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Milan

When planning a trip according to the cheapest flights available, you sometimes end up going to places you did not expect to visit. Milan turned out to be one of those places. I knew that I wanted to go to Berlin, and I knew that I wanted to go to Valencia after. The only way to do this through Ryan Air was by flying in and out of Milan. Rob had mentioned wanting to visit Italy anyway so it worked out. We arrived on Friday morning and took a bus from the airport to the main train station. We got off just in time to get hit with a rain storm while we wandered around looking for the right bus stop and bus to our couch surfing host’s apartment. It was not a good first impression. Milan is said to be “the most European” city in Italy, I suspect this is just because it is one of the farthest north. The bus ride to the apartment was certainly filled with a diverse crowd and we were after all staying with a Chinese exchange student. Either way, it did not feel like Italy in the way that we were anticipating. We got to Jason’s apartment soaking wet and hungry. We spent the day walking around the neighborhood and hiding in a cafe from another big rain storm, this time with hail too. We decided to get out of the city on Saturday. I found some information about some rock climbing around Lake Como, the third largest lake in Italy, about 45 minutes north by train. So we woke up early and got on the train bound for Varenna. We got their and started walking north along a road, through a couple tunnels and eventually we found a great spot right on the edge of the lake. There was a natural slope down to the water and then a bunch of cliffs around the corner that dropped straight down into deeper water. It turned out to be a great day. We ate while enjoying the view of the mountains and lake. It was probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever climbed. Unfortunately the water was still pretty cold since the lake was fed by the melting mountain snow. By the time we got back to Milan we were exhausted and sore from climbing. The next day we headed into the city to check out some art museums. We spent a couple of hours at the Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna which had a great retrospective exhibition of Tony Oursler’s work. Then we saw some traditional paintings and sculptures by Italian artists. We walked down the street and ran into a crowd that was standing behind barricades on both sides of the street. Then we saw a cyclist speeding down the street with a car following. The crowd all began to clap and we realized there was a bicycle race taking place that went throughout the city. We got back on the metro and headed for the Duomo, which our host told us was amazingly beautiful and very holy. We got their to discover an even larger crowd and the track wrapping around the Duomo complex. It was a little hard to appreciate the architecture with so many cheering fans around so we headed back to the apartment for an early dinner. We spent the next morning preparing for our trip to Valencia and said goodbye to Jason at 2pm when we began our journey back to the airport.

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