Monday, December 04, 2006

Mon, Nov 27 - Milan/Bern

Finally 5am came and I got up and grabbed a bus to the Central Station because the metro doesn’t run that early. The bus was packed so I had to stand and I was one of the only girls on a bus full of sketchy looking guys who burned holes into me with their eyes. I was getting nervous when it was almost 15 mins before the train left and I was still on the bus. I had no clue where to get off; I just knew this bus went by Central Station at some point. Finally, I saw what looked like a station and jumped out. At first I thought it was the wrong station and that I’d have to grab a taxi to Central Station. But to my relief, it was the right one.

I went to the platform area with 10 mins to spare and couldn’t find the train. I thought it would say Milan – Bern on the sign, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I couldn’t find anyone who worked on the platform to ask so I was wandering around trying to figure out which train it was. I finally asked one of the conductor guys I found and he didn’t know but he showed me this chart that had the times and destinations (I don’t know why I hadn’t seen it). I found out what train I had to get and it was on the opposite side of the station, so I ran and ran and guess what? Yep, I just missed it. Fun eh? Got up that early just to miss it anyways! I was not a happy traveler at all. Lol! I must have looked like the most miserable person.

So I had to find a place to exchange my tickets and was told to go to 3 different places before I finally got to the right place and a friendly girl helped me and changed my times (I had to pay a little) and she showed me the tickets and made sure they were the right times and days. That was the first time I felt like I could actually smile since landing in Milan.

I had some time to kill since the next train left at 10:30 (the one I was supposed to take in the first place). So I took the metro to the Duomo. I walked around the streets full of designer clothing stores but nothing was open since it was so early. I went through the Gallaria Vittorio Emanuele ll, a glass covered arcade full of fancy shops and there was a McDonalds in there. I needed comfort food, so I headed for it and found out it was a McCafe instead. I’ve never heard of a McCafe before. It was like Starbucks, just sold coffee drinks and pastrys. I had a latte and pain au chocolat. Mmmmm! I was feeling a lot better at this point.

Once I ate, I explored a bit more and headed to the train station and used an internet café for a bit. Then I hopped on the train and had a great 4 hour ride through the lake Como area and the Alps. It went over bridges, through tunnels, and on the edge of cliffs before we finally stopped in Bern. I was expecting to get a Suisse stamp though and I didn’t get one there either! I was in a bad mood for a while but decided not to let it ruin my whole trip so I just tried to forget about it.

When I got off the train into the station it was busy and full of stores and places to eat. I noticed the floor was covered in confetti and thought there must’ve been a celebration recently. I got some money changed to Suisse Francs and booked a hostel from tourist information.

When I went outside, the confetti was still everywhere. I kept walking to my hostel and noticed kids running around with plastic hammers bopping each other on the head, people wearing weird candy necklaces, and kids throwing confetti on everyone, even me. Something was going on! When I got to my hostel, I asked what was happening and found out it was “Onion Day” and it happens once a year on the last Monday of November.

I stored my luggage and started talking to a girl named Zoe from Australia. We decided to meet up later to see what was going on in the evening with this celebration. I still had the afternoon, so I walked around and checked the city out. The weather was very sunny and clear. Bern is beautiful; I stayed in the old part which has covered walkways, cobble stone roads, fountains, and a few huge clocks. There were markets everywhere because of the celebration too. I had a Bratwurst for a snack and got hit with plastic hammers and confetti the odd time by passing kids. It was a fun atmosphere! There was also a stage set up with lights and blaring music. I think someone was supposed to be performing there later but I didn’t stay for long.

I headed back to the hostel and to get there, you have to walk down a really really steep hill. I got to my room and Zoe was there with 2 other girls from Canada. We all talked for a while and then I left to have a shower. Once we were ready 3 of us headed out for the evening; Jenifer – from Ontario, Zoe, and me. We were going to meet up with a cousin of Zoe’s but got a bit lost. So we ended up walking around for a while and decided to stop at this square full of people. We had a drink and hung out for a bit. It was so crowded in this spot and by this time it was very cold out and me and Jenifer felt like going back to warm up while Zoe stayed out.

It was so nice to lay in bed and read and not have to worry about when to wake up!


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