One of my absolute favorite weekend getaways that I took while living in England was a whirlwind trip to Milan. With the way the cheap fares worked out, I was only in the city for 24 hours … and it was magnificent, too magnificent to fit into a single post.
As with all my trips, there were little things that didn’t go as planned. By the time I took this adventure, I was prepared to take things in stride. I had read in a guidebook that I would need to buy my bus ticket in a tobacco shop and then take the downtown bus. I felt so pleased with myself knowing this vital information. What I didn’t know that would have been helpful is that there was more than one bus going “downtown.” I did not end up on the right one.
Once I realized things were askew, I got off the bus. I had noticed that there were large city maps at each bus stop, so I figured I’d take a look, get my bearings, and and go from there. Best laid plans…
What I couldn’t tell from on the bus was that those wonderful maps at each bus station did not have a “you are here” indicator. I had no clue, and I spoke no Italian.
This was during the Second Gulf War, and most of Europe was virulently anti-American, so I was hesitant to speak English. I tried my pigeon Spanish. I think I amused the elderly women at the stop. Finally in what would have been an award-winning charades performance, I asked where we were on the map. Finally as the next bus was arriving, one of the women walked over and pointed on the map. Graci!
Since I was only a couple miles from the hotel and and I only had a small backpack, I decided to walk. I loved wandering the streets and seeing the non-touristy spots. I bought a gelato from a street vendor – my first of three gelatos during my stay.
It was definitely a case of getting there being half the fun!
Am I the only one that regularly gets on the wrong bus/train while traveling? or What was your favorite travel misadventure?
6 thoughts on “Magnificent Milan”
Our family took a trip to Paris when my kids were in high school. My husband drove them crazy at every restaurant by waving away the English menu, insisting on the menu in French even though he is the only one in the family who never studied French. The kids still tease him about it to this day.
That was definitely a tease-worthy offense! I hope he has a sense of humor about it. I’ve never turned away an English menu.
I have one that coincidentally originated in Milan. My daughter and I were in the massive Milan train station, neither of us speaking Italian either and needing to catch the train to Genoa – departing at 13:05. We hopped on the train to Geneva that departed at 13:05. What a difference a couple letters make. Right? We were out of the station about a half hour when the conductor asked for our tickets, explained in broken English that we were heading to Switzerland rather than further south into Italy, told us to get off at the next stop, cross the tracks and go back – all while shaking his head.
Whoops. I swore I’d never go back to Europe again without learning a little of the language of my destination. I’ve been back four times – still no Rosetta Stone study for me. And I’m heading there again in December – to Germany and France – nope – no German and a wee bit of Francais. But I’m traveling with a daughter in law who speaks both. So I guess I’ve wised up a little.
It doesn’t matter though – like you experienced – it makes the adventure an adventure and I (we) always muddle our way through it.
Those extra letters do make such a difference!
I’m so excited for your European adventure this year! Having someone with you that speaks the language can make all the difference. Enjoy your trip!!!!
What a coincidence that I’m reading this. My wife and I are considering going to Milan (or Rome) in a few months. We’ve narrowed it down to somewhere in Italy at least. Anyway, getting on the wrong bus – I’ve done that, oh yeah. It can be confusing at times when you’re traveling somewhere new. I’ve had to backtrack many times. Although I’m usually pretty good at figuring out when I got on the wrong bus/train quickly so it doesn’t take too much time out of my travels.
Have a wonderful trip to Italy! I’ve never been to Rome – Milan was my sole Italian adventure. I really enjoyed it. November would be a better month for Milan than July – fewer mosquitoes!