I was sweating trying to run from my school, home, and then to the train station where the bus stop to the airport was. I wasn't able to find the bus stop. I looked for 40 minutes and finally, I found it in the easiest location, right smack in front of Santa Justa Tren Estación. At 12:15pm I loaded on to the over crowded stuffy bus. I watched a girl tear up as she was telling her Spanish boyfriend goodbye.
In the airport I waited in the wrong line, like always. After I asked the counter receptionist, I realized i to stand in the line with 50 people. I only had 35 minutes before my plane was to take off and they closed the gate 30 minutes before. An American guy asked the lady the same question receiving the same answer. He stood behind me in the new l ine only 3 seconds before we started talking. The receptionist told us to cut in front of everyone- and no one said a word as we slipped to the front of the line. Our flight was delayed and we ended up sitting next to each other on the plane. The American, Ricky, sat on my right and the girl crying for her boy earlier sat on my left. Its funny, I remember being so excited that I found a cheaper-than-dirt flight to Italy, but I realized the price measured fairly to the accommodation and service. We walked out to the plane, taking around 10 minutes, then cramming into a seat with barely any leg room. Keep in mind, I'm pretty short. Randy, 6'9", would have come out of that flight with no knee caps...
Ricky and meThe flight lasted two and a half hours and with the delayed take off, I arrived at the airport in Milan at 4:30. The race begins. Giulio's instructions were to take the bus to the center of Milan, and take a metro, two different lines, outside of Milan for him to pick me up. I didn't have a phone, so he said that he got off work at 5:30, but he would wait until 6:30 for me to call him from a public phone and be in the meeting place. The bus ride from the airport to the Centro took 50 minutes- 5:45pm by the time I found a bus and got to the center. He said it only took 15 minutes to the meeting spot, but I was still nervous. I felt as though I was involved in a drug deal!
Ihopped on the green line in the metro, but I realized I was going the wrong direction. By the time I got off found out how to get on the other side of the tracks and got back to the centro, I had waisted so much time, and 15 minutes had ticked by! 6 minutes later I found the stop to switch and hop on the red line. I was literally racing the clock hoping that this guy, whom I've never met, would wait for me. With 20 minutes before 6:30, I was worried I wasn't going to be able to find a public phone; therefore, I asked a younger man standing next to me to borrow his iphone. He dialed the number..the wrong one. He redialed then handed me the phone. Giulio answered and he said he'd meet me in 10 minutes ouside the metro station. The second I handed the phone back to the guy, the subway stopped and he was already half way out the door before I could say "gratzie a mile." It was perfect timing.
I only waited a few minutes before a man in a suit and tie rounded the corner and asked if I was Elise. He took me in his car out to his house which is in Rho, a small town right outside of Milan. He taught me how to make Tiramisu. He also taught me the meaning behind it. The name is Italian, and it actually means "pull me up," which, is fitting because it is made out of coffee, sugar, and more sugar. He told me that the biscuits or cookies, as we would say, were made to soak up coffee and the special biscuits that we used would be extinct, or wouldn't be made anymore, but those still making this tasty dessert, keep the business alive. Afterwards, he showed me how to make Italian homemade pizza. I was loving every second of it!
Giulio and his pizza
This is an interesting day. Giulio woke me up at 8:40 am and by 9 he was driving me to the Centro Tren Estación. It only took around 45 minutes, I decided to walk around and see some of Milan while I wait for Natalie to arrive. Her flight was supposed to get in at 11:30 am and it takes an hour for the bus ride so I told her at 1:15 pm I'd meet her at the big staircase right inside the train station.
Once we were out, he started walking to the Museo del Risorgimento. It was the museum full of Italy's history. They had basically Napoleon's belongings, his clothes, swords, hemets, etc.. Honestly, the whole time I moving as fast as i could through there. This man, Brazzini Enzo, in his sixties, smelled like he had bathed in cigarette smoke. The stench was coming out of his pores and I felt this starting to take over my own scent. I didn't feel safe anyhow with him and I loathed walking by him especially when he lit his next cigarette from the butt of the one he was currently smoking. It was actually exhausting talking in dumb English for someone to understand you. I told him I had to meet Natalie at 12, so we started heading back to the metro.
I bought a metro pass and he had a pass that was for a 24 hour period, but apparently his ticket had expired. He wasn't able to get through. He told me to wait while he went to get a new one, but I took the perfect opportunity to lose him. I told him "nice to meet you! Gratzie! Have a good day!" He couldn't object - there was nothing he could do. He just told me in broken English to "take zee metro on zee right." "Ciao" and I was free!
The afternoon was a drag. I waited outside the train station by the bus stop for Natalie for 3 hours. Then I finally gave up and went to an internet cafe. She had sent me a message at 9 that morning telling me that the ash cloud from the volcano eruption from Iceland cancelled all flights for the entire day. I had waited for nothing!!!!
I decided to call Giulio, but he was busy so he told me to wait until 6:30 and to call him then. It was 3:30 pm at the time. I hadn't eaten lunch so I decided to go to McDonalds. I bought a cheeseburger for a euro! I know how to travel cheaply.. I sat there for an hour writing and looking at my map. These two ladies had been sitting next to me and when they finished their meal, one of them came up to me. She was a Jehovah's witness and she started witnessing to me. She told me about her beliefs, that the trinity is false, etc.. and I argued with her for about 20 minutes, but in the end I told her I would take her stupid false pamphlet so she would leave me alone.
I went down to the metro to check exactly how to get there, and when I was looking at the metro map I met Serkan Avci. His flight had been cancelled because of the ash cloud and he had nothing to do so we decided to go have a good conversation and pass the time.