My last day in Milano turned out not to be my last day in Milano. I did what I always try never to do before an early morning flight: I went to sleep….. and my alarm only went off once. Crap. When I do get up its 6:30 am and I was supposed to have left for the airport a half hour ago. When I finally get downstairs, Marco (one of the Italians who work at the dorm) calls me a taxi that promptly comes in 5 minutes. I roll my bags out to the street and the driver groans a bit as he puts one and then the other of my dead body bag luggage into the taxi. I ask him how much it is to go to Malpensa airport and he says 90 euro. Crap again.
We then begin our journey at the Bancomat (ATM). Every stupid card I have decides I can’t have any money. CRAP CRAP CRAP. So I tell the driver to take me to Centrale, which is the train station since I only have 17 euro on me. We arrive in less than 10 minutes but the fare is 11 euro. I still can’t decide if I should take the bus which is 7,50 euro and sitting right in front of me, or go inside and take the train all the while dragging my dead body bag luggage. Since I only have 6 Euro left from the taxi and the bancomat is a nature hike away, I go to the ticket counter. Of course they only take cash so I’m outta luck again and I head back to the main area.
Then something is my dimly lit brain remembers that the machines take credit cards and I can purchase a ticket there. At least one thing is going right. Wait… I shouldn’t have thought that. The times for the train don’t coincide very well with my 9:10 am flight. The 7:58 am would still get me there in time but I have to transfer at who knows where and the 8:25 am gets me there 3 minutes after my flight leaves. God Bless America, this is not my day. I decide to take the 8:25 am because I have too much crap to have to transfer to another train, bus, squeaky wheel barrow or whatever mode of transport I have to take to get there. I get my ticket and start rolling towards the walking escalator. I can’t figure out for the life of me why on the up side there are two metal barriers that form a thin walkway you have to squeeze through with your luggage. I am already exhausted and I have two more to go through.
On the second ramp there is an Italian woman planted in the middle of the walk and she aint movin! I finally managed to eek out a Scusa and she turns to the side and indicates for me to pass her. And that point I am getting a little perturbed and I say I have two bags and I can’t go past you! Whether or not she understood my words, I don’t know, nor do I care but she understood my tone because she moved out of the way. Once off the walk I check the board for my train track which turns out to be 3. I start rolling the 2 day walk over to the track. Once there, the train is dark and no one is aboard. I push the little green button on the door and both doors open. I have to load everything on the train a piece at a time and I am freakin’ exhausted already. I settle into the first section by the door and the bathroom. It’s then I decide to try and consolidate some of the mess that I just threw into the bags. Once that little bit of housekeeping is done I relax and wait for the ride to begin.
Once on the road I check the itinerary for my flight and see that I have a 3 hour layover in Germany. I start to feel optimistic about my chances for still making my flight (premature and unrealistic oh and stupid just to give you a preview). At 9:13 am we pull into the station and I am so happy that I don’t have to lift anything I can just roll off the train, Yay!
There’s another escalator and once at the top I almost land on top of my luggage to the annoyance and mixed amusement of the 20 people behind me. How embarrassing. Anyhoo, once I compose myself I head to the board to check which terminal my flight is leaving from. I start rolling toward Terminal 1 and it’s a little dark in the hallway leading to it as well as a thin mist falling from the ceiling. Ok, weird. There’s air conditioning in here, what the hello is the jungle mist for? Weird again, but whateves. As I get closer to the end of the hallway I realize there is no elevator and the escalator is a regular one. CRAPPPPPPP!!! This is bad; I could end up smooshed under one or both of my dead body luggage bags. I am standing there looking frustrated when a nice man comes along and offers to help me with one of my bags.
I give him a heartfelt Grazie mille (Thank you very much) at the top and take off towards my terminal. There is miraculously no one at the counter and I rush up to find out my fate. The nice lady tells me I have to go to another freakin terminal all the way down around the other corner. Great. Destiny postponed. When I round the corner there are three, no make that two lines with 5 or 6 people in either one. Eeenie meenie, catch a bad chick by her toe, uh…. oops I’m listening to Sean and Justin. I settle into the second line and hurry up and wait, and wait and wait. 2 hours later I get to the front of the line and explain to the fabulously friendly guy behind the counter that I missed my flight. He peers at me from behind his glasses and starts taping on his computer.
