I can't say it enough. A major perk of living in London is the quick-access, inexpensive getaway to other European cities. My good friend Mardieh (pronounced ma-dee-ay for non-Liberians) planned a weekend trip in mid-February to Milan to meet up with long-time friends. It was sort of last minute for me to join, but the opportunity seemed too great to pass up. We'd be staying at her friend Nicole's flat-- an African-American originally from Arkansas. Mardieh, Nicole and Linia (who also lives in Milan and I would come to meet later during the trip) all worked in Zambia years ago. Now the three are all P.h.D candidates in London and Milan.
We arrived in Milan Thursday night with just enough time to fall asleep. Nicole arranged for a ride and access to her flat. She was away on business but would return on Saturday. So Mardieh and I were left to our own devices for a day and a half. Public transport was really easy to figure out. Only 8 Euros for a three-day unlimited access to travel by bus, tram, and subway. You can't even go two stops on London Underground for that price!
My Italian friends in London (who are primarily from the South of the country) told me that people from North Italy were not as friendly. So I was expecting the people to be reserved. However, it was the complete opposite. Everyone was nice. Most people spoke English, and even if they didn't speak English, they were very approachable and accommodating. Lots of signs and advertisement were in English as well. We were warned about pickpocketers beforehand and it was very noticeable that most women wore their handbags closely to their chests. Even in some of the posh neighborhoods, women wore their backpacks to the front which made me also weary as we traveled throughout the streets. Nonetheless, there were no incidents and the city appeared relatively safe. We had an evening at the movies to see Black Panther-- social media influence and our love 'for the culture' pushed us to see it opening weekend as well. The movie was in English with Italian subtitles. There was an abrupt pause mid-movie for an intermission. Can you imagine? The movie broke for intermission LOL.
Nicole and Mardieh joined me for mass at the Duomo. This is becoming a new tradition of mine--where I attend mass in the most famous Catholic church in every European city I visit. Mardieh pushed me to reach the highest point of the cathedral ( I have a terrible fear of heights) during the rooftop tour of the cathedral. It has the most stunning view and I am really thankful I had the opportunity to experience it. We ended up meeting two other Liberian-American friends Jewel and Weyatta. Both girls are pursuing postgraduate studies in London and happen to be visiting Milan the same time.
Maybe because the UK is separated by water from the rest of Europe, we don't subscribe to siestas and extremely late dinners (from 9 pm). Mardieh and I tried to do some last minute shopping Monday morning before our evening flight when we learned that most shops didn't open before 2 pm or at all. I can get used to a lot of European cultural norms but 2-3 hour breaks during the day is a little excessive. Apparently, Sunday night is for partying so of course people are not expected to turn up to work on Monday :).
The weekend was spent exploring museums, eating great meals, drinking Prosecco (of course, we're in Italy!), vintage shopping (one of the highlights of the trip), lux shopping, great grown women conversations, and relaxation. All in all... another great 30-something-grown-'girls'-trip!
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Duomo di Milano
The largest church in Italy (St. Peter's Basilica is in the State of Vatican City) This magnificent church took nearly 6 centuries to complete.
Me (left), Nicole (next to random Italian), Mardieh (big natural hair puff) at dinner