Today marked the beginning of a new chapter of my life. It began like any other. I woke up had a cup of coffee, went outside for a smoke, but I immediately realized that I was not in Korea anymore. I was basking in the intoxicating aroma of freshly fallen rain that permeated the air. The city moved by at a relaxed but steady pace. The air was crisp and lacked the ever-present toxic haze of Seoul. Excitement welled up inside me as reality hit me like a punch to the face. My journey has finally begun!
I began my day by heading to a local cell phone shop, called Wind. I quickly procured a SIM Card for my phone. The entire process of getting an Italian phone number and phone plan took about fifteen minutes and was shockingly cheap, only 25 Euros for the first month and 10 Euros for each subsequent month. The plan provided me with 500 telephone minutes and 20 Gigs of Internet Data, which is way more than I anticipated for the cost. Within two hours my phone was activated and ready to use.
Before leaving my hotel, Atlantic Hotel, which is ideally located near the train station, I had plotted out a chart of places of interest on the Milan Travel Guide app that I had downloaded that morning. The app was super helpful because it offers offline GPS maps and Wiki articles, which enabled me to locate and navigate to places that I desired to visit without having to be connected to the Internet. I highly recommend this app if you plan on visiting Milan.
My first stop was Basilica di San Bebila, a charming Catholic church, which was beautifully lit inside and housed a stunning artistic rendering of the Madonna on the right side of the nave. I spent quite a while surveying the stunning religious art that adorned the walls and ceilings of the chapel. My next stop was San Bernadino alle Ossa. The church itself was beautiful, but the highlight was the attached side chapel, whose walls are adorned with the bones and skulls of humans. The chapel was beautifully macabre and is definitely worth checking out.
Next door I visited the Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore. This large church was very dimly lit, but also contained some lovely religious art, and I spent quite a while roaming around and taking it all in. I eventually started heading towards the Duomo di Milano, which is only a short walk away. On the way I was approached by a number of random people who started talking to me and asking questions. I suppose I was doing a good job of blending into the crowd and not looking like a total tourist. As I entered the Piazza del Duomo, I was greeted by throngs of tourist and pigeons. The Doumo di Milano is a stunning architectural marvel, and it’s breath-taking to look at. Since this is my second visit to Milan, I decided not to repeat the tour of the inside of the Duomo, but I do highly suggest taking a tour. It is definitely a must see site while in Milan.
By this time it was early afternoon and the hunger was rising up inside of me. I located a great outdoor rooftop restaurant with a view of the Duomo. The restaurant is called Obica Mozzarella Bar. The food and service there is outstanding, and the view is amazing. This restaurant is excellent, and I will return to it every time I visit Milan. Only a few steps away lies the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, which is an absolutely gorgeous shopping mall lined with high-end stores. The mall itself is absolutely stunning; it brought a tear to my eye because on my first visit to Milan with my mom, a few years back, she got a bit emotional because this was the first place we visited after arriving in Milan, and it brought back memories of her visit to Milan that she did after she graduated high school and did a tour of Europe.
By this time my legs were beginning to ache, and I decided to call it a day. I began my trek back to my hotel. As I walked, the weather began to take a turn for the worse, and I was not prepared since my luggage had been left in Moscow for an extra day, and my umbrella was in my luggage. However, I made the best of rainy day, and I happily let the rain drops soak me as wandered the streets back home. I even made a stop at the neighborhood supermarket to pick up some snacks and a bottle of Pinot Grigio before arriving back at my hotel. Upon arrival at my hotel I was informed that my luggage had arrived and had been delivered to my room. A sense of relief washed over me and I celebrated with a glass of wine and a nice long nap.
Day one of my trip was absolutely amazing, and I can’t wait to get day two started!