When travel gives you lemons…go to Milan

When you’re planning a multi-country trip, the list of things to organise is long and it’s rare that all of your plans will play nice. This is the blessing and curse of travel. How you choose to take advantage of it is up to you.

Duomo Milan. Read more at www.thewanderbug.com

We were meant to travel from Riomaggiore to Florence, spend a few days there and then travel north to Verona and Venice. We’d planned our journey months in advance, but when it come time to purchase tickets the only train to Florence was at 10pm. We would have checked out of our B&B at 10am with all of our luggage and were planning to spend most of that day in Florence.

Arriving in an unfamiliar city late at night sounded dangerous and also like a waste of money – paying for a night in Florence, but losing a day exploring the city.

Milan Galleria

Our only other option was to change our route to go to Verona & Venice next, but we had to go via Milan. While we couldn’t book a night in Milan (no budget for extra nights, plus we’d already bought plane tickets), we could spend a couple of hours in Milan and still make it to Verona with time in the day for sightseeing and finding our hotel.

We decided to spend 3 hours in Milan in the middle of the day and see the Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls – and easily one of the world’s most beautiful. Like many things in Italy, it is named after the first king of the Kingdom of Italy.

Milan Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Read more at www.thewanderbug.com

Milan Duomo. Read more at www.thewanderbug.com

An annoying situation turned out to be a total gift. This is such a small example, but I trying to keep the saying “Life doesn’t happen to you. Life happens for you,” in mind all the time. I didn’t feel irritated or inconvenienced by the situation anymore, but lucky!

When you’re travelling, the chances of things working out 100% how you’d like are even lower than in your everyday life back home, but with the right attitude you can change minor mishaps into an opportunity to explore more. Keeping an open mind is essential.

It was a big day, with a 4am start and three train trips, but an exciting one!

Milan Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Read more at www.thewanderbug.com

Whirlwind Milan

The Milano Centrale train station is huge and has bag-minding facilities. We left our luggage behind and caught the metro straight to the Duomo. We didn’t have time to walk along the top of the Duomo, like I’d hoped, but I’m still really happy that I was able to see it. It’s absolutely magnificent.

We also wandered around the stunning galleria next door, which is truly beautiful. Travel days are pretty tiring, so we spent our spare 25 minutes enjoying a coffee at an outdoor cafe and watching the world go by.

One of my favourite stress-reducing tips is to take a small activity and do it at a leisurely pace, rather than trying to squeeze a big activity (such as walking the Duomo) into the same stretch of time. Things always take longer than you think they will, and you leave no room for hiccups. If you’re always looking at your watch, you won’t enjoy it anyway!

After recharging at the cafe, I felt much less frazzled then I had earlier that morning.

Milan Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Read more at www.thewanderbug.com

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele Milan

The third highlight of my day was the first good coffee I’d had in three weeks. We’d been trying in vain to find the approximate equivalent of an Australian flat white or latte, with no luck. In Milan, I saw another customer with exactly what I wanted and asked the waiter for the same thing. The answer was obvious – ask for a macchiato. I’m not sure that this would work in France, but I felt silly when I realised how easy it was in Italy! A macchiato is the technical coffee term for a flat white/latte style coffee. The latte just has more milk.

From where we were sitting, I watched bus drivers hawk trips to Bergamo, which turned out to be only a short drive away. My boyfriend was a soccer player in Bergamo for a few years, and I was surprised to see it was so close to Milan. I would have loved to see Bergamo if I’d had time, David says the old town is beautiful. I’ll see it another day, because in that moment it was coffee time!

After a 4am start, I was just about ready to kiss the waiter who brought over my delicious coffee which I’d been craving!

Milan Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Read more at www.thewanderbug.com

I would love to go back and see more of Milan but I’m glad I could see the parts I did because I’m probably not returning to Italy in the next couple of years.  I’ve travelled to my top priority destinations in Italy and next year I want to see more of Asia and the Americas.

We’re really lucky that the trains weren’t running how we’d planned that day, because we saw a tiny piece of a beautiful city we’d have missed out on otherwise. To read more about our trip, read 5 Weeks in France, Italy, Greece & Turkey.

Milan Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Read more at www.thewanderbug.com

What about you? Have you been able to turn any travel lemons into pleasant surprises? Let me know in the comments!

Remember, you can follow Wanderbug on Instagram for daily travel inspiration @wanderbug_world and I have a new email address – shoot your travel questions or just say hello at h e l l o w a n d e r b u g {AT} g m a i l . c o m  Excuse the spacing here, it’s meant to prevent spam bots from picking up my email address!

  • My experience of Milan was almost as brief, I spent a night there and it sounds like you still saw more than I! I booked a ticket to see Muse about 6 months before I even got to Europe, so that was my number 1 priority. That mall looks absolutely gorgeous though. Only in Europe would you find such grandeur.

    • I was lucky, the galleria and duomo are side by side! Seeing Muse in Milan would have been such an awesome experience, how cool! It’s cool to be able to focus on being in the moment with what you’re doing overseas, rather than trying to tick off a bunch of things. It was spectacular, there are so many architectural gems in Europe.

  • Nice that you enjoyed!! Im going to Milan in September for a few days and I for sure visit the shopping mall and the Duomo 🙂 as for your question, yes I once were in the same situation. Every time I go to Brazil to visit my family, my return flight to Germany requires an 8-hour stop in Lisbon, so I always left the airport and visited the center city, always a good idea! I never stayed properly in Lisbon, but every year I spend a few hours there hahaha 😀

    • Enjoy your trip to Milan! 🙂 Wow, thats cool – a free day trip to Portugal every year, how great that you can do that every year 🙂

      • Thank you!! hahaha yes, its great… I found a positive thing about having to stay 8 hours waiting for a flight. What helps is also that Lisbon is small 🙂

  • Pingback: Itinerary: 2 weeks in Italy | WANDERBUG()

  • Pingback: 5 Tips for Planning Holidays on a Budget | WANDERBUG()

  • Pingback: Itinerary: 5 Weeks in France, Italy, Greece & Turkey | THE WANDERBUG()

  • Pingback: When travel gives you lemons..go to Southern USA! | THE WANDERBUG()

  • Pingback: When travel gives you lemons...Go to Southern USA! | The Wanderbug()