Tuesday, 23 August 2016

France -> Italy Day Onze/Undici: Shall we dance?

So this brings me to the last post summarising my trip to France, I hope it hasn't been too boring for you, but then I didn't force you to read it all, you psycho. As I type this I'm getting pretty blue because going back to work after a relaxing vacation is always really hard. Anyway...

France -> Italy Day Onze/Undici
Having spent the night in the lovely Hotel B d'arcachon, we awoke bright and early for breakfast buffet at their little hotel cafe. Having walked around the previous evening, we spotted a few shops that we were keen to check out but were closed for the day. We decided to take the gamble and squeeze in a last minute shopping spree at 10am when the shops open, before heading to the airport at around 10.30am. YES. 30 mins of shopping. GO! We were both successful, I bought a pair of sandals and boo bought 2 pairs of sneakers.

Breakfast time!

We headed to the terminal for Easy Jet, bound for Milan, Italy and the drive to Bordeaux from Arcachon took about an hour and it was a relatively pain-free wait, although the terminal is tiny and the cafe was completely full so we just sat around waiting sans food and coffee. The flight back to Milan took about 2 hours, and due to the weird timings, we had to stay in Milan for a night, before flying off the next day. MAD REGRET. We should have stayed longer because boo loves Italian food and I would have liked to have seen more of Milan.

At the Malpensa airport, boo bought two return tickets for the bus that would take us to Centrale Station (our accommodation was nearby). The ride took about an hour, and the gloomy weather also persisted in Milan, sadly. We walked about 10 minute lugging our suitcases to Vitruvio 43 Apartments. This was very strange to me because the serviced apartment we were staying at was located in a large old building which also housed a hotel and a bunch of offices. It's weird to me that a hotel can take up maybe just a floor within a whole building.

Even their train station is baller

Park area near Centrale Station


Anyway, we had some trouble getting in because the doors were locked and visitors had to be buzzed in, but there was no call button for Vitruvio. We ended up going in when some people left the building and then went to a small room the size of a broom closet that had like one desk, a phone, and a scanner, and a lady sitting behind the desk. The building was kind of dark and really old so as she led us to the room in which we'd stay down another corridor, I was thinking, "Omg this is where I die". However, I was pleasantly surprised because when we reached the apartment, the interior was modern, clean and very spacious. Plus, boo said it was like much cheaper than one night in Arcachon so that seems like a steal. Even though, I guess then you have to weigh the fact that you think you might die in the elevator or something. Also, the boo got bitten by mosquitoes that night (we had seen a few in the room) so that was kind of a bummer.

Sorry I hadn't switched on the lights when I took this

While we were advised to take the train, we decided to walk a good half hour or so to the Plaza Duomo. It started getting kind of drizzly and I was beginning to regret suggesting to walk there but as we were on the way past a hotel, we bumped into Nyle Dimarco so that basically made everything better.  Hot celebrity sighting. Yes please. I was in awe, and was doing an internal pig squeal the whole time I was waiting to take a photo with him (he was in conversation with a deaf family and I really wished I knew sign language so I could join in the party because they were all truly pleased to have bumped into him).


Beautiful gothic architecture

At Plaza Duomo, we hit up the hugest Prada store I've ever seen. It was seriously such a beautifully designed store. The store was gigantic, and it was just for the women (the men's section was in a store across the plaza) and it even had abasement level where we made payment. However, I had heard from friends that staff tend to be really unfriendly and this turned out to be true. They were really aloof and barely looked at me when I walked in but I guess it kinda fits the vibe of such a cool place.

Secret basement of wonder

We'd also been advised to go to Rinascente, a department store, where we could buy Italian food produce and wander around. Rinascente was kind of a disappointment to me because I thought it'd be bigger, but the food section seemed surprisingly small, and the ceiling was really low, giving the already crowded place, an even squashier feel. Nonetheless, we stocked up on crazy amounts of olive oil, some cheese, and some truffle oil. Mmmm.

Chocolate shoes, you guys.

After some wandering, we headed for Risoelatte, a 60s style Italian diner that had pretty decent ratings on Trip Advisor. Dinner service apparently opens at 8.30pm and we were starving by then which explains what happened next... Between the two of us, we had FOUR mains, including a mandatory 2 person serving of risoelatte with cheese and speck, tortellini with ricotta, and spaghetti vongole. I really enjoyed the risoelatte and tortellini, but I think no one enjoyed the whole meal more than the boo. In his words (after tucking into the vongole), "mmm... mmm...Divine... Poseidon... King of the sea". 

Yup. Part of the decor. Or maybe the owner's laundry.

Risoelatte - tastes better than it looks

Tortellini yummyness

Poseidon with his winning meal


after meal coffee is a must!

After an extremely filling dinner, we walked towards the train station and took a train from the Plaza back to Centrale Station. The absolute best thing about taking the train was that they allow dogs in the train so I made a friend on the ride back. Absolute heaven.

Hello cutie!

Plaza Duomo in nightfall - even chioer!

A big apple near Centrale Station

The next day we took the bus service early back to Malpensa airport and in the direction towards the airport, but beyond it, was beautiful mountain terrain which really made me miss the Dolomites. The longing to extend the vacation was overwhelming!

So this brings me to the end of the vacation to France and a little of Italy. I hope you've enjoyed reading about this. Can't wait till the next one!

Sad to go byebye
Key learnings:
  • Shops in Arcachon DO open on a Sunday between 10am to 10.30am. YAY!
  • The terminal for Easy Jet in Bordeaux is really small and hard to get a seat at the cafe so go early or go having already had your meal
  • There's kind of a lot of dog poop in Milan so watch your step!
  • The Vitruvio serviced apartment doesn't come with water, and doesn't have an electric kettle so we tried to boil some and it left a really weird film on top of the water so the boo ended up going out and buying mineral water. Bring your own water! 
  • If you want to eat at Risoelatte, if you haven't made a reservation, go early. But if you can't make it early, then make a reservation. We saw the waitress turn away two large groups who looked really sad.
  • As with most places, you can get tax refunds on branded goods, and they help you fill out the forms which you then bring to the airport VAT refund counters. There's a counter before you check in and the queue was phenomenally long. I guess you really have to go early. However, that's really for goods that you intend to check-in. There was a way less long queue at the counter beyond check-in, but I believe that's for items that you have in your hand-carry. Although they didn't end up checking.  
  • Don't forget that you need to go through immigration! So the boo and I went past the security point where we went through the scanners and whatnot and entered the main area filled with shops and food so obviously we started shopping again (we bought over 200 Euro of food from the airport). Then around the time when our gate was closer to closing, we headed towards the gate, and BOOM. Immigration. We forgot that we hadn't even gone through immigration. I had a slight panic attack but it was really efficient and we managed to get onto the plane with some time to spare (although we were one of the last on I think). 
  • Don't buy buffalo mozarella from the airport. It won't last the journey. Trust me.
Thanks for reading!

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