We said goodbye to our short-term family in Parada de Gonta and caught the bus to Porto. It was especially hard saying goodbye to Zero, Jet, Kitty, Womble and Lottie; we started missing them as soon as we left the Quinta.
Although it rained all throughout the one afternoon we were there, we did manage a quick look around the pretty and very hilly city of Porto. We strolled along the port, rode the funicular, shopped for souvenirs and checked out an old bookshop that was featured in one of the Harry Potter movies. We spent the night at the Rivoli Cinema Hostel, another one of Portugal’s excellent hostels (this one won 5th Best Hostel rated on Hostelworld). We would’ve loved to have stayed a few more nights, but Italy beckoned.
The next morning, after a two-hour Ryan Air flight and a lost tin of sardines (confiscated by airport security), we were in sunny Milan-Bergamo. The temperature was 25 degrees Celsius and the air smelled of pizza.
We had one and a half days in Milan before we moved on to Verona to meet our friends, Josil and Davide. We had managed to find a good deal for a hotel room in Milan on Booking.com. Although it’s not great, the hotel is located in a nice residential area just five Metro stops from the city centre.
There are a lot of Asians in Milan – the Indonesian and Malaysian tourists, as well as the Filipino, Indian, Bangladeshi and Chinese immigrants. About one out of three souvenir shops / fruit stalls / mini markets would be manned by smiling Bangladeshis. Although there is something very strange about having a Bangladeshi trying to speak to you in Italian, it amazed us that so many of these guys manage to fare well in distant lands.
Milan is where fashion meets religion. Its beating heart is the Duomo, an imposing cathedral surrounded by designer outlets housed in beautiful old buildings. From Prada to Alexander McQueen, H&M to Gap, Burger King to McDonalds, you can spend hours here just browsing.
Following the recommendation of a friendly local who we sat next to on the flight over, we had ourselves some panzerotti (deep fried folded pizza) at Luini’s. It was so good that we went again the next day.
Having had enough of window shopping, we set out in search of the Santa Maria delle Grazie church to have a look at Leonardo da Vincci’s “The Last Supper” mural. When we finally found the place (after some getting lost and stumbling upon another pretty church) we didn’t get to see the mural as phone reservation was required, and to preserve the mural, only 25 visitors are allowed in every 15 minutes.
We never thought we would do this in Italy, but we ended our Milan stay with cheap and good Chinese food – fried rice, fried noodles, chilli prawns and vegetables with oyster sauce.