Ages later as I have grown roots to the floor, he announces to me that it will be $300 Euro to change my ticket and oh by the way I can’t fly out until tomorrow since it’s the 30th and Milan basically shuts down since everyone is off the island. Are you friggin kidding me? I start praying and apologizing inside like I stole something. I tell him I don’t have it, I can’t stay in Milan and some other crap I don’t remember. He’s like, oh well, get a hotel or check another airline. I am pretty sure I am rapidly turning pale at this point. He asks the lady next to him something in Italian and then another man that wanders in the room. No one cares that the little 16 year old looking girl is stuck in Italy. Finally I think the prayer starts kicking in because he stops asking me for money and keeps tapping on his computer until a piece of paper pops out and he gives me some flight information for ummmmm tomorrow morning. Unbelievable. Well I am grateful I didn’t get dragged upside down and shaken for the money but now I have 20 hours to fun and frolic in the airport.
This is vaguely familiar. I have a feeling of distinct déjà vu. In April last year, I was on a from hell with a very not nice person that ended sort of the same way only it was 7 hours in the airport instead of 20. At least I am by myself and don’t have to deal with that again.
I am completely at a loss. What the heck am I supposed to do for 20 hours?………..That’s me walking back and forth like a homeless person trying to figure it out. Oh wait… That’s what I am right now. Good grief. I finally decide to go and stand over by some seats because someone has to get up soon. I remember that I have no makeup on I know I look like I haven’t had any sleep.I’m probably scaring someone or someone’s dog and children right now. I don’t feel like doing it so whatevvs.
Around hour three I spy out a family of four, mom, dad and two cute little girls. The littlest one says Ciao to me and asks me my name. I oblige her, return her Ciao then ask her name. She says something I can’t make out then her mom tells me her name and I’m a little delirious right now so I can’t remember it. The little one asks me how old my children are and her mom assumes I’m not old enough to have any and says something I don’t understand but then I say tre bambini and she gets all excited. The mom and I chat back and forth for awhile and she asks if I’m hungry.
I am screaming YEEESSSS inside as my stomach is devouring itself, but I remain calm and say I’m ok. She proceeds to give me a banana, a juice box and a sweet treat of some sort. I feel well take care of and thank her profusely. Normally I wouldn’t take anything edible from strangers but I’m starving and tired of dragging the bodies around, I guess if I’m gonna die might as well be here. Well then again no scratch that. I wanna live! But I’m eating it anyway.
Hour four. For the love of God why did this happen to me!!!!! Ok breathe. I really have to pee from the water that nice mom gave me. I don’t want to drag the bags to the bathroom but on the other hand I’d like to leave here with everything I came here with the exception of my dignity since I lost that when I fell up the escalator. Ahem, but I digress.
I start thinking a puddle on the floor and yellow white pants aren’t a good look so I ask God to bring me a nice person to watch my bags while I go to the bagno. About 2 minutes later a nice lady shows up and sits down next to me. I ask her per favore and she says si. Yay.
Around hour seven I decide that while I have been here for seven hours I don’t have to continue to look like it so I do my makeup right there. The lady and her husband to the right of me and the children sitting behind me are very amused by this. I don’t care at this point. I am tired, bored to death and tired of sitting.
Poighffydtesyfjgfdhfjghjvj. Oh sorry I think I fell asleep. I think I have developed narcalepsy because I keep falling asleep randomly…
Hour 15 I wake up to desert dry contacts, no blood in my arm as I’ve cut off the circulation and my sleeping area is now completely full with other squatters trying to sleep too. Theres a guy behind me stretched out cold on the floor. I feel a little better now here with a community around me. The airport is full and busy again and animal viewing hours are over. Only two more hours until I can check my bags. And less than four when the plane takes off. I know have to pee again though. Bad. Gonna be doing the dance soon.
The phone is down to 18% and the iPad 15%. Ugh. I have a 3 hour layover in Germany and somebody’s breath is rank over here.
