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Day 5 - Milan, Duomo Di Milano

Updated: Aug 30

Woke this morning to a bit of pain in my left foot, not ideal considering the race coming up in a weeks time... Then again, there hasn't really been anything that has gone well in my training for the race, injuries and covid have really limited my training for the last few months. I took some Ibuprofen and some Panadol and made my way down to the bus station to catch the bus to Milan. Less than a kilometer away from the hotel, so thankfully I didn't have to walk too far.

I got onto the bus and found a nice seat just above the mid way stairwell, when I travelled in Europe last time that's where I liked to sit, so I guess I naturally was just drawn to it. As I sat there a couple of others got on the bus and advised me that I was in their seat, I was suprised as I thought I had checked my ticket and which didn't show an allocated seat, figured it was free for all... Turns out you can actually reserve seats in the booking system. While you may also get one allocated to you, sometimes you don't so you just have to take your chances. I think next time I may just wait until everyone is boarded before I get on to avoid the awkwardness.

We rode in the bus for about 15 minutes before getting stopped at border control, getting out passports checked, I got asked where I was coming from and for some reason my head had gone blank, ai couldn't remember, I said Switzerland, I'm sure he was probably thinking "Duhhh, I know that". Anyhow, I'm still able to type this, so obviously they didn't stop me crossing the border.

The bus to Milan ended up stopping in Chamonix the Start and Finish of the UTMB race, or in my case just the finish as the CCC will be starting in Italy. As we drove toward Chamonix I could see what was obviously Mont Blanc, I mean it's hard not to notice, it towers most mountains in New Zealand, the realisation of what was ahead started to sink in a bit more. Despite the massive heatwave they've been having in Europe, the mountain was still covered with plenty of snow. We reached the tunnel and made our way through it, a massive tunnel going from one side of Mont Blanc to the other exiting on the French/Italian border. Border control collected our passports and then took them away to get scanned and processed I guess... A rather long delay while this was being carried out, I only hope ai don't have this kind of delay in a few days time when I'm planning on taking a ride up the cable car, otherwise I may miss my booking time.

We arrived at a rest stop at 12pm for a half hour break, I popped in and instantly I thought to myself, I'm sure I've been in here before... It looked a lot like one of the rest stops I stopped at last time I was in Europe... I'ld like to think it is, but more than likely they are all setup very similar to each other, only Ronnie the bus driver from my last trip back in 2017 would know the answer if that was the case, I had a look around for something to eat, pretty much all of it was just Lollies, or other crap food. I ended up buying a sandwich, which cost about €4.60, it was so dry and tasteless that I ended up tossing almost the entire thing in the bin, thankfully I had some cashew nuts in my bag which I brought yesterday so was able to snack on some of those.

Arriving in Milan I got off the bus, grabbed my bag and then headed to the train station, after a couple of minutes checking Google maps, I worked out which train to catch to get to my hotel. It was about an 8 minute walk from there, a bit toasty in the mid 30 degree temperatures, and not many spots to catch any shade. Looking at the buildings in the street I'm amazed they are still standing to this day by the age of them, but I guess that's because I come from a country which wasn't even discovered probably until after these buildings were built, therefore I'm use to more modern buildings. The Christchurch Earthquake recovery probably has a lot to do with it as well.

After checking in, I made my way to a pharmacy to get something a little stronger for my foot which was still pretty sore, then it was off to Duomo di Milano. As I came out of the train station, I couldn't believe it, the heat just keeps getting hotter. It would have been nice to get some shade, but being a massive courtyard outside, there was nothing to shade you from the sun.

I made my way down to the ticket office only to be stopped by someone trying to sell me a tour. I wasn't too sure if he was legit, so I said no and asked some at the information desk, they advised me that he wasn't an official one, he just pre buys tickets and then tries to get people like myself to buy them off him and then he pockets all the extra from them. He did a good sell, but I'm always wondering... What's their angle... I went to the proper ticket booth which had me queue for about 10 minutes, not a huge wait at all. I said I wanted to head up onto the roof and then when asked if I wanted to take the stairs of lift, I asked... How many stairs are there, she advised 176, turns out there are actually 256 stairs... I chose the stairs over the lift as it wasn't that many, it also had the added bonus I got to go straight in instead of queueing up as there didn't seem to be many people taking the stairs.

Walking out onto the roof was absolutely stunning, people look inside churches and cathedrals all the time, but not many actually get a chance to go onto the roof of one, the craftsmanship that's been put into all the different statues, a lot of which will never be seen from people on the ground. At the moment it appears they are going through a restoration, so there were parts covered up by scaffolding, I'm not sure if they are just cleaning up the brickwork or actually repairing it, either way... It's going to be a big job. Not surprising really, when you look at it, you have to realise they started building it knowing it would take many many years, in this case nearly 600 years... The building we build today are never planned for something of that timeframe, I couldn't imagine a building even been planned for something of 50 years let along 600.

Needless to say... A lot of photos were taken, but I'm sure there are only a few ones worth keeping, hard to really capture the moment from an actual photo itself. Inside was a lot like all the other Cathedrals and churches I've been into, lots of stainglassed windows, and some of those were massive and made up of multiple stained glass images (will include one or two in the images below).

What was going to be a quick visit to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele ll, a shopping area for those that can afford the high quality products like Prada and Louis Vuitton gear, ended up been an hour so so browsing through the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum. I gotta say, that guy was one bloody smart cookie, the inventions he came up with were crazy, did they all work... No, but he came up with other ideas, he even came up with ideas for submarines. No photos were allowed to be taken there, but I spotted something looking at his painting "The Last Supper" which just got me thinking... They are drinking from glasses like we drink from today. I wouldn't have thought they would have had glasses to drink from back then, I would have thought it would have been clay mugs, wood or metal... I just wouldn't have thought glass would have been used back then like that. Anyhow... I'll have to look that one up as it's going to mess with my mind if I don't.

From there it was a nice walk along the streets back to the hotel... One again, I could have taken the train, but it was nice to take a look at the buildings.

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