Part 6: Milan
James: On Monday, 11/19 we took a six hour train ride back to Milan. The train was full, and a little late, but otherwise no problem. A long day though. We got a simple one star hotel room for $40 near the train station. We ate at Brek's and checked some e-mail, then went to bed. Milan turned out to be the city we had been dreading in Rome. It was characterless, congested, smoggy, and difficult to see on foot. In the 4th century, it was the capitol of the eastern Roman Empire, but nearly all traces of Roman buildings or life are gone, giving it a modern, industrial, and ugly feel. The next day we walked around town (it was sunny, but cold), and saw the huge gothic Duomo, the Galleria, and an excellent archeology museum (with great Greek painted ceramics), but is wasn't especially enjoyable. The food and gelato was good though. Milan wasn't that bad; it's just that after Rome, it was somewhat of a let down.
Everywhere we went in Milan (and much of Italy), people had pet dogs with them. They were mostly small and cute, but we also saw many German Shepards. They walk them on the city streets, and take them into cafes and bars, or leave them (often without a leash) outside a store or restaurant. We even saw one dog playing catch on the old cobbled streets with a ball. In Milan, they had a large park where many people were walking or playing with there dogs. They always made us smile.
The other thing we saw everywhere, even more than dogs, were couples kissing and making out in public. It would be hard to throw a rock in Italy and not hit some young (or older) couple in a passionate embrace. Many of them appeared to be attached at the mouth, or groping. And the Italian women are very sexy and dress so fashionably! WOW! What is it about Italy?
On Wednesday, 11/21, we took a shuttle bus to the airport for the final trip home. We were missing our home and Kitty by now, and were looking forward to returning. We got a kick out of watching the dogs at work at the airport. I wonder why bomb-sniffing dogs are so happy and friendly? We saw the dog at the airport standing on his hind legs drinking water from a large tub in a utility room. After 20 days together night and day, we were starting to get on each other's nerves. She even managed to lock herself in the bathroom in the airport and had to call for help (I could hear her in the men's room - "Yep, that's my wife"). I was trying to decide whether to get the jaws-of-life or send in the bomb-dog, when someone let her out. Why do these things only happen to Rachel?
Rachel: I should have been suspicious when the bathroom stall I entered had a large hole kicked into the bottom. Obviously, others had had trouble getting out.
After an 8 hr 45 min flight from Milan, we finally touched down in Newark. When we deplaned, the first Americans to greet us were these big beautiful black women in bright red jackets directing people to various customs and immigrations lines. I was so happy to see their beautiful faces, I could have just hugged them all! After being up nearly 24 hours straight, we were finally home!