Last year I took a trip to Italy with my friend Heike. She is from Germany, but she lives in Florida as I do. She goes home to visit her friends and family every year about the same time I go to Europe to see my boyfriend. We both spend about 2-3 months in Europe at that time so we try to get together at some point and catch up and travel. Last year we planned an Italian getaway on a very low budget. We took 1 week to see some new places we hadn’t been to, and some places we just wanted to see more of.
Being that our budget was dirt cheap we both took RyanAir and met in Milan. I come from London and she from Frankfort. She came in a week earlier and went to Genoa first but then took a train to Milan to meet me. Of course we both have cell phones that are local to our European 2nd homes (England for me and Germany for her) so we figured no problem meeting up at the bus station in Milan. A weeks before our trip Heike got a new cell phone complete with a new number and for some reason I was having trouble reaching her. I kept double checking the number, texting, and emailing. She said she kept doing the same and verifying her new number to me, however the calls never seemed to go through. I don’t know why I thought it would be fixed when I reached Milan but I was sort of surprised when I got there and still couldn’t reach her. The bus station is also the main train station so it was big and busy. I kept looking for Wifi so that I would be able to use Skype, Facebook or What’s App to call her but just couldn’t seem to find any coverage. After about 20 minutes of wandering around we actually managed to fine each other and it turns out – she didn’t know her new phone number after all.
Anyway we had taken turns in getting rooms for this trip so we could split the costs as best as possible. She had asked my budget and I told her $50 – in my mind that meant each – in her’s it was a total amount. So that night in Milan she had picked the room. We were to stay in a room in someone’s apartment, her name was Bruna, and she was located in the city but not really very central. That’s what you get for less then $50 a night. Anyway we managed to navigate our way via subway on to the closest stop to her house and using google directions I had preprinted we fumbled our way to her apartment (ok we also had to stop and ask a few people though none of them seemed to have any clue where her street was located so it wasn’t much help). We got there, ran the buzzer and went up. It was a very large apartment filled with stuff. Shoes were all through the front hall (indicating not to wear yours in the apartment), books were flooding the shelves, magazines all over the coffee table and general clutter was all about. We were led to our room in the back of the apartment (and next to the bathroom we would share with the owner and her son).
It was a nice room. A twin bed with a twin trundle, a table and chairs, the breakfast basket, coffee pot, cups, saucer and napkins (making it a B&B), a ton of brochures and maps (mostly in Italian) showing us the local sites, and a large picture window that opened out onto a yard and a school yard with orchards beyond. For the price it was great, though I wasn’t expecting to live with the owner it was only one night and we were heading out to see the city anyway. We were shown the bathroom, which was standard 1 toilet, 1 shower/tub, 1 large window, 4 towels, 1 bidet and 1 crusty piece of bidet soap sitting atop the tank. We were given a key and that was the last we saw of Bruna. We freshened up, read some brochures and watched the kids in the school yard “helping” three adult men pick apples from the orchard. Then we were ready to go and see Milan.
Milan is a very pretty city. There is a large ornate cathedral and tons of high end shopping, and that was honestly about it. There weren’t even a ton of restaurants, at least not that we saw. But there was shopping, tons of shopping!
Anyway we stayed out till about 11:30 pm as we were kind of shot from the traveling and went back to our room to go to sleep so we could make an early train the next morning. Heike didn’t sleep much, she was having insomnia with tons of stuff on her mind from events that happened since she had arrived in Europe and it was making her sick. I slept like a baby. We got up the next morning and showered and changed and packed up to go. On the way out we encountered a man sleeping on the couch, another descending from an upstairs room and the homeowner’s son. Maybe I wouldn’t have slept so well if I had realize that this place was being run as a boarding house? Now not only was it filled with clutter, it was filled with men? Oh well, on to the next city. We did a bit more sightseeing in Milan (with our luggage in tow) and then took a nice long train ride to Parma.
Read about Parma here!