14 – Milano, Monaco, Eze

Milano, Italia – Wednesday 8 Ottobre to Friday 10 Ottobre – “More Italian Friends”

I went to Milan this past week to visit my friend Stefano, beginning a huge adventure for myself. I took the train directly from Siena after a disaster of a trip finally made it there 2 hours later than I had planned. First; I got on the wrong bus going to the train station and ended up in Suburbia Siena. Then my train was late to Firenze and I missed my transfer by minutes; followed by the sequential train heading to Milano being a half-hour late; and adding on all this fun my phone ran out of minutes. Luckily Stefano was there waiting at the end of the Platform at the train station. Otherwise I would have felt really bad because I would have been so late. We finally met and had a gret time catching up about my travels. He often reads my blog; which I sincerely apologize to everyone for falling so far behind – its very hard trying to study, find jobs, work on our project, making travel plans, TRAVEL, and stay in shape while eating all this pasta; that last one ruins it alls! So anyways Stefano and I had lots to talk about – we went to a canal area north of the city with lots of bars for a apertif (Happy Hour with large FREE buffets of foods; opposite of the US though; no drink special – just food – a novel idea). This one was really cool, named Bond, a great music. We also only got charged for one drink instead of two so we ended up recieving the American Style Happy Hour anyways, lol. Later we met up with a bunch of his friends for dinner at a very local style eatery with a specialty in Gnocchi,  my favorite Italian dish. I got a spicy almost “Messico” style gnocchi which was awesome. Of course there was Vino, not much English speaking (two didn’t speak much English), so in short it was a great night of learning and practice – as well as hilarious entertainment. We finished the night on the balcony of his parents house; with a few cigars and a twilight sky. Really fun.

The next day Stefano took me around Milano. the first stop was to Castelo Sforzesco; a huge Urban Castle that the noble family lived in (as well as a few other thousand I’m sure). A great mix between Medioevo & Rinsciamento Architecttura. Afterwards we took a walk down this great strada (Italy is full of great walking cities) to the center Duomo where we finally did two things I’ve been dying to do. The first was go to Il Luini; a small but extremely packed shop that sells Panzerotti.  Pazerotti comes in two types; meal & dolce (sweets). In short, its basically fried dough sutffed with meats, cheeses and veggies or sweets/nuts in a “hot pocket” serving size. Its freak’n amazing. I’ve had it on a trip to Milano last year and had heard about it on the Travel Channel’s “Passport to Europe; with Samantha Brown” (whom I would love to marry; she’s the coolest, lol). It was just a great as I remembered. I got a cheese & broccoli stuffed one as well as a caramel and nuts stuffs dolce.  The second thing I’ve never done in Milano was go to the top of the Dumo. After 5 Euro & a whole lots of stairs we made it. It was just as good as its billing. The view from this buttressed/scultpure adorned chiesa was spectular. I can’t even describe it. And its so strange because you can just walk around on the roof, which are these enormous stone panels. Very strange. The Duomo di Milano is so unique for its thousands of sculputures adorning its roof. The quality was amazing! They are all different too to add to the amazement.  After being a tourist, we did a bit of “guardando la finestra” or window shopping, a Milano regular activity. I bought nothing again; but it was fun to look.

That evening we went back to his parents and had a lighter night in; but just as much fun. I ate dinner wtih his parents. His mom was so nervous about what and how much to feed me after hearing I was training for a marathon and seeing how much taller I was than their family. She made so much food; it was great. And being the Steven that I know (I can’t turn down FREE food) I ate so much. She even made me a mushroom filled crepe just for me, because I said I never had had one before. Conversation was great again, mostly in Italian. The are such amazing opportunities for me. I really hope it sticks. We’ll see.

I headed out somewhat early the next morning around rush hour in Milano to meet up with Bryan and Megan from Auburn in Genova to head for Monaco. When I got to the regional to head for Milano it looked like a can sutffed with Sardines. People were litterally hanging out of this car. @ 3 Euro a pop and probably 4,000 people on this train I can’t amagine the profit margin they make in rush hour on the trains. I had to, no joke, take myself and my bag – run full force….jump into the abyss of people while a conductor stuff us in while shutting the door behind me. The smell in there was disgusting…now I know why its important to bring cologne to work in Italy, haha. I met up in Genova rather easily with Bryan and Megan and met two new friends from Toronto, Canada. These two girls are travelling for 4.5 months -wow. They plan to be in Paris next weekend so we swapped phone numbers and e-mail and plan to meet. To really show how small the world is; they were going to Nice, France – where in their hostel was an old Auburn teammate of mine traveling (from Venezuela) abroad as well post-Olympics. They told her of me and she wrote me to inform me of “how international” I was, haha. Krazy.

Monte Carlo, Monaco – Friday 10 Ottobre to Sunday 12 Ottobre – The World’s Second Smallest Country, Old single-ruling family Monarchy – and the search for Principessa Grace!

Monte Carlo – home of the rich & famous, yatchs, gambling and the famous Grand Prix with its “hair-pin” turn. One of the great spectacles in sporting. It also home to a very famous Monarch; with a king who married a movie actress (Grace Kelly), made gambling a lifestyle, and doesn’t require taxes of its civillians (there aren’t many, most are foreigners who live there, while paying their rents and cable/internet bill off casino royalties – ingenious).

