Jun. 1st, 2017

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After our afternoon wandering around the old city center, Aaron picked us up at the train station again and we did a little shopping on the way home. Monkey did a bit of clothes shopping while I wandered around the supermarket with Aaron. Sadly, you can't bring cured meats back through customs, so I just got a big wedge of aged Parmesan and several chocolate bars. (One is 99% cacao! I'm interested to see whether it's actually edible, or whether its only use is as an ingredient.) Oh, and some bags of haribo gummies to share with friends.

I always find it interesting to see how everyday things like grocery stores are different in foreign places. I would say that overall, Italy has better produce than we get in the States. (Although apparently you have to inspect root vegetables carefully, as they often go moldy very quickly.) Two "that's foreign!" things: you're supposed to use disposable gloves instead of picking through the vegetables with your bare hands, and you have to weigh what you're buying there in the produce section, print out a sticker with the weight, PLU, and price on it, and stick it to your fruit and veg.

Aaron's truck-driver father-in-law dropped in for a visit that evening, so in addition to an excellent salad and an assortment of meats and cheeses for dinner, we had mici, a kind of caseless sausage, that he brought from Romania and cooked for us. Yum!

So that was Friday; on Saturday we packed up and took the train back to Milan. Our hotel that night was at Malpensa airport, which is way far outside the city limits, so found a place a couple blocks from Milano Centrale to rent a couple storage lockers to put all our stuff in for the afternoon and set off exploring.

We had lunch at a nearby Turkish place, then walked through a busy street market where people were buying mostly clothes for next to nothing. Then we spent a while wandering off-course looking for the nearest Metro station. From there we were able to get to the old city center. We saw the Duomo, which is an amazing, huge, Gothic cathedral. It was very impressive, but we decided that we were content just to look at it from the outside, and not to spend a lot of money and stand in line for hours to go inside. We passed from the plaza through a beautiful 19th-century indoor/outdoor mall, which was exceedingly swank and filled with high-end couture shops, to a less-crowded plaza where we were able to sit down and ponder what to do next.

We decided that we wanted to get away from the very tourist-heavy areas, so we hopped back on the Metro and went to see San'Ambrogio, which is a very old church. The oldest chunk of it was built in the year 386! It's been reconstructed many times since then, of course, and now there are lots of pieces of very old stonework built into the walls around the courtyard. We didn't actually go into the chapel because there was a wedding going on. We wandered about in that neighborhood for a bit, passing by the Museum of Science and Technology, which has built versions of some of da Vinci's sketched inventions. It seemed like another neat place to visit, but we were pretty worn out by that point.

We took the Metro back to Milano Centrale and stopped to get some gelato at a little stand outside the station, which proved to be the best gelato of the whole trip. Jerry had dark chocolate and orange, I think; I had grapefruit. Amazing. (Most flavors of gelato are too sweet for me to want an entire serving, but the citrus flavors are tart enough that I enjoy them. So generally I ended up having a sample of some other flavor and then a scoop of limone.)

We collected our luggage and made our leisurely way back to the station, and after figuring out that you can buy TreNord tickets from the Trenitalia ticket machines, we waited for the Airport Express... on the wrong platform. When we figured that out, we had to RUN to get from Platform 9 to Platform 1. We did manage to get there just barely in time. The train doors closed like ten seconds after we boarded. Whew! But we got ourselves to the airport, found the hotel, checked in, and had time to get dinner at one of the restaurants in the airport food court before turning in for the night, ready to head home.