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Monday, October 31, 2005

Milan - Day 1

The train arrives about 5 minutes late and it's about another 10 minutes later that I finally exit the station. The walk from carriage 3 to the top of the platform is a good 5 minutes and from there it's another 5 to go through the actual building. the station is just massive and a most imposing structure as I pull away in the taxi.

It's a pretty easy ride - the driver knows where to go and he uses his meter and without too much fuss I'm at the hotel.

This is a four star hotel, which begs the question how bad is a 2 star hotel. The room is probably generously sized for Europe but looks nothing like the photos the hotel uses to advertise itself. The bathroom is another of these 1970's jobs. It seems in the bathroom sink I have a hot water tap and a hotter water tap.

By the time I settle myself into the room it's around one, so I decide to kill a couple of birds with one stone.

The hotel is about a 15 minute walk to the Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele so I should be able to find some place to eat, either on the way there or around there. Once again I travel light, armed only with my camera phone.

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It does seem that renovation work is a constant - the main facade of the Duomo hidden by scaffolding. The piazza and Duomo still are even more stunning than I could have imagined. It's sort of one of those pinch yourself moments - for if that wasn't enough, there's still the Galleria!

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For a time my mother lived in Milano and one of the things she took with her when she moved to Australia was a postcard of the Galleria, so in one of those full circle moments I've actually taken the postcard with me on this trip.

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There was one notable difference and I must admit it made my heart sink - how could they allow this to appear not only in the galleria but in one of the prime corners of the galleria

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When I headed back outside I noticed that a significant crowd had built up -

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girls screaming as they looked up towards one of the balconies

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I stayed for a while, trying to work out who was causing this hysteria - eventually the reason appeared to the crowd to a chorus of screams - it's Oasis! Imagine the reaction if it was someone really famous ;)

After this brief brush with fame I ended up at a cafe for a late lunch. Oh dear, the food situation isn't improving. I order what looks to be a nice Cotoletta Milanese with vegetables. What I get is a microwaved meal! The dishes that I thought were display dishes are in actuality what they serve. The plated meal is plonked in the microwave and pinged. I feel as if I'm in an alternative Italy, this cannot be what Italian cuisine has become.

When I returned to the hotel I was rather downcast but decided to explore my closer surrounds to see what was on offer. Opposite the hotel I found two bakeries producing what looked to be lovely traditional sweets and just a few doors from the hotel I found a cafe, where over a perfectly made Cafe Latte I cheered up some.

For dinner I decided to try out a panini bar (Bar della Crocetta just down from the hotel. I had seen their menu in the hotel's information book and noticed that they had Culatello available. Culatello is the king of salami and I've been meaning to try some during this trip.

To cut a long story short, I order the Culatello panino to take away - just in case it proved inedible. As I sat in my room with the toasted panino in my hands - I took a bite and all those bad feelings just disappeared. This was ambrosia. If I couldn't find anywhere else to eat, there was still this place.

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