**Pictures to be uploaded soon
6am wake up call to meet the group at 6:30 to hop on a bus and catch our first train. While waiting for our next train, we were treated to a sunrise coming up through the mountains. Our second train was 3 hours and it took us to Milan. This would be the beginning of two days without showers. This was mentally hard to prepare for, as it has been so hot in Europe so far, and Milan was going to be no exception. We only have the day in Milan before going on our overnight train to Rome. Because we will be staying in a hotel in Rome vs a hostel, the showers are in the room, therefore you could not take one until you checked in, around 4pm.
Because it was a Sunday, the downtown was pretty dead. I expected to see a lot of high fashion in Milan, but again, with it being the weekend, it was mostly tourist, so we only saw very little. We walked through a lot of shopping centers and street performers, some who were quite good. There was a guy who was playing different glass bottles and a woman dancing with a glass ball.
Our first stop was lunch, at this really cute and really delicious pizza place, where you can buy pizza by the slice, and then we went to get gelato after, which was really good! It is a big difference going from the swiss alps to a busy city in Italy.
Some things I learned about dining in Italy. There is sometimes a table charge, where they charge per person to sit and dine in. The servers will bring bread and sometimes champagne to the table. This is not free, you will be charged if you eat or drink anything, even if you did not order it. Water is also not free, and can sometimes cost as much as a glass of wine. You do tip in Europe, usually 10 – 15% is customary.
With full bellies, we walked over to Duomo, which was quite a sight, headed to the castle and into the gardens, where most of the group settled in for a rest and some of us took a nap in the shade. I must say, this was one of the best naps I had, even though it was fairly short.
To not waste the day, we decided to go explore the section of town in which we were going to be having dinner. It was really cute and nice to walk along the shop lined streets. We also walked along the canal, where they were having some type of race, my guess would be a triathalon, based on how fatigued a lot of the swimmers were. Most of them were just using their arms and letting the current help take them down the canal. I am not sure if I would go swimming in this canal, although it was definitely one of the cleanest we have seen so far.
Along the way, we also popped into this cute coffee shop for a break and some coffee. I ordered a mocha, and it was served in this cute little cup. It was espresso, chocolate and a dolop of whip cream on top. It was really good, and a great pick-me-up.
We met the group for dinner and had a buffet style meal, that was very inexpensive but what you would expect from a buffet meal. By now, we are tired and sweaty from the day, but thankfully with full bellies. We arrive to the train station to pick up our overnight train. There are four of us to a cabin, which is smaller than I was expecting and about as comfortable as sleeping on cardboad. The two bathrooms are shared with all the cabins in that train block. We also had to keep all the luggage in the cabin with us, which made space even more limited. Should be a fun night. Tomorrow we will wake up and find ourselves in Rome.