We have survived our first train experience with no major disasters to date – adulting win! After such a relaxing time in Calonge we headed off to Milan via Geneva. With just five hours in in Switzerland it was more of a taster visit and definitely somewhere I’d love to return to in the future. Before arriving we had made a basic checklist of what we wanted to do, including a walk along lake Geneva and being the keen International Relations student that I am, I dragged Rory out to the United Nations buildings for a picnic lunch. Five hours was simply not enough, the streets are lined with designer shops and tempting restaurants, perfect for a long weekend – not sure if Rory got the hint or not though!
With so many different stops on our interrailing tour of Europe a budget was definitely necessary, yet another disappointment of adulthood, discovering that money certainly does not grow on trees… This being said it is possible to enjoy Milan on a budget, but that does mean avoiding the big labels that dominate the city, my shopping spree in Louis Vuitton would easily have blown the budget of the entire trip!
Limited to window shopping, we managed to stick to our daily limit of €20 each. Admittedly, this does not match the extravagance of Milan but does leave wiggle room for the essentials: ice cream and prosecco. With a little bit of forward planning, with the aid of google maps and tripadvisor it is possible to explore this Italian gem without breaking the bank.
Restaurants in Milan, particularly those in the centre are expensive and one meal for two would have used our €40 in one go. When travelling with Rory this was just not an option, his mum, Emma, lovingly reminded me to ‘feed the monster’ periodically to avoid his hanger! With this in mind we stuck to some supermarket bought brioche for breakfast before heading off to explore the city. Finding ourselves outside of the busy centre and closer to the area around the university lunch was an inexpensive affair; a cappuccino, americano and two pizza pockets set us back just €7.30. Getting our priorities right, two large ice creams at €4 each turned out to be more expensive but we both agreed that they were worth every cent!
After a long day of sightseeing we were keen to try ‘Luini’, a much talked about little bakery that offers both sweet and savoury pastries. We picked up one ham and mozzarella fried panzerroti and one veggie friendly tomato and mozzarella variant for Rory. At just €5.20 for both we enjoyed them whilst listening to buskers by the famous Duomo and quickly decided that given the fact we were well under budget for the day, a beer and a glass of prosecco were in order, I mean it would be rude not to in the home of the bubbles! A pint of beer came to €8 but much better value in my opinion was my very generous glass of prosecco for the same price.
Focusing all of our euros on food and drink we didn’t pay for any tourist attractions, but felt were able to get a good sense of the city by enjoying all the free attractions on offer. For instance, we visited the St Ambrose Basilica and the Sfoza Castle, to name but two. Perhaps the most simple money saving tip that we learnt from our time in Milan is to make use of the water fountains. Located all over the city, filling water bottles at these points were a great way to save particularly as we walked over eight miles in 30 degree heat.
Milan checked off and the Italian adventure continues to Florence. Just another quick stop off before we reach the capital, Rome. After pizza pocket street food and a two hour delay on our train this morning I am craving some carbonara!