We had a week vacation early this year and we originally planned to go to Prague but then decided that we would instead go to Milan. From Aarau Switzerland, Milan was just a comfortable 3.5 hours drive.
We arrived at our Radisson Blu Hotel a little before 1pm. Check in was at 1400 but without qualms, the reception gave us our key and we were able to get into our room. The reception was also very friendly and professional and answered our questions about the city; where to go and what to go as well as how to go around.
Our room was in the newly-renovated wing of the hotel and it still smelled of fresh paint along the corridor. Fortunately, the room did not carry the same smell, perhaps because of a good ventilation system.
We left Switzerland in a gloomy winter weather but surprisingly, Milan was all sun, albeit with cold winds in the late afternoon.
We first checked the pool and the wellness area. Our main purpose for this vacation was just to relax and get some sauna. Switzerland was freezing so we craved for some sun and warmth.
The wellness area can be accessed using the room key. It has a small pool, massage area, locker, shower and sauna as well as a fitness center.
The bathroom was also very generous. There was a tub and a separate shower with two toilet bowls 😀
Now about Milan.
Our hotel was near the outskirts of the city so we had to ride a bus or a tram. Having seen where the bus stop was when we walked around earlier, we decided to use the bus.
In Switzerland, it is very easy to navigate the public transportation. There are ticket machines at the stations or when there are none, then one can purchase direct from the bus driver. There was no ticket machine in this particular bus stop so we thought that we could just buy from the driver.
Unfortunately, one cannot buy ticket from inside the bus and fortunately, there was no ticket control or we heard afterwards that we would have pay 20 euros each. (The ticket would only cost 1.50 euro). I mean, why would the arrangement be like that? I am so spoiled living in Switzerland where here, everything functions seemleasly.
We arrived at the city center in about 15 minutes. The city center, where the cathedral can be seen, was exquisite.
The area sorrounding the Cathedral was bursting with life. High end stores abound in gold architecture. This part of the city smells of money and opulence. It is so beautiful how an age old architecture mingled smoothely with a very modern vibe.
This area of the city was also very multi-cultural. I saw Asians, Americans, Arabians, of course Europeans. The area in front of the Cathedral also serves like a meeting point. For the two times that I went, several events seem to be there with participants bring their beers and moods. There were street musicians, demonstrators, tourists who were all over the place with their mobile phones, as well as groups who sit down with their chips and drink in good spirits.
The outskirts of Milan however, carry a more local vibe.
Mom and pop stores still flourished. Grocery shops, laundry shops, kebab and pizza stands, barber shops, restaurants abound. In a way, it felt like Manila without the shabby houses.
I have noticed this because in Switzerland, there are less mom and pop stores and it is a bit difficult to just go out and eat in some comfy street-food stands. Unless one is in a big city like Zürich or Geneva.
The streets of Milan, though, carry lots of litter. Also, I noticed that cars just park at the both sides of the streets so it was pretty stressful. I saw one car who parked with just 1-2 centimeter space in between other cars and in doing so, he just hit the bumper of the car in front of his.
All in all, I enjoyed my stay. This part of Italy carry lots of culture and a sort of memory of a time gone by. What I found very good was that local industry still abound and people actually buy from them. Italians also seem very friendly and accommodating. The food was great. In this area, Italy never disappoints. I guess the ability to make good food is inside the very DNA of the people there. 🙂
I would certainly be back.