Buon giorno from Milano (Milan), Italy! I write this sitting down in an Internet Cafe close to the hotel at 5:00PM local time (10AM Houston Time). Today is Thursday and is our last full day on our trip before heading back tomorrow. We are both exhausted and ready to come home for some rest.
You have probably worried that I haven't heard from me in three days. While in Cannes, it was very expensive to use the Internet as I originally thought it was free. We traveled most of the day yesterday and were unable and too tired to sit down and write. Well, let me catch you up on a few things.
On Tuesday morning I finished up my business affairs had lunch with our group and took a tour that I booked earlier that morning. The tour company offered the "Monaco" tour that included Monte Carlo, Eze (pronounced ez), and La Turbie. Eze is a medieval village built on top of the mountain. It rises very high in the sky and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. What an incredible view. La Turbie is a village also called the "Terrace" of Monaco due to the panoramic view on the Principality. We also saw the "trophy" of the Alps which is a Roman monument built in 7BC. We visited Monaco and Monte Carlo including the old town on "the Rock", the Cathedral and the Princess Grace Memorial, Grand Prix circuit, the Monte Carlo Golden square and the famous Hotel de Paris, and much more.
It turns out that the Monte Carlo Rally was going on that very day. Hundreds of vintage 70's- 80's sports cars ride into Monaco from their native countries. I took a lot of pictures of many of the cars. I almost ran out my battery. Mr. Holler, these pictures are for you! Our tour guide was cool as we were the only two passengers in his Mercedes 8 seat van. So, we had a p1ivate tour.
Other than the extraordinary expense of the surroundings, this is one on of the most spectacular places I have ever seen. We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day in the 60's. The sea is clear and there were many yachts in the water. I cannot imagine how expensive some of those darned things are. If you ever get a chance to see the French Riveria, you must do it. Save your money though. On Tuesday evening, Darlene and I joined our US Cyco reseller peers for dinner at a pizzeria down the street. There was Brian, Andrew and his wife Brooke, Darlene and me. We had a delightful time and boy do we have stories to tell. Mommy dearest was in rare form. Glenn, you will have to get the scoop from Andrew. By the way, the meal only cost us $150.00€ between the five of us. That is about $185.00. Thanks Glenn!.....just kidding. We split it. We walked along the sea back to the hotel in the crisp night air. Unbelievable! I took some cool night shots. We'll see if they come out or not.
Wednesday was a non-eventful travel day for us. We made our trains as planned and prepared this time by purchasing sandwiches before we boarded. That way we could eat lunch and not go hungry. We each had chicken sandwiches (dry) with tomato and lettuce. There remained much snow on the ground but it had warmed considerably. We arrived in Milan at about 3PM and made it to the hotel in about 15 minutes. I took a taxi but it was well within walking distance as it turns out. We really did not do much but sit in the lobby of the hotel. There are no places to sit in our room. This is the worst hotel we've stayed. It is called Hotel Splendida. Not so splendid!
I learned before we left for the trip that I needed to purchase tickets 3 weeks in advance to see the Last Supper painting by DiVinci. I got lucky and was able to book a time) 10: 15AM today. After struggling a bit with the Milan subway system, we made it to Santa Maria delle Grazie; the convent where the painting resides. We rented an English cassette tape which was very interesting as we were viewing the painting.
The 15 minutes we were standing amidst pure genius viewing one of the most famous ORIGINAL paintings ever, was probably the highlight of my trip. I cannot tell you the feelings one gets when, after going through three separate man traps with your 20 or so tour group, the final smoky glass door opens and to your right is the wall where the painting has been preserved. Wow! Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed. It is simply indescribable and breath taking. I look forward to talking to you about it. I did purchase a book that describes the painting and all the restoration work that has been done to it over the years. The painting is actually called the "Cenacolo" which means "Last Supper". The room was protected by light and a filtration system including and elaborate climate control system. I was simply overwhelmed by what I saw. Words simply cannot express my feelings.
We then hopped back on a train to Duomo. This is the center of the city of Milan. We visited two main features and spent the afternoon looking around. The first is the The Gothic Duomo which is the biggest cathedral I have ever seen. It is 515 feet long, and at its widest point, 301 feet across. It was begun in the 14th century but not completed until more than 500 years later. They are still working on sections of it that are in disrepair. This thing is massive. I have lots of pictures from outside and inside. You just stand there in awe.
From there we went to the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is an ornate shopping arcade. This is another architectural wonder. We walked the entire thing. Our footsies are very tired. The roof in the center is glass. We didn't buy a thing. Can you believe that? From here we entered a very large department store (8 levels) attached to the Galleria. It reminded me a bit of the downtown Foley's in Houston only bigger. We browsed around for a while looking at all the unusual merchandise. Again, we did not buy anything. We found a spot on the top floor and sat for about an hour. We might have even caught a cat nap or two during that span. We love watching people. It is certainly a cheap form of entertainment.
My impressions about Milan are not great. I could have spent my 15 minutes with DiVinci and 1eft...that would have made me plenty happy. The town is dirty and unkempt. It actually reminded me a little of Mexico City without all the noisy traffic. Even though the day was sunny, there was always a haze over the city. I suspect most of Italy is probably like this too. I am not sure if l have any desire to come back here except perhaps to see Rome someday. Oh well, I'm glad I got to see it.
This will be my last entry until arriving back in the states. If l can get on a computer in the President's Club in Newark, I might write another entry ... we shall see. This has been a most interesting exploration for Darlene and me. We are glad to have had the opportunity as we would never have done this without heavy persuasion. I suppose I shall close down this entry and get back to the hotel where Darlene sits with her new book in the lobby.
A piu tardi ....... "See you later" .. .