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ITALY | 36 Beautiful Hours in Milan

by kimberley

It was my second attempt to surprise my boyfriend, hoping that it would go down better than the last (find out about my first failed attempt in Switzerland!). This time, we decided to agree on the dates so he knew we were going away but didn’t know where! Again, my plan was for us to touch down in Milan without him having a clue..

I cocked up again..

I purchased our flights using my BA avios points (cost 15,000 avios + £35pp). But in one simple (stupid) click, my plan went to pieces. See my BA account saves the details of my companions, Oli being my one and only. So when it asked who I was travelling with, I didn’t think anything of it and swiftly ticked the box by his name.

Technology is great, but on this occasion it royally f***ed me. Because linked to Olis name was his frequent flyer number. And linked to this number was his account on the BA app. And before I knew it, ‘your next flight to MILAN on Xx date’ was displayed on his phone. Surprise number 2.. FAILED.

How could I surprise him any further?

So he knew where he was going but presumably, with just me. A couple of our friends thought it would be a great idea to go too and we created a plan so that Oli wouldn’t suspect a thing.

Getting to Milan

There are 3 airports which serve Milan; Malpensa, Linate and Bergamo. Due to avios availability, I was able to book us a flight arriving into Malpensa, which is just over 50km from the city centre. On the other hand, our friends booked their flight arriving into Linate, which is the more convenient of the two, at just 8km away.

Both flights departed from London Heathrow Terminal 5, just 15 minutes apart. We had to ensure that we could get through security and to the gate without us crossing paths, and eventually to the hotel in Milan. With a 5am wake up call, I thought this could be easy. Oli is not a morning person and subsequently I thought he would just passively follow my lead. Oh but not this time. This time, Oli’s blissfully unaware brain was fully awake and determined to try and sabotage our plan.

After a couple of near misses, a complete 180 in our original plan and enough adrenaline to last me a year, we made it to Milan still undetected. Since our friends were one step ahead of us, we decided to unveil our plan to my boyfriend at the hotel; once I received a ‘friendly text’ saying that one of their sisters recommended the roof top terrace, I knew that was where we were meeting.

The Hotel

We chose to stay at the NYX Hotel which was super convenient as it was just around the corner from the main station which we were arriving into from Malpensa. If you are looking for somewhere to stay that isn’t your typical hotel and is quite quirky, then I really recommend NYX. It was bright, contemporary and fun, with retro arcade video games in the lobby and to top it off, we were welcomed with delicious macaroons in our room!

With everything turning out nicely, we checked into our room and dropped off our bags. Conscious that our friends had been waiting a while for us, I suggested that we go and check out the roof terrace asap before heading off to explore the city. Oli was not having any of it. He took one glance out the window at our beautiful view of Milan’s station (which is amazing in itself!) and immediately wanted to explore, a first for him!

After managing to persuade Oli that it would be better to see the roof top terrace in the daylight, rather than at night (duh?), we headed towards the grand reveal. It’s safe to say, I think he was pretty surprised, don’t you think?



Exploring Milan

Once Oli had finally come to terms with the fact we were not alone and had stopped repeating over and over ‘oh my god I’m so surprised!’ we set off to explore the City. To be honest, I hadn’t really done any research about Milan prior to going, which is very unlike me. All I knew about was the Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano), where I had seen an abundance of Instagram photos with influencers dressed head to toe in what I suppose fashion would call the latest. We decided our first bet was to head towards there seeing as this appeared to be Milan’s most iconic spot. And did you ever really go to Milan if you didn’t get a picture at the Duomo?

As we got closer and closer, the streets just got busier and busier. Having previously been to Rome, the one thing I remember very distinctly from there, was just how crowded it was. And Milan was no different. It’s was a bun fight, with people scrambling to get the same shots, prams running over peoples feet, small handbag dogs running between peoples legs and tour groups.

There’s good reason why; before we reached the Duomo we headed into the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is Italy’s oldest shopping centre, built in the late 1800s. The architecture and design of this building is incredible, most notably the glass dome roof.

We fought our way through the crowds and came out to the square; lo and behold the Duomo was standing right in front of us… and I’m not sure if I mentioned before, but there were LOTS of people. Those instagrammers must either have very talented photographers or be pros at Photoshop, because there is no way you’re getting that shot alone. It took multiple attempts to take our pretty average (and heavily edited) picture below, without someone walking in front of us.

By this point we were all starting to get pretty hangry, so we stopped off at one of the restaurants (La Locanda del Gatto Rosso) in the Galleria for lunch; one Aperol spritz and a pizza for me! Whilst it could be considered a ‘tourist trap’, the food and service was pretty good, a little on the pricey side as expected, but had a great buzzy atmosphere (and perfect for people watching!).

We spent the rest of the afternoon meandering through the Milano streets (which were MUCH quieter) and headed towards the Sforzesco Castle which had a pretty water fountain in front of it. We also discovered a very relaxing park behind the castle, Parco Sempione, which was a large green space full of foliage, jogging pathways and a man made lake; it was a great area to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Duomo and we also played a thrilling game of ‘spot the white Levis t-shirt’.

Our evening

After having a refresh at the hotel, we chose to go for dinner locally at a place called Osteria Fara. This was a stereotypical Italian restaurant which had delicious food and attentive service; I would highly recommend. Of course, I had another pizza…

As we had been up since 5.00am, we decided to take advantage of our hotel bar and have a few drinks there rather than search for somewhere in the City. They had a wide selection of creative (strong!) cocktails , and we enjoyed these in their courtyard area which had a couple of gimicky large chairs; they made us look like very small (cute) people. We then discovered their auto camera, similar to a photobooth but without the enclosed walls, and after a few drinks we found it hilarious.. The camera was very delayed and glitchy, meaning we never knew when the picture was going to take, overall enhancing what we found, a very funny experience. Finally, the early start caught up with us and after our nightcaps and enough giggling for one evening, we decided to call it a night.

The next day

With the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky, we started our day by having breakfast at this super cosy and chic cafe called Biancolatte. At the front it looked more like a bakery, offering the most appealing and delicious looking pastries, but as you headed towards the back, they had a sit down service. This is where we tucked into pancakes and croissants with alot of nutella – not the healthiest but tasty nonetheless!

From here, we made our way towards the Navigli canals where we found ourselves in the midst of what looked like a flea market. Hundreds of stalls lined both sides of the waterfront, selling an array of items such as antique furniture, jewellery, vintage clothing and art; it was absolutely heaving but was an incredible sight to see as we strolled down the full stretch on one side of the canal before returning on the other side. After I did some research, I discovered that this was the Naviglo Grande Antique Market which is held on the last Sunday of every month; a good find! Since we had now been in Italy for 24 hours and had yet to consume any gelato, we stopped off for an ice cream along the way to accompany our slow Sunday walk! 

We had to head to the airport late afternoon, so with only a few hours to go, we made the most of the warm weather by finishing off some sight seeing and having lunch al fresco. We were all on the same flight back departing from Linate which is much easier to get to than Malpensa. We caught the shuttle bus which runs from Milan’s central station to the airport every 30 minutes. It costs €5 and has a journey time of just 25 minutes. 

Our trip to Milan was short and sweet. I have never spent a weekend before, just nipping over to mainland Europe for a night . However, it really made us think about how lucky we (us Europeans) are to be able to do this and it is definitely something which I would like to do more of.

“It’s not a holiday. we are just spending the weekend in a different country”

Does anyone agree with this or is it just me?

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