“I’m sorry, I can’t go. I’m flying to Milan this weekend.”
It even sounded glamorous when I sounded it out, Mi-lan! Rebecca and I were headed to Lake Como just north of the fashion capital of the world to soak up the autumn colours.
It sort of started off with a few bumps in the road. We planned to meet at 19:15 to catch the Aerobus to the Barcelona Airport together. Only, I had ended up in Plaça de Catalunya, and Becca in Plaça de Espana. When we eventually got to the airport – we found ourselves at two different terminals. Once reconciled at Terminal C, we boarded our EasyJet plane to Milan.
We descended in the dark, but I could see the city lights shimmer below me. A viscous membrane of mist clung to the cityscape, much like my weather app had predicted.
We moved from the plane to the train and moseyed onwards towards Milan Centrale. Becca had booked us a hostel in the city centre for the nights. We had just one desire: grab a traditional Italian dinner on our way home. We hopped off the train and were left slap-bang in the middle of Milan, at midnight. What could be more romantic?
We took a 2km stroll towards our hostel. Becca, the more advanced traveller, had only a backpack strapped to her back and wore active wear. She was in charge of navigation. I was carrying my backpack and hauling a carryon, which seemed like torture on these cobbled streets.
I marvelled at this city. We passed by Sforzesco Castle, which fortified the night sky. It stands stoically in the centre of the city and has been guarding these parts 1370 AD. As we walked, we kept our eyes open for a pizzeria or restaurant.
We had one major oversight: we are in the gorgeous city of Milan at 1:00 am in the morning.
We searched restaurant after restaurant, alleyway after alleyway, to find the one spot where the kitchen is still open. After several unsuccessful attempts, we stumbled onto Bar Brera. This was the sweet spot, and we were satisfied lounging outside on the chairs strewn on the cobbled road while watching mist twist around the buildings… Breathing in the fog as it twists with the smoke from half-hung cigarettes clinging onto lipstick stained wine-glasses… Diving into the most perfect pasta dish I have ever tasted, and finishing it off with double chocolate ice cream.
The last stretch to the hostel was surreal. We wandered past stilettos and coats stumbling out of bars, swinging Chanel bags. The streets were softly illuminated by orbs hanging delicately over the road. If you stared at them long enough they floated and drifted above the road with a life of their own.
We marched into the sharp light of New Generation Hostel to find a chipper host who struggled to believe I’m from ‘South Africa’. Yes, you colonised us too, Europe.
With our bellies full and our taste buds satisfied, we sunk into a sleepless night, before our next adventure four hours later: Lake Como.