Rest Day 6 – Thursday, September 12 – Pavia/Milano
Last night was awful. It was by far my worst sleeping night yet. I was so tired, but I couldn’t sleep. There was some snoring, but mostly it was the bunk beds. I was on the top bunk, and I could feel every little movement from the bottom bunk, and I’m pretty sure it worked vise versa.
I think I slept from 12-2, but that was it. When Marita and Petra got up at 4:45, I moved to Petra’s bunk, but I still couldn’t sleep. The girl on the bottom left, so I kept expecting her to come back at any moment. I started packing up at 6:30. She opened the door around then, but saw I was still here and left again.
So my day started out not great. At least I had been to the train station the day before and I knew what to expect.
I got to the station with plenty of time to spare, but I had to stand on the train the whole way. Luckily it was only about 30 minutes.
I got to the Milano Centrale station, and from there it would have been an hour walk across town to the meeting point. Under different circumstances I might have walked. It would have been a good way to see things. But with my ankle and all the other walking, I didn’t want it risk it.
I decided to take the metro. I got on the green line before I realized I didn’t know what stop I needed to go to. I got off and headed for the purple line for some reason, but after googling I realized I should have just stayed with the green, so I went back.
I bought a 24 hour pass for 7 E. You can use it on any transportation around the city. I thought it was a good idea since I had no idea what else I wanted to see. Turns out I should have just bought two single use tickets, but it’s ok.
I got to the square about 45 minutes early. A guy from something like AA wanted me to sign a petition in solidarity, but I remember reading something about those petitions they try to get foreigners to sign to be sketchy for some reason, but I couldn’t remember why. So I kept asking what the point of me signing was, and he just kept saying solidarity. He moved on.
I wasn’t going to eat breakfast, but I was getting hungry. I went to a cafe across the street to get some food and use the bathroom. The pastries were self serve and didn’t have all the prices listed. I tried to pay for them before I ate, but they said no, after. If they had told me how much they were before I ate them I probably would have changed my mind! They only had a 1.20 E price listed, but the ones I ate were 3 E, plus there was a 1.50 cover. I paid 7.50 for two croissants and a toilet. I definitely felt ripped off.
I found my group at 10 and got that all set up. They have little listening devices so you can hear your guide, but a volume of 1 was just a tad too soft and 2 was way too loud. Super annoying, so I made do with the 1.
So when I had decided I wanted to go to Milan, I ended up on a ticket website and found this walking tour for $76 that included seeing the Last Supper. It was the only option available for seeing it, and the 12th was the only thing available within two weeks. I think I got really lucky. At the ticket office they had a sign saying everything was sold out for two weeks, but people kept going to the window anyway so they just kept repeating, “nothing for two weeks.”
So I had to take this three hour walking, which was really more of a stand around and listen to a guy talk about a lot of things you don’t really care about for 2.5 hours, tour.
We started with the Last Supper. We got 15 minutes in the room with the painting. It made me tear up a bit to see it. It really is impressive. And the story is pretty cool, too. During WWII they took precautions to protect it from bombing or fire. They covered it with sand bags, but if it had actually been bombed it wouldn’t have been protected. One of the walls right next to it was destroyed, but it survived. They have pictures (that I took pictures of) of what it looked like.
They also had before pictures from when it was restored, and it’s really impressive. Leonardo painted it in a way that’s really hard to preserve.
After that he showed us the house across the street where Leonardo stayed. He talked a lot about the patron family and the church next to the convent where it was painted. we looked at the courtyard, but we weren’t allowed to see inside the church.
Then we walked to a castle that we just saw from the outside.
I started having major problems with my back. I normally have issues with my back spasming at home. It was one of my major concerns about doing a Camino. I have to lie down a lot during the day to rest my back. I could neither sit anywhere with a back or lie down, so I was extremely uncomfortable. Plus I really did overdo it with the fast walking yesterday and my ankle is still unhappy with me and slightly swollen. I guess, for some reason, walking with the pack actually helps my back somehow. I thought walking today around the city without my pack might be a bit of a break, but I was really, really uncomfortable and cranky. It was highly unpleasant.
The last picture in this next group is La Scala.
So I really could have left the tour at any time. I could have left right after seeing the Last Supper and gone on to do my own thing. But, it also included tickets for inside the cathedral and skipping the line to get in, but of course, that’s the last stop, so you have to endure everything in the middle. I’d already paid so much I didn’t want to pay more for another entry ticket, so that’s why I stayed.
He took us the long way around to see the Cathedral. He gave us the excuse that the piazza view that everyone sees today isn’t what you would have seen back in the day. We went by two gelato shops, one that has won best gelato in the world for the second year running.
Then we went through the gallery next to the cathedral, and that was pretty cool.
The cathedral is quite impressive. They are working on restoring the outside and it is amazing how much whiter/brighter it is than it used to be. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
This is one of the newer gothic cathedrals and it has HUGE windows. They didn’t let you get close to the altar.
The tour was over and I was hungry and cranky. I decided to find some food and gelato and then decide how I felt. I got poached on the sidewalk for a cafe i was passing and I knew there had to be some hitch. The prices seemed reasonable. I got a carbonara for 13 E, but then she said it was a small and did I want to upgrade it? The menu had said it cost another 4 E, so I said yes. The total was 22 E, so the cover and water must have been a lot. That’s how they get you. So I got ripped off on food today. But I didn’t care. I was hungry.
I went to the best gelato place in the world and got pistachio and cherry. It was very good, but I have no idea if it really deserves that title. The pistachio was certainly the best I’ve had.
I was feeling better, so I decided I wanted to take the cathedral rooftop walk after all. I bought the 10 E ticket for that, then walked up the stairs. It was awesome. I’m definitely glad I did that. It was cool because you could see up close the difference between what they had already restored and what they were working on.
I just headed back to the metro to go home. I got a little confused about where I was going, so I swapped trains when I didn’t need to, but I go where I was going, and I didn’t have to wait long for the train. I had to ask which one was going to Pavia, because none of the signs said Pavia. It’s a stop on the Alessandra route, something like that.
I got back into Pavia right around 4, but it was still a long walk back to the ostello.
I saw a store, so I bought some fruit. I think having a better breakfast tomorrow will help my day go better.
As I was walking to the bridge, I saw Terri. She was just arriving in town, but she’s staying at the other ostello, which is like 3k outside of town. She still had a ways to go.
Today was difficult. I really do need to take a rest day, but staying here longer wouldn’t be restful. But I do think I would have regretted not going to Milan. I don’t regret going, I was just surprised at how badly my body handled it. And I wish I felt better. I know if I can get a few good sleeps I’ll feel a lot better, but I’m not sure when that will happen. The next few options are ostellos.
I left my phone in the room to charge and didn’t take it to dinner, which was a mistake. I thought it would be the same menu from yesterday and the pictures would be the same, but it was entirely different.
I had an amazing shrimp and arugula risotto, then a chicken with mushrooms, and this delicious chocolate cake thing.
I asked the owner for a stamp afterward. It was just his business stamp, but he seemed really pleased to give it. I don’t think he gets asked much. He was very impressed by the other stamps in my credential.