I’ve noted that the men are so much more friendly here. You speak to them and 90% will speak back. The women are mostly rude and annoyed. They only speak in the stores and restaurants, sometimes not even then. All well whatevvs. Maybe if I go back to sleep the bladder problem will subside. I need to escape the foul breath too.
So I take a nap and wake up panicked and sworn I’ve missed the flight. I check my watch and all is well. I really appreciate the effort that Italians make to look presentable not only for themselves but for all those around them too. A little Bella Figura is good for everyone. It promotes beauty, style and present ability for everyone. I decide to put my heels back on for my last few hours in Milano.
5:30 and set off to check in my baggage. The line to check in is redonkulous! As I am making my way through the chaos I faintly hear a woman calling for Frankfurt to come to another counter. Yes, a way out of this mess! I stand in this blessedly short line and the lovely woman at the counter doesn’t even charge me for my second bag. Grace is a beautiful thing! I finally got rid of the dead bodies. I set off to find the tax free counter and decide just to go to the gate because it’s crazy.
Once I check my bags I have to wander down to find the tax free office to get some of my money back on my purchases. Wonder how this will go.
I still feel narcoleptic. I want to sleep so bad but I am not sure I am at the right gate so I am not chancing it. If no one comes to this counter in t minus 5 minuti I am going in search of them! I can’t wait to get back and take a shower, no a bath in my bathroom, get my toes done, get my hair cut and sleep in my bed. Dreaming…..
I got this really cute umbrella in Milan that I adore and I was thinking they might not let me take it on the place because it’s got a rather long sharp point on the end. I’m thinking it was the grace still at work.
So FINALLY on the plane to Germany………JFHJIDJSHFIHhakhfks oh sorry I think I feel asleep again and I think my mouth was open. Geez, this just keeps getting better. Arriving in Germany and again more walking!!! I’m in the A terminal and need to get to the C terminal. I feel like I’m on a two day walk! At least there are walking escalators to help a sista out. It’s at least a mile from the end of the terminal to where I have to get to the C terminal. Then I get a little chuckle on my journey. I have never seen this before. In my life. Smoking stations. People have to stand inside them and smoke. They look like little caged animals. I think that is funny and a great thing; the rest of us shouldn’t have to smoke because you do. You get to smoke and breathe in your own junk! Hahah! They should have these everywhere.
Okay I am still walking and that’s not really funny. Now I have to take a little transport. Then more fargin walking. Are you serious? Yes. When I arrive at the C terminal I am not sure how much more I have to walk and there’s a little sign that says that there’s a free transport. I just decide to walk…and walk….. and walk. Sheesh maybe I should go back. At the end of the hallway before security there’s another one of those smoking cases.
Hehe I guess people need to smoke before and after they board or disembark. Finally I get to my gate at least it’s the first one, I think I’m about to fall out. Seriously..
I finally make it to the terminal, thank God. We start boarding soon after, Hallelujah!!! When I get to my row, it’s empty for now, A few minutes later the family that is sitting in the row in front of me discover that they are in the wrong row and have to move to where I am. It’s a man, wife and their cute little baby. He smiles at me right away, all babies love me!! I am so tired so I put my pillow up on the seat and lean back. Next thing I know I wake up and we are already in the air. Dang, that’s the first time that’s ever happened. Lunch is now being served and my seatmate is kind enough to make sure I get some. I polish it off quickly and go back to sleep. 7 hours later and almost home.
We arrive at the airport and after customs and picking up luggage I am reunited with my two daughters and my mom. Family means so much.
As I reflect back on the last month, I know that this trip has changed me so much. I lived and breathed in another culture for 31 days. I still have mosquito anxiety because I was nearly eaten alive; sometimes I still feel like I am being bitten, even when I’m not. I learned that I am more of myself that I have ever been, that family and friends are the most important things in this life. I am passionate, compassionate, alive and loving every minute of it. I enjoy meeting new people and making friends, delighting in a delicious meal, and taking in a beautiful sunset. I met 22 people who have been attending the same University that I never knew, but now will never forget; they are just as much a part of my experience as the city of Milan, 6 of them became part of my family. I learned that my capacity for love and life is more than I ever could have known.
If you ever have the chance to travel and immerse yourself in a culture, I recommend that you jump in with both feet. It will change you forever!