The thrill of totally unprepared and totally spontaneous trips is something I’m enjoying this decade. Very few adventures I’ve been on are unplanned- there is something to say about going to another country on limited time and doing the very best things it has to offer in the time you have to do it. Your almost doing yourself a disservice by doing the boring stuff or wasting time.
I’ve always had a habit of researching for hours to do the things I want to do and see and avoid the cliche and overpopulated hotspots- but this trip would be a first. I’m consciously being more open to real spontaneity this year (because lets be real, even spontaneous activities are somewhat planned!).
Both types – the type that involves heart racing I-dont-know-whats-happening-but-whattheheck type nights and also the random untimed strolls and the duno-whats-after-this-but-just-go-with-it type feels. Both give me anxiety, but both are such fun for me.
Milan was a 37-hour improvisation affair. We showed up and we turned out for a weekend of laughs away from the aloof of London. To be frank, I learned I quite enjoy the blasé and spontaneity once in a while.
What we did
26th January was an interesting first. I went to my first football game!
Italy I’ve found, is very famous for its sports teams, so against all my initial protest, I went to go and watch a proper Italian match.
We arrived in Milan in time to see Inter Milan and Cagliari face off at Giuseppe Meazza. I’ve never had an interest in football to a point where I felt compelled to see a match live, but a friend booked the tickets and our early afternoon was set in stone.
Watching a match live and watching it on TV are unbelievably unalike, it’s almost unreal. The energy at a game is fiercely electric. I found myself swept up in the shouting and jumping that was going on and silently observing the sheer size of San-Siro. 70,000 people chanting away and engrossed in delight.
The funniest thing
Im sitting down. Behind me, an endless high pitched shrill is happening. A guy two rows behind me, S-C-R-E-A-M-I-N-G off his nut at the ref for a choice he clearly passionately disagreed with, falls over about 5 steps as he screams- a roly-poly type thing- stood up and continued furiously yelling without so much as dusting himself off.
He is so grossly enraged and so passionately livid that its almost comical to watch. I actually started laughing. I think he even caught me laughing at him as I recorded it, but he didn’t even bat an eyelid. He was a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y blindingly furious, and I couldn’t take my eyes off him for one second. Its almost captivating to see someone so enraged.
I think I found that the most unbelievably entertaining thing I’d seen for a while. You should’ve seen it.
Not yet a lover
The game went on and I learned some things. By the end of it, Inter Milan were held to a third successive 1-1 draw after a loaned Nainggolan scored an equalizer in the second half.
Their title bid to get into the Serie A looked possible when good ol’ Ashley Young set up their goal in the 29th minute; a cross that Martinez met with a header. I remember watching Young when he played for Villa years ago, he’d cross and nutmeg and shoot penalties like it was a breeze. Watching him live was almost nostalgic of those days infront of the TV and dad trying to explain his skills to deaf ears.
We didn’t get the best view of that goal though, sitting in the upper 380’s short side section. By half time, we’d bribed, shoved and mingled our way into the 140 short side seats just behind the touchline. This was fun! My friend almost seemed a pro at this, so i sat back and let them do the work. From here, we watched yellow cards flying about for Inter players, and even a red card for Martinez and the bald goalkeeper. Probably what set off the guy doing roly poly’s down the stairs as he roared.
But what do I know?
I still enjoyed this experience, as much as I thought I wouldn’t.
The game ended, and next on our random adventure was to see something I’d always wanted to explore the inside of.
You can’t go to the fashion capital of the world and not visit the city centre.
The heart of Milan is the enormous Gothic Duomo Cathedral. Tourists, businesspeople and Milanese locals stroll through the main square, Piazza del Duomo, flanked by the 19th-century arcaded Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping mall, and the 18th century Palazzo Reale. Even for a Sunday afternoon, the area was bustling with life and people crowded around as they ate and conversed in the warmth.
We fed pigeons!! I don’t know why that excites me like this, but pigeons in London are notoriously danger territory. You don’t go near them, nor do you touch them. These dupes just needed some popcorn kernels and buckwheat and you’d be fighting them off. It was such a cool little experience having these creatures on my arm and flapping away as they ate.
They’re a lot more lightweight than I expected and a lot stronger in grip. Its free to do in the Plaza if you bring your own pigeon meal, otherwise panhandlers are nearby ready to assist for a small payment. If you try this late afternoon, you’ll most likely have to wait for other people to give it a shot and most times, there is no queue. You just walk up and spread your arms like a human birdfeeder.
and then what i came for…
We explored a little of Italy’s by far oldest active shopping centre, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It’s a FOUR-story double arcade and has this medieval renaissance revival architecture that captures your attention as soon as you step in. Luxury brands and upscale dining adore the floors in every direction, and we find ourselves walking to Louis Vuitton, Prada and Versace.
The Italian staff welcomed us and catered to us attentively, especially in Versace. This lady, Carolina, took us upstairs in this gilded lift round the back and got us trying exclusive items in the back room.
I think she really thought we were impulsively splurging, because more and more exclusive items were coming out. It was probably wrong, but we played into the whole role and egged it on with the exaggerated stories of past lavishes, so I feel sorry for the poor girl who genuinely believed we were purchasing £4,350 worth of good in one sitting. The secret, i might add, is have conversation among yourselves rather than to the staff. Nobody with money is trying to convince staff they have it.
She gives us personal business cards – ofcourse believing we’d return, and she’d make commission. We leave with secret grins.
Il Centro in Arese is an expansive mall with 200 shops- Italian and international brands- about 30 minutes out from our hotel.
An upgraded and relatively affordable version of the Galleria Vittorio, it is the LARGEST shopping complex in Italy and one of the biggest in Europe. Here we splurge on authentic Italian brands and try on clothes as we please.
Here, we shop till our hearts content and when our hands could carry no more, we returned to our vehicle and moseyed off to our hotel.
Its around 8pm now. Its dark. The hotel is quiet. Almost eerily empty. The swimming pool is beautiful, an azure and glittery blue against the black marble walls. Outside is pretty dark, only the pool lights are on and it creates this mystique ambience on this ground floor space.
I do laps in the pool – a stark contrast to Phuket’s trip, and a statement I’m still very proud to say ha-ha! I CAN SWIM. The sauna unclogged my pores, I can feel the dirt leave my skin. Sitting there in the quiet heightens your senses, and you hear your heartbeat and your fingers thump. I come out feeling clean and it’s the perfect way to end the night and slide into fresh sheets.
Some movies and snacks, and time to go home back home crept up on me. Super spontaneous and very random, but very relaxed and needed.
Milano – arrivederci e a presto! 🇮🇹🇮🇹🇮🇹
Read about the halal food spots we found in Milan here!!