Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Milan, the Fashion Capital

While waiting for the train to Milan, I gave Dad a call asking him where he ate when he was in Milan 2 years back. Hubby and me were dying for rice already after a week in Italy and I remember Dad did tell me before I departed that he had good briyani while in Milan. So, we made a mental note that our mission in Milan was to find a place selling briyani.

Again, took the train from Florence to Milan. Around Euro 40 per person. Milan Centrale – Milan’s train station was jam-packed when we arrived. It was certainly the busiest train station compared with the three cities’ stations we stopped at before.

Our hotel was just across the road from the station - Starhotel Anderson. This was the first chain hotel we stayed in and it was nice. What I liked most about the hotel was the look of the lobby. It was kinda contemporary fusion (is there such a term? Hehe) i.e. Modern plus classic! Not forgetting the lifts – dimly lit with Milan’s snapshots decorating the four walls of the lifts (The most romantic lift I encountered). Breakfast was complimentary and I loved the variety of Italian breads. Soft, fluffy and uniquely tasty and not forgetting the many types of cheese. Coffee? Marvellous! I’d normally end up with headaches if I took coffee, but in Italy, headaches were non-existent to me!!

1) San Siro Stadium – Went for a museum and studio tour (Euro 12 per person). Hubby was ecstatic and he ended up taking lotsa pics and videos. He even took pics of things sold in the souvenir shop. I enjoyed it too. Wished that I’d bumped into Beckham. Why you may ask? Simply because we were there on the day AC Milan was announcing that he’s joining their team. Managed to catch press setting up for the press conference to be held that evening. Beckham’s posters were everywhere. The stadium's pretty far from Milan town. We took the cab and it costed us around Euro 17. Bought T-shirts (from Euro 20) and key chains (from Euro 6) at the stadium store.
2) Galleria Vittorio Emanuele — The mother of all shopping malls in Milan. Upscale shops in a splendid 19th century palace of a mall. Prada originated from Milan and the very first Prada shop established is in this mall. Other shops include LV and many, many upscale cafes. Ended up buying 2 cds from the music store. Laura Pausini and Tiziano Ferro at Euro 20 each. Discovered them while watching MTV there. Mahal kan? (if convert lah) But after listening to them, they were worthy buys indeed.
3) The Duomo and surrounding area – Like Florence, the Duomo is one of the city’s heritage symbols. It’s surrounded by both historic and modern architecture. This is where you can do most of your shopping. There are all sorts of middle to high end retail outlets here. Ferrari, Zara, the big department store La Rinascente etc. The Duomo is around the corner to La Scala Theatre – one of the world’s famous opera theatres. Dunno whether it’s true, but a taxi driver told us that it’s difficult to get tickets to the shows there unless you’re a socialite. And bookings have to be made years in advance. Oh yeah, we were in Milan on the day Natalie Cole performed for a free open Christmas concert near Duomo. It was fabulous. An open concert under the stars and it so happened that day was our 5th wedding anniversary. I forced hubby to dance along under the stars with Natalie Cole in the background singing! Bila lagi kan? It’s Natalie Cole in person ok? Her finale was the evergreen Unforgettable. The crowd went wild when she sang the song..and so did I!
4) Foxtown Factory Outlet – This is situated in Mendrisio, a small town bordering Milan and the gate to Switzerland. We bought a return bus ticket from the local travel agent, costing Euro 12 per person. The journey to the outlet was around 30 mins. The scenery nearing Mendrisio was breathtaking as we could see Swiss Alps right in front of us. Foxtown is a huge shopping mall. Damage done to the pocket? Giorgio Armani sunnies @ Euro 40, Lacoste Tees @ Euro 30, Benetton Kids tees @ Euro 10, Armani caps @ Euro 15, Gucci sunnies @ Euro 60 etc.

Eat :
1) We found a Northern Indian food and had prawn briyani there. Rice never tasted so good. Hehe. The whole meal costed nearly Euro 50 for the both of us but then what the heck? Mengidam sangat!
2) Loads of gelato – we made a mental note to check our blood sugar level when we get home. With the abundance supply of authentic gelato around, it’s as if we were going on a ‘glucose diet’ there in Italy. Hehe.
3) McD (oh no, again?) – We opted for the different meals they offered. Spinach nuggets and prawn fritters. Yummy. Each meal at Euro 3. Wish they have them in Malaysia!

Leaving Milan, we took the airport shuttle from the terminal located across the road from our hotel (Euro 12 one way per person). We left Milan for Paris via Milan Malpensa Airport, located 45 minutes from Milan city. Our Easyjet flight took off from Terminal 2, so, a reminder to travellers who are planning to do your VAT claim, leave for airport early as the VAT Claim counter is in Terminal 1. These terminals are pretty far from one another. So, you need ample time to reach the airport, check in, claim your VAT and do you last minute shopping at the airport before boarding your plane. My personal rating for Milan? 3.5/5 :) Next destination? Bon jour Paris, here we come!

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