The next morning we got up early and departed the ship for the last time, carrying our suit cases to the train station. We took the people mover they have by the port which makes the trip a lot easier when you have luggage. The biggest issue in getting to the train station is to get over the large pedestrian bridge that only has steps and no ramp. There are porters trying to get you to use their services for 5 Euros a bag but we elected to do it ourselves. We went to the train station and stopped for coffee and Danish before boarding our train ride to Milan. When we arrived in Milan our hotel was only a short walk from the station.
After we got situated in the hotel we met our niece back at the train station to spend some time with her. She was staying in Milan for a few weeks as a college student shadowing doctors in one of the local hospitals. We had decided several months ago that it would be fun to spend a little time with her while she was in Milan. She took us by the Milan Cathedral which was very impressive and sits on the large Piazza del Duomo. We walked around the fashion malls (Galleria Vittorio Emanuele) and they were very nice. Milan is considered one of the fashion centers of the world. We walked down to an impressive castle called the Castello Sforzesco where the Dukes of Milan once lived and ruled. After having a gelato we decided to take the Metro over to a nearby neighborhood known for its bars and restaurants. All of these establishments were along a river that ran through the neighborhood and people just sat outside and watched everybody walk by. After some walking we decided to get a little food at one of the restaurants during “happy hour”. Happy hour in Milan is different than the US since the reduced price is actually for a buffet meal and one drink. If you drink more than the one drink the cost of the second is much more expensive. The meal we had was actually pretty good and allowed us to try a few different things. We then took the metro back to the train station and helped our niece buy her train ticket to Venice where she was going to meet her parents a few days after we left. We said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel.
The next day we had arranged a tour to Lake Como from a tour supplier called City Tours. It turned out to be an awesome tour. We first went into Switzerland to Lugano. This was a nice little town on a very peaceful lake. We sampled some of the Swiss chocolate in the stores and it was great. After our free time was over in this city we headed back into Italy and took a ferry to Bellagio which is on Lake Como. Bellagio is undoubtedly the most famous town on Lake Como. It is absolutely beautiful with its panoramic views and flower-lined streets. It is also one of the most expensive towns to visit/stay at. We stopped at Bellagio for about 3 hours to admire the views, shops and lunch before we took a ferry for a 2 hour ride viewing the other 15 towns and the stunning view of the Alps. Our tour guides talked to us about the history of Lake Como and where many of the famous people lived. It was sort of like a Hollywood tour but many of the homes being shown to us were of people we were not familiar with although everyone was anxious to take several pictures of George Clooney’s estate as well as the home that many shots of the recent Star Wars movie was filmed from. We finished our boat ride in Como and boarded the bus to go back to Milan. We were very impressed with both Lake Como and the area around Lugano. Both of these areas are some place we wouldn’t mind going back to although Milan will never be a place that holds much excitement for us as tourists. Milan is an interesting city where 3 million people live although there are only 1 million permanent residents. Many people that come to Milan commute there for work and only go there during the week days. It is a hub of fashion and manufacturing.
Our long trip is finally over! After 78 days and 21 countries we are back in the US! There is nothing like living in the US and you never know how lucky you are until you see some of the other countries in the world. We probably won’t be sending out any more blogs until our safari which we start in early August. This is another trip we are excited to take. Later this year, in October, we will be heading to the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu. More fun times coming – stay tuned!
Sharon & Greg