Plus I had a vodka redbull and a vodka lemon...on an almost empty stomach, so my head was buzzing happily throughout the night...had some trouble climbing up and down the stairs, but that wasn't too bad and I dun think anyone could tell that I had to concentrate to walk Anyway, towards the end of the night I met this Italian guy whose dad owns a restaurant in Hamilton in least he spoke English pretty ok and well...ended up making out with him. At least he doesn't stay in my residence and I'm gonna go out on a date with him sometime this week so he won't really be just a one-off kissing partner...I think. I can't quite recall his face (oops), but we've been texting each other to make a date except that it's been in italian so I've been flipping through my dictionary to supplement my limited vocab. I have mentioned that italian guys are sticky so I'm still uncertain as to whether it's a good idea to go out with him...but I figure I'll deal with that later. After ignoring the other sticky guy (although I did feel kinda guilty doing so) he's stopped trying to contact me...

But it's been fun so far playing on the wild side and it's good being female in Italy coz if you ask for free drinks you're more likely to get it from a male bartender and drinks here are horribly expensive!If my parents see this, they'll definitely flip...thank goodness they don't even know I've got a blog... I mean it's not really me...I'm not the wild type really. It's just this year and it's I think I've gotta cut back some on the partying though coz I was really tired and stoned on Friday in class which made understanding the class even harder than it usually is. Honestly if they have parties 3 times a week I'm gonna die...I'd probably flunk all my papers. There's a party every Tuesday at Casablanca though. I wonder where my self-discipline has gone?

Sono a Milano: Italian Class

It's been a week since my language classes started and I'm hoping my Italian has improved somewhat by now...actually I'm pretty sure it has, except for my pronunciation which is still lousy coz I still pronounce it the English way. Everyone in my class seems to speak Italian really fluently mainly coz they're super multi-lingual and majority of them speak Espagnole (oops...Spanish) which is very similar to Italian. There are heaps of Portugese in my class and portugese is similar to Italian too. I'm probably the worst in the class coz it takes me way longer than everyone else to understand when the lecturers speak fast. I can read and write it way better than I can speak or hear it. I'm thinking maybe I should have tranferred one class down coz apparently I'm in the highest level of the elementary classes (there are 4 levels of elementary classes). I must have done pretty well in that italian proficiency test they gave us before classes began to be placed in a class higher up, but then again it was a written test...

When they said it was an intensive course, they really meant intensive. We have classes everyday from 11.30am to 4.30pm with only a half hour lunch break in between sometime at 2pm!! It's insane least my teachers are nice and they give us half an hour, some classes only get 15 mins (but everyone just takes 45mins...the 'italian' 15 mins). The other day we had to go for this "special lesson" on the italian economy, whereby it's a mass lecture and we nearly didn't get a lunch break at all coz italian class was supposed to run from 11.30am to 2.30pm so a 5hr lesson was supposed to be condensed into 3hrs and then the special lesson would run from 2.30pm to 4pm thereabouts. Honestly the schedule is insane! Actual classes are gonna begin on Tuesday and then we'll be having the language classes everyday from 6 to 8pm so I'm not quite looking forward to that. I don't even get these kinda hours back home!!

One wouldn't expect these kinda crazy hours from Italians, considering that if you go out every night the bars and clubs are always crowded. Restaurants and pizzerias are opened till 2am every night and clubs open till much later. Just seeing all the people out at night, one would think that Italians never seem to need to work...I mean it's kinda hard going to work in the morning when you've been out partying late aye? Well at least for me...

Friday, 9 September 2005

Sono a Milano: The Italian System

I have never come across such an outrageously inefficient system before. Honestly, everything here is so disorganised and you've gotta wait ages to get anything done. Order something at a restaurant and they take like half an hour before the bring it over; call for the bill and it gets to you an hour later.

