Wednesday, 10 March 2010

when in milan...

someone once famously said, "When in Rome, do the Romans" a naughty little spin on the classic line, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." As it turns out, that person was I.

however... we are in milan, and apparently the milanese do things a little differently.

for one, they don't seem very naughty to me. farrrr from it. at first sight, milan appears grey, industrial and a bit too dusty for my liking (if you know what i mean). i came with no expections, yet somehow, it doesn't quite measure up. maybe rome has forever tainted me with its classically stunning architecture and tourist-friendly vibe; italian men calling out "ciao bella!" with every step you take.

BUT, one thing i've learnt in life: never judge a book by its cover - we're in MILAN for god's sake, MILAN! the land of genuine fur coats (which salesgirls spend all day brushing) and chic old men/women running errands looking like they've just stepped out of a scene from a 50s movie.

after our treacherous journey from london to milan (which very nearly didn't happen), and a lengthy bus and taxi ride later, we emerge in an unfamiliar part of the city; where the locals seem to speak only italian. i can't explain why we were as surprised as we were, after all, it IS italy, it's only natural the italians speak italian.

*snug as bugs in rugs are we; tucked away from the outside world of whitewashed streets, in a chic little hotel in milan, as pellets of snow fall hard and fast.

what a difference a few hours makes.

the treacherous trek

5.20am - we arrive at stansted, head straight for airport security - pleased as pencils because we already checked in online last night. needless to say, i am stunned to be directed to the check-in counter because i'm not an EU/UK citizen and had to get my passport/visa checked. OMG! our faces turn white at this unwelcome obstacle (the first of many to come). panicked by the sight of the neverending queue, i head straight to the front and plead with the first guy in line (one of the only times being a small asian girl comes in handy) to let me go first.

to my surprise, he does. i'm ever so grateful.

fresh/flushed from my newfound success, we run to the security high five-ing each other. we should have known better; murphy and his law wouldn't have let us off that easily!

5.40-5.50am - uh-oh. laura's bag gets taken aside and checked. hairspray gets confiscated!

5.50am - gate opens. we pass on the notion of buying breakfast and brisk walk to gate 47, which is an eternity away.

5.55am - nearly at our gate when we are stopped and told to put ALL our bags in one suitcase. heart stops beating. panicked faces. i forcefully stuff my handbag into the suitcase, barely managing to zip it up. laura passes her camera bag to me and i sneakily sling it on my shoulder, underneath my massive red cape - thank god for capes, ponchos, fur coats and the like. a fellow passenger whispers, "if i were you, i'd just make a run for it!!" being the honest folk that we are, we make a feeble attempt to abide by the rules - kind of.

6.00am - just when we think are in the clear, we notice (with great alarm) that the staff are doing bag checks along with the scanning of boarding passes. OMG! laura makes it but i get stopped and told to fit my bag into that dreadful cage-like thing. it feels like one of those, 'leave me behind! just save yourself!'-type situations. i shoot laura a look of sheer terror, she motions with her eyes for me to make a run for it, but i motion back that they have my passport. i am dying inside. i knew my bag wouldn't fit even before i tried.

in case you were wondering, it didn't fit.

using my god-given cavemen-survival instincts, i hastily unpack and repack my bag; stuffing underwear into every available crevice in an attempt to flatten the suitcase. embarrassment be damned! i bet more than a few caught a glimpse of its colourful contents, not that i even noticed. my heart was too busy having an attack of its own. not to mention/add, laura's illegally stowed camera bag kept slipping off my shoulder.

surprise surprise, it fits. YES! it feels like i've just won the lottery. i run to the plane feeling higher than high. this could possibly be the best feeling in the world. who needs drugs when you can bluff ryan air into carrying more than 10kg of your handcarry luggage onboard? NOT US, that's for sure!

6.05am - finally. we board the plane and take our seats; albeit a little jumpily, our eyes darting from side to side in anticipation of the next obstacle. to our relief, the plane takes off and we're off to milan!

our adventure begins...


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