19. We tried

An Internet connection was all I wanted. I couldn’t find the tourist office, McDonald’s wifi wasn’t working, Starbucks was a zoo. I gave up on that for the time being and said to Keech, well we may as well see some of this city.

Here is the entrance to the famous Galleria, and Morvic, on a group tour with friends from Slunj, Croatia.

McDonald’s was booted out in 2012, after 20 years of slinging BigMacs under the stylish dome of the Galeria. They sued for compensation for the lost lease, but relented when they were offered a prime spot on the main square.

Spoiled scene: the young lady on the left- Now that’s how you dress for Milan! The two blueshirts front and foreground right- ugh. The Saudis have their morality police; couldn’t the Milanese have a fashion police? Me and Harry here would be in the stocks, not a bad tourist attraction in itself.

 

I suppose dressing like this is also fitting for Milan:

Taking a break in front of Allesandro Manzoni.

We came out in the main square again and circled the Duomo. The back side was a little less congested. I gazed high at the stonework of the windows, and Keenan gazed low at the bikes of La Policia Locale 

Very nice but I was hot and sweaty and tired of lugging my crummy backpack, my work briefcase, and a garbage bag full of dirty clothes and hiking boots. I said darn it I’m gonna find a hotel to shower, crank the A/C, and crash. If we couldn’t find a deal in Milan then so be it.

I had to get relief. My condition in Milan is summed-up by this video K took while the jackhammer pounded

 

We were a hop and a skip from the front door of Burger King when I noticed another place called Burger Fun or Burger Crazy. I’m all for local ownership so I asked if they had wifi. In no time Keenan was in heaven with the cheeseburger set, and I looked for lodging.

Milan is a megalopolis of X million and when you filter by price (low to high in case you wondered) you get places that would take a day of subway/bus/train transfers just to get to. There was absolutely nothing facing the main square, with air-conditioning and a veranda under 50 dollars so I gave up and found a place far from Milan and on our route. Sad to leave Milan, but you can see from the pictures that we saw pretty much everything, and this next place would be on the waters of Lake Garda, where K and I could take a cool dip with the sheer faces of the Dolomites looking down on us from three sides, and George Clooney’s villa on the other.

Keenan liked that idea, and the promise of AC. Here,in the Milan subway he exults: 

and not even Justin Bieber could dampen my spirits now 

 

Next: chillin’ with George on Lago di Garda

18. Milan Zoo

Between Vercelli and Alpbach, Austria, we still had to find lodging for three nights. Here is the thing about winging it on vacation- It’s all fine and dandy if you don’t mind sleeping in the the grimy, cooped-up waiting room at Munich Station on Christmas Eve, some time in the 1980s, but if your wife would rather your 13yr. old son not sleep with the bums and drug-addicts, you otta do a little planning. And for crying out loud, don’t come to Milan in August without a plan!

And even with a plan, you might consider Milan during a more tranquil season, like say, the dead of winter. 

We arrive at Milan Central, which is impressive enough: 

But now what? Bag check? Hotel? Get a wifi signal and research your options? If things aren’t certain, you spend a lot of time like this, squatting on a dirty floor, checking train times, calculating how long itl’ll take to sit through the bag check line, re-adjusting plans, finding a place to pee, etc. 

I know, we’ll schlep our bags around town, find a wifi, a bargain pension, shower, leave the bags and see the city. How about asking where the famous Duomo and tourist info center is? Nah, it’s gotta be around the station- that’s how they design these stations, central to all the stuff, right?

The yellow trolley might have taken us there, and K would get a kick…

, as well as the bus or subway, but I’m pretty good at gettin around on instinct. 

After getting lost and seeing some cool buildings in the financial zone, 

…I gave up and got the all day subway card, and spotted Duomo on the map.

Three stops later we made it! 

Here’s a glimpse of the scene:

Here come the newlywed Wongs, Wei-Ho and Suzy. Kal-ar-Majab sees his mark and tells Mustufus to get lost, you got the last Chinese lovebirds, dig? 

Wei-ho, the gallant groom, protects his precious Sui-Lin (Suzy), by taking point position but Kal-ar has seen this move a million times and jumps in deftly.

-Hallo. Dis ees for memory Milan. It is Milan Cateedral memory bracelet. You weya heea. Ees free (until you pay me to stop demanding a donation.)

It’s a piece of woven thread. It comes in different colors but the BurkinaFasonians have discovered that the red-green-yellow-black combination sells best as it’s popular with unwashed, dreadlocked young Brits and Germans wearing sandals who pay the first price you ask.

but Mustufus will have the last laugh, because Suzy ain’t no Shanghai princess. She’s from the mean streets of Kwangpei, where she did three years hard time in People’s Teddy Bear Factory 32J before finding Wei-ho and marrying up, and she knows a piece of crap when she sees one (I’m not talking about Wei-ho).

Kal-ar tries to put the “bracelet” on Suzy’s wrist. Suzy says something that, thanks to Google Translate, is unprintable here, and loses no time on her way to the Coach handbag store, which would be only half the distance if this stupid building weren’t in the way.

Kal-ar takes note of Suzy’s interest. Figures she’s playing hard to get, gives friend M-George Da-HipHop a nudge and cops a little rear-view delight as she marches on by.

 

 While the Africans have the monopoly on the hand-crafted artisanry in this square, it will be an Iraqi who will approach you with the selfie-stick built at Suzy’s old toy factory. Think about it before you say no-thanks, ’cause it will be at least 15 meters before you get another opportunity to buy a selfie-stick.

Behind us there was a McDonald’s, to the left a Starbucks and a sign for a Burger King only 75m away. I didn’t see the KFC but Milan’s gotta have em.

Oh, yeah. And there’s like this church there, too. It’s that pointy thing in the first picture I think.

and as for that free wifi. Free wifi my arsch. Five minutes to get a connection, then agree to terms, then give you and your family’s medical records and bank account numbers, then transfer power of attorney for your 401K to Hesh, Tony Soprano’s lawyer, and then you can use the mini-band wifi, before it craps out in three minutes…free wifi.

 

Next: Escape from Milan!