26.05.2015 - 27.05.2015
We left the Albisola Superiore train station heading to Milan on Tuesday afternoon. During our train ride to Milan, some young guy starts yelling. He's on a phone having a loud and passionate argument, or perhaps a romantic meltdown. Naturally I get a little uncomfortable and say to George, "I might move to the next car." George says, "Stay here, don't worry it does not seem like a threatening situation."
I look behind me and see an older woman, who is possible the guy's mother sitting a few rows behind me. She talks to him seemingly to calm him down. However; he starts up again, on the phone yelling and moves to the next car, or the door between cars and we can still hear him arguing with Alessandra. This time it's anger and sounds of despair. Italy is a different culture and maybe this is no cause for alarm on my part. After all, I'm just over-hearing a passionate argument on a phone. If I were on this train in the U.S. I would definitely be more nervous because I'd fear this enraged guy, might be mentally unstable, might have a gun, and decide to shoot innocent fellow travelers just trying to get to their next destination. Frankly, George was impressed that the guy's voice carried that long without getting hoarse.
(Unicyclist Juggler in Milan traffic)
In Milan we schlep to our hotel a few blocks from the train station on a quieter street. We decide to head back to the train station and buy our tickets for the following day to Padua in advance. This is a busy train station. George takes a number. We observe these guys of different ages and ethnicity, and dress (from nice clothes, to casual, to torn pants) who approach travelers and help them use the ticket machines. They do not work for Trenitalia. They just try and get people to use the machines in exchange for a tip, or the change from a cash sale. They also sweep their hand through the change return slot on a regular basis. The give-away for us was when the police come through, they scatter, only to return a few minutes later. A good number of people just brushed them aside and used the machines on their own.
It is definitely faster to use the ticket machines, but if you pay with credit card a pin number is required. Nearly two hours later our number is called. At the ticket counter we purchase the tickets for Padua, and we can't get out of this large, old, beautiful train station fast enough.
(Look, a Moleskine store in the train station!)
We get outside and it starts to rain and we dodge three different guys trying to sell us an umbrella. The rain started getting a little heavier so we stopped for dinner at this Italian and Asian restaurant. By the time we finish the rain has stopped. We walk off our dinner a little, pick up a bottle of wine, and head back to the hotel. We sit on on the small balcony enjoying a cup of wine while the clouds grow thick and gray.
We begin to see flashes of lightening, and then actual lightening bolts, we hear thunder and think this is an electrical storm. The rain eventually returns heavily. It was fierce, but not terribly long. Just another unexpected storm.
The next morning is calm, clear, and the sun is out. Upon in arrival in Milan, we learned Milan is hosting the Universal Expo this year (May 1 - Oct 31), and decided to go check it out since we've never been to one. We continue to learn of rare exhibitions or events only when we arrive in new destinations! We take the metro and manage to get to the Universal Expo when it opens at 10am.
It's like a huge international convention. The theme this year is food & sustainability "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life". We only had five hours, not nearly enough time. We saw what we could, and were impressed with some of the installations, especially Israel with their 'Vertical Field'. There were some gorgeous displays in a variety of materials and mediums.
It was educational.
There was also a few 'Technogyms'
We agreed that the installation from the U.S. was non-impressive. Aside from hearing a recording of President Obama, it was video screens of nothing we stayed to watch, and nothing else to experience or engage in. Yes, a lot of countries had video components but with some tangible or different visual elements as well.
There was a 'Supermarket of the future'
Overall, a great experience and definitely plan to spend the whole day if you go.
That was all we had time for. Next stop: Padua Italy.