Seven cities in 10 days: Part 2

If you’re new to the blog, you might want to check out Part 1 first.

We’re in Paris, where Esteban and I have spent one night recuperating from our flight. Today, we’re getting ready to board the train to Milan.

Day 2: Monday, September 17, 2007

E and I awoke feeling refreshed enough to tackle the problem of our shower. We’d already discovered the day before that the drain was clogged, and that the far-too-long gauze curtain actually caused flooding on the floor.

My brilliant solution was to try to use as weak a water stream as possible. I felt like someone was spitting on me, and it took five minutes to rinse the conditioner out of my hair. And somehow, I still managed to flood the bathroom.

While E got cleaned up, I went to the corner café for my morning java. For one euro and twenty cents I got a cup of coffee so strong that it resembled a puree. …

Back at the hotel, I rejoined E for a recon mission. [We wanted to check out the Grand Nouvel Hotel Opera, which we had booked for our return trip.] … We were greeted by our charming host, who appeared to be 80% moustache. “See you next week,” he said with a smile, “if I’m still alive.” Oh, how I love the French.

We grabbed a quick lunch … and made our way to Gare de Lyon.

Hundreds of people milled about as E and I waited in the wrong line to have our tickets validated. Thank God the loudmouthed tourist behind me had the sense to ask, and that I overheard.

After just a few minutes on the platform, we were on our way to Milan.

The 7-hour trip passed quickly, but the countryside was surprisingly uniform. Aside from a brief foray into the foothills of the alps, the outskirts of France were indistinguishable from Italy.

Here’s what we saw. Mouse over the photos to see captions:

We arrived in Milan at 9:30, long after sunset. My first clue that we were in Italy came from the silhouettes on the train station’s platforms. To a person, they were chatting on cellphones, their arms gesturing wildly.

My second clue came just outside the train station, where E and I trudged past a gantlet of would-be thieves. I could feel their eyes on us, but I was too tired to be intimidated.

The Hotel Florida was clean and welcoming. Esteban squeezed into the shower (quite literally!) for a quick rinse and we went straight to bed. We were glad to have eaten on the train — though we agreed that the lasagna had been dreadful.

Welcome to Milan.

In Part 3, we’ll have a whirlwind tour of Milan. By evening we’ll be in Venice. Stay tuned for more!

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