I'm supposed to get a foreigner's stay permit to make my stay here legal, even though I have a visa. To apply for a permit, you have to go down to the main police station with 4 passport photos and a couple of documents. The police station does this thing starting 8am in the morning till like 1 or 2pm and then they close. However, in order to actually get inside the building, you've gotta start queuing at 3 or 4am in the morning!!! Like seriously, if you arrive any later than 5am there'll be like 100+ people in front of you and you will be refused admittance because they only issue like 80 permits per day and there are lotsa refugees and all sorts of people, mainly indian and african families who come to get a permit. I've currently yet to get one coz I went once but we only arrived there at like 5am and we queued till it opened at 8am but were refused admittance. I was so totally pissed off and so was my roomie who had been refused entrance twice already. Plus, the staff there non parlano inglese!!! One would think that given that you're working with foreigners, you'd at least employ people who speak english, but no that would just be too easy of course and too organised for Italians... I'm not sure if I actually wanna go again. It's pure torture really and you don't exactly need it unless you're planning on getting into if the police stop you and ask for a permit and you dun have it you'd be in deep trouble, but otherwise...

I dun think I'll ever understand how italians get things done. You definitely have gotta have lotsa patience here, waiting for them to get things done. Like to pay rent we had to queue for about an hour and then class was supposed to start at 11.30am and they asked us to come collect our books at 11am. Naturally there was a mile long queue and naturally they never got around to giving everyone their books on time. In the end they just told everyone to check what class we were assigned to and then they'd give out the books in class...which is what they should have done in the first place!!!! Things are just pretty messy around here really which definitely takes some getting used to!!

Tuesday, 6 September 2005

Sono a Milano: Italians

Milan has fabulous architecture, especially around the city and all the buildings are so old. I've not seen any modern buildings yet! Other than the really old architecture, frankly it's an ugly place, but it has it's charm and especially in the city it's so european.

But I digress and to continue from where I left off the last time, about that Italian guy... It would seem that Italian guys are very persistent and bold. I mentioned before that that guy was becoming somewhat of a pain coz he seems to think that he likes me. Perhaps you're wondering why I used "seems" basically coz I knew him for less than 24 hours and he asked me if I liked him and if I wanted to kiss him. Like hello?!! I don't even know you! Perhaps if he was cute I might have considered it lol but he's not even close...ok I know that's mean but he's really annoying now and everytime I think of him I get annoyed. Anyway he's being a real pain because unfortunately he has my cell phone no (coz he went with me to get it and he took it down) and so he keeps calling and texting me to ask me out. I have completely ignored him, deleted all his messages and still he doesn't seem to get the hint. I'm hoping if I continue ignoring him he'll go away...

From observing people in Milan, Italians pretty much drink a lot, eat a lot and smoke like chimneys!! Practically everyone smokes here...honestly...I think if I were to develop cancer it'll be coz of all the second hand smoke I breathe in here. Regarding drinking, people order drinks in the middle of the it's not surprising to see someone having a cocktail at 1pm in the afternoon. Plus, every night, the clubs and bars are open and there are heaps of people having drinks or dancing...even on a Monday. Milan's party spot would have to be the streets along the 2 canals in town...Navaglio Grande and Navaglio Pavese. There are heaps of restaurants, bars and clubs and there are night markets every night. These streets are dead in the day though.

I've mentioned that Italians eat a heaps!! I went out for dinner one night with my room mate who is American Russian and we went to this restaurant on a boat on the canal and we ordered pizzas. We were told the pizzas were for 1 person so we each ordered one. The "single portion" pizza turned out to be the side of a large pizza from Pizza Hut!!! We could barely finish half of the whole thing. On our left and right were these couples and the chicks ordered pizzas too...but they managed to finish the entire thing! Plus the one on my left not only had a whole pizza, but ate 2 other courses (similar huge portions) as well. The thing is, the chicks were still super thin... I've yet to figure out how they eat so much and still stay so thin...or how they even manage to stomach so much food!!