We made it to our hotel; thank you to Megan’s mom who got it; otherwise this trip would have never happended. No hostels in this city of luxury. The view was amzing – Monaco is one of these lagoon stye cities pushed up and on the sides of the cliffside mountains bordering the Mediteranean in south France, just west of the Italian border. Half-way up the mountain you enter France. We were like 100 meters into France, lol. We spent our first evening on top of the hotel at its rooftop view. I bought some wine, bread, cheese, and salami in Milano before I left; as I knew we could not afford to eat there. This was so much better. Watching the sunset over Monaco & the Mediteranean while eating and drinking! After the sun went down; we walked down to the ports to check out the yatchs. They were unbelieveable. Some of these things are monsters; and the few sailboats I saw really spurred my ideas to open that Extreme Sailing Vacation venture I’ve talked about. It looks like too much fun. Tired from traveling we called it an early night and hit the sack.

The next morning, I woke really early, did Laundry (FREE at hotels; this is the plus over hostels), got some work done for once on the road, and had a buffet breakfast, thanks to our hotel. The food was so good. Bryan and I even got creative and took some of the bread, meats, and cheeses to make some sandwiches which we packed for Lunch and snuch out in our pockets. Our first stop was to see the Monaco Aquarium, another suggestion from the Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown, who has pretty much dictated my travel schedules and plans, lol; its outsourcing….good business practice. The aquarium was great; but I like all aquariums and am easy to please, another great rooftop view was a good stop for a photo op.

The weather was freak’n amazing so our next stop was to live the life of the luxurious; DOING NOTHING! So we hit the beach; all day….for about 6 hours. The beach was not so sandy but pebbly; so much that you would sink into the pebbles if you went on one foot. I acutally liked it better because you were dirty and gritty afterwards. Tried swimming a bit; but after Bryan and I forgot our goggles and frustrated because the water was so clear; decided to just sunbathe in anger, or relative anger. Actually quite relaxing. We hung out on the pier and did allot of “babe watching.” Lots of talent there! The view again – uncomparable! We took lots of photos; which at some point I hope to get online here or at community.webshots.com/segersc.

That evening we got really dressed up and hit the town. We had heard of a British pub about a mile away; through a rocky tunnel; Views were beautiful again and had some of the best fish & chips I’ve ever had at there. When the lady brought out this gravy boat of tatar sauce I was in heaven. Watched France almost loose a soccer game to Romania. Later we headed towards the infamous Grand Casino; where the last Bond movie was tapped, and designed by the same architect who made the Paris Opera House. This was really interesting; everyone was in Tuxedos making our shirts, ties, and slacks looking like casual street wear. Lambos, Maseratis, Ferraris, and multi-hundred thousand dollar sports cars everywhere like they were a micro-machine toy set. The Art-Deco buildings just added to the scene, and music/lights galore. Very cool. We didn’t enter the Casino; I am an avid non-gambler (won’t jive well with my adictive personality), so we just hung around the area, walked into the lobbies for a view, and tried chatting with locals. It was really fun. And pictures; cause we’re tourists! The next morning we headed back home around noon. But not before I got one more adventure done from Samantha Brown’s list. 

Eze, France – Sunday 12 Ottobre – “The Climb & Descent”

I woke early the Sunday before we left, packed my stuff up, and jumped on the regional train two stops west of Monte Carlo to Eze. I had heard of this amazing Medievo town, with really narrow streets and a priceless view – a must see! So I went. Arriving there at the train station; I forgot one major thing. It’s Sunday morning, the buses don’t run, and with the train station on the waters edge, and the town at the top of an almost 2000 meter mountain – it would be difficult to get there. But then I remembered I’m Steve Segerlin! So I found a map; a hiking route, a bush to hide my bag with everything I owned (I’m also reckless – did I add that) and took off. I had 2 hours to be there and back to make the train to meet up wtih Bryan and Megan in Monaco to head home. Arriving at the foot of the mountain for the hike, found a sign saying “Eze-Village 1 Hr 00 Min!” Gulp! Well I’m committed and took off. In short – I made it there and back; 45 minutes up and 25 minutes down. Got to the town full of sweat, speed walked the village; had a cafe’; lots of photos and videos and took off back down the descent. Views were spectacular and cannot be described as always. I will never forget them for my life. I’ve never witness scenery like this. I also never felt so liberated and free. Steve was literaly “running across Europe.” I think becuase I was running down these trails that were so rustic, untouched and natural, with no-one in sight, and a mostly unihabitated area – but it felt so liberating. It was so cool; I had the biggest smile on my face. Reflecting on how much I have down on this trip so far; for a good price; and even greater value! Also this weekend I had done some many things on my “list” on must-do’s! And looking forward to my next weekend with the famous galleries in Firenze, then Fall break. It was really funny though – this feeling. I hope to have it more. Arriving at the station; I could not figure out how to operate the machine and had to jump on the train. In Europe they barely ever check your tickets; like once in 20 times; so I could only hope. Well like always; when you hope things never happen and I surely got caught! Ugghh! My feeling of liberation quickly ended. My cheap weekend in “luxury” ended. They took 60 Euro’s for my mistake after begging them that I couldn’t operate their French only ticket kiosk. The French could care less. They said they didn’t speak English to me; in perfect English; but seemed to perfectly understand every sentence I was saying. I think they just thought themselves to be to good to speak English to me. But whatever; I brushed it off! It happens I guess. Need to plan more and not go so off the cuff. Should have bought two tickets in the morning when I got my departure. Hard lesson learned. Ironic though, because this weekend I finally finished my book – “The Arrogance of the French; why they don’t like us, and why the feelings mututal.” Lol – I got a good laugh!

 

 

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