Wednesday, July 14, 2010


The coming sequence of blog posts describes a trip to Europe that I took for work (a “business trip”, if you will). I knew that such an event was a possibility for the project that I have been working on, but I didn’t want to get my hopes too high in case it didn’t happen, but about a week before we received confirmation that we would have to send someone to attend a meeting in Monza, Italy (just outside Milan) on Thursday, followed by some meetings in Barcelona, Spain on the following Monday and Tuesday. Somehow I was chosen as the lucky man who would attend the meeting in Italy, and I would then be joined by two co-workers (“colleagues”, if you will) for the Barcelona meetings.

I flew out from Seattle on Tuesday, July 13 at 1:50pm, with a connection in Paris before continuing to Milano and landing in Milan-Linate Airport (Milan has another airport called Malpensa that is considerably further from the city center, so I was happy to be flying into Linate). The connection in Paris was pretty tight, as we landed just as my next flight was starting to board, but I made it onto the plane in time. Unfortunately, as I found out when I reached Milan at 11:15am the next morning, my checked baggage was not quite so fortunate and it remained in Paris. In one way this was a bit of stinker, since I had some important stuff in my luggage (such as clothes), but on the other hand, I had been wondering if there was somewhere I could stow my luggage somewhere for the afternoon while I explored Milan before continuing on to Monza (which is about 15km or so from the Milan city center) and this solved that dilemma. The airline representative informed me that my luggage would arrive on the next flight from Paris at 3:00pm, so, unencumbered by luggage, I bought some delicious focaccia and headed into Milan for some sightseeing.

It had been pretty cool temperatures when I left Seattle so I had dressed for that weather, so the first thing that I noticed when I stepped out of the airport was that it was stinkin’ hot. I took a bus into the city center, and the first order of business was to eat some delicious gelato. Molto bene! Milan was nice to walk around as a number of the streets in the city center are open only to pedestrians. The first interesting thing that I saw (besides the gelato vendor) was a rack of bikes that were part of the city’s bike sharing program:

Awesome! The bikes looked really nice, with racks, built in locks, and fenders. I spent a few minutes trying to figure out how I could use one of them, but as my Italian vocabulary consists only of “Si”, “Grazie”, “Bene”, and “Ciao”, I had limited success and decided that I was better off to continue on foot. I think bike sharing programs are a great idea, hopefully more North American cities will catch on to this.
I continued on to one of the main sights in Milan, a giant cathedral (the 3rd largest in the world according to the travel guide to Milan that I had obtained from the Seattle library) called the Duomo. Here is a picture of the exterior, quite impressive:

I toured through the inside briefly which was equally impressive, but you were not supposed to take photos (although everyone else seemed to be), so I don’t have any pictures to share. I was happy to have checked off the obligatory old church visit for my European vacation, so I continued on my way. I wandered around through some old castle type structure, and down a bunch of narrow streets where I took this photo of a never-ending row of parked scooters:

There were tons of scooters around, it would have been pretty fun to rent one to go buzzing around the city. I then wandered through some sort of shopping structure with a really interesting domed glass roof:

By this point it was around 5pm and I felt like I had maxed out on being a city tourist, so I headed to Milan Central Train Station where I caught a train to Monza. As a side note, public transit is so awesome. Had I taken a taxi from Linate Airport directly to Monza it would have cost over 60 euros, but my trip of a bus into Milan and then a train to Monza came to a grand total of 2.50 euros. Deal!

After a bit of wandering around I found my hotel, and after checking in I asked if my luggage had been delivered. It had not arrived, so I headed up to my room and called the airport baggage service. The woman who I spoke with there could not tell me if my luggage had been found (though the person I had spoken with at the airport seemed sure it had been), nor could she tell me if it would arrive that night. I didn’t feel that jeans and a sweaty T-shirt was proper attire for an Italian business meeting, so I frantically headed to the Monza shopping district to buy some presentable clothes before the shops closed at 7:30pm. After a bit of leg work I came up with an acceptable outfit, here I am modeling it in my room at the conclusion of my mission:

Bene! With this out of the way I took a much-needed shower and climbed into bed to finally get some sleep as I had not been able to sleep on the overnight plane ride.

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