The night we went out for dinner, was the first day I checked into Capitanio and was also the night I lost my the restaurant where we had dinner. I think I must be the only resident in Capitanio's history to lose my room keys so quickly!!! When I realised I lost my keys I called up the restaurant, but the waiter couldn't speak english! So I was trying to explain that I lost my keys in italian while frantically flipping through my dictionary for the words due to my limited vocabulary. It took me fifteen minutes and mentioning "perduto" and "chiave" like a gazillion times before the waiter finally got it and proceeded to help find my keys, except that he couldn't find them and he was like "no find key, I look but no find." So now I'm gonna have to pay €26 to get a new set of keys. My key problem didn't just end here. The keys I lost included the key to my closet which I had locked coz I had important documents and stuff inside. It took me another hour trying to explain to the receptionist that I couldn't open my closet and to ask if he had a spare key. Of course, given my luck that night, he didn't have one...or rather there was one but he couldn't find it. Luckily the next morning another of the management staff found the key and managed to open the door so I could get my stuff. As of now, my roomie and I are sharing a key which can get rather difficult given that we aren't together all the time (just most of the time).

Ok this is another really long blog and I believe I shall continue the story tomorrow...

Sunday, 4 September 2005

Sono a Milano: Getting There

Ok as anyone can tell I've totally given up ever blogging about my North Island trip so if anyone is actually interested to know, I'd be most willing to talk about it. For now the "hot" topic would have to be my last 3 days in Milan so far...

Ok starting from the beginning, I was totally freaking out before my flight to Milan (and it was fully justified) but nonetheless I got on the plane where I was supposed to make a stopover for 4hrs in Frankfurt. Anyway my seatmate was this German guy who was heading back to Germany to take up a job as brand manager for Unilever after graduating not too long ago from a uni in Australia and he majored in marketing too, so it was really interesting talking to him (and he was kinda cute too, but that's besides the point). Unfortunately, after we landed and we parted in the airport I realised I don't know his name...he asked for my email address though and so I gave it to him and my name, hopefully he'll email some time. The Frankfurt airport is confusing and huge and not very convenient...I ended up missing my flight coz they changed the boarding gate and I didn't hear the announcement coz there was so many gate changes it wasn't funny. So I was waiting at the wrong boarding gate and when I finally realised something was "off" and I asked about it, I'd already missed my much for a good start. I shall blame it on fatigue from the horribly long flight and the fact that it was 5.30 in the morning... Luckily, they managed to get me on another flight, except that it was 4 hours later. Well in any case a much later flight is better than no flight at all. It also saved me the problem of wondering what to do when I arrived in Milan coz with my original flight I would arrive in Milan at about 10am and I could only check into the backpackers at 2pm...although it took me so long to get there it wouldn't have mattered anyway.

Anyway, I got to Milan and I discovered that it's really hard getting around when u only speak sparse italian and understand even less! I think I wandered around the airport for awhile trying to read the signs to find out how I'd get to the city...and I think I annoyed the person at the info counter asking her heaps of questions. I finally managed to get on the right bus though which took me to Station Centrale. Then came the horrible process of lugging my luggage (36kg in total) around the station, looking for the metro! It was awful coz they had no elevators and I had to lug my stuff up the escalators to enquire at the info counter which was on the 2nd floor. If that wasn't bad enough, when I did find the metro, to my horror there were only stairs and no elevators OR escalators!!! I ended up having to carry my stuff down 2 flights of stairs. Thankfully there was this nice italian guy who helped me carry my suitcase down after seeing me struggling with it. Unfortunately he spoke only italian and so he couldn't help me figure out how to buy a ticket for the metro and I ended up having to ask one of the station staff, who thankfully spoke some english. When I got to my stop, the darn station had no escalators or elevators and I ended up having to carry my luggage UP the stairs this time...which was worse of course and there wasn't anyone to help.

By the time I reached the backpackers I was truly exhausted, plus the temperature was pretty much like Singapore's...but less humid. Then I was trying to use the phone to call my mum when I met this other italian guy (who is now becoming somewhat of a pain...but that's another story) and ended up having dinner with him, having a conversation through my trusty italian-english dictionary (because of course he spoke only italian). Ok this has been a really long entry so I guess I'll leave everything else for parts 2, 3, 4.... 8p