I jumped into telling about my trip with Monteriggioni, because of the Alpha and Omega symbol, the Beginning and the End.
From a chronological perspective, the journey began at an airport, of course. Not much of interest to share about my flights--except that I did have an empty seat next to me all the way across the Atlantic, a rare and welcome experience.
And then there was the Amsterdam-Milano flight that had an interesting twist: We had fully boarded and loaded the plane and then were told that it could not fly, because--get ready--a lavatory door was missing. This was not a safety issue, we were assured, but it was a liability concern, and therefore the plane could not fly. We would have to wait for a second plane to land, disembark, and load and board the other plane.
How a lavatory door could be removed from a plane without anyone noticing until the plane was completely set to take off is beyond me. It's a mystery I'll have to live with, though.
So, I arrived at Milano more than an hour late, but that was fine, as I had nothing to do but call this Ramada Inn Hotel and wait for a shuttle to come pick me up. And that's what I did, once I figured out how to get change for a phonecall on a Sunday, when almost everything in the airport was closed....
I was driven to the hotel by a sweet older Italian man, who was surprised to hear me speaking Italian and happy to converse about the importance of travel and languages. He had spent a total of six years of his life in India! A very interesting man, somewhat unusual for an Italian, from my experience.
I'm not one to splurge on hotels, but I learned last time I traveled alone to Italy that spending the money for one good night's sleep after that long flight (rather than going straight from air travel to train travel, and arriving truly exhausted at my destination) was well worth the expense.
I was happy that the same hotel I stayed in two years ago had room for me, even though I arranged it very late in the game. I wrote about this place in my May 12 and 19, 2008, posts, if you want to check it out. Two years ago I had the energy and motivation to walk to the nearby town of Oleggio--the motivation being to avoid paying hotel restaurant prices for food! In the older posts, you can see some shots of architecture in the city and of the cows in the country!
This year, I was less motivated since everything in town would be closed, it being Sunday. But the hotel itself is pleasant, and I paid the circa $17 for a plate of risotto alla Milanese and a bottle of water, and didn't regret it too much. You gotta love a hotel that has this many bicycles out front, anyway!
So, the next morning I took a walk along the nearby streets, where I saw this metal banner for one of the businesses on the street. I never saw the name of the place, but I loved their creative sign.
Walking around the grounds of the hotel itself wasn't too boring, either. They've done a nice job with the landscaping, and the tower section of the hotel adds a note of interest.
I am still in denial about the reality of the European Union. All throughout the years of its being talked about, I hoped it wouldn't come to pass. I'm sure I absorbed some of that attegimento via my Italian friends, who tended not to think it a very good idea. Many still think it was a mistake, from what I hear. But it happened: the flags are seen here and there, usually, as here, next to the Italian flag; the license plates all look the same; the money is boring, as it is the same all over most of Europe; people lament about how countries are losing their distinctiveness; and life goes on.
I end with this photo and its teasing "what's around the corner?" feel, and I'll try to let you know that soon.