Consulting, Publishing, Engineering

Family vacation – part 1

Day 1 – Tucson to Dallas to NYC to Milan

Our family went to Europe for vacation this month, and overall, we had a great time! It was pretty rough just getting there – we had to spend a night in Dallas (!); change not just airplanes but airPORTS in New York; and sit for 8.5 hours in coach seats in a fully-loaded plane.

Between Airports

When we arrived (at Malpensa Airport, just outside of Milan), wouldn’t you know it, the first thing we see is a big poster for Disney’s Jonas Brothers movie! I guess some things are more global than others.

Disney is Everywhere! Jonas Brothers sign greets us at Milan\'s Malpensa Airport

Riding the Subway in Milan Just because we were at the airport doesn’t mean we’re done with the “getting there” part, though. The bus from the airport took about 45 minutes to get to downtown Milan, where we had the very convenient Tourist Information Office find us a reasonably-priced hotel. Just another 15 minute walk, and we could finally say “we’re here!”But it was still only 10am, so there was time to do a bit of sightseeing. We took the subway – amazingly easy to navigate, even though we don’t speak any Italian.
The biggest attraction in Milan is the Duomo (or cathedral) – shown here courtesy of WikiMedia Commons license. It was just too big for us to get a good picture!

Turns out, they take the whole “church” thing pretty seriously, and the primary mission of the guard at the gate was to enforce dress code. Heidi was wearing shorts and a halter top, so was NOT allowed to go in! Though there were many Indian women selling sheer scarfs large enough to wrap around as skirts, or drape over shoulders, we decided that the outside of the building was attraction enough for us on Day 1 of our trip. We headed back, but stopped for our first Italian meal at a “Pizzeria OK” – beer and pizza for everyone!

Our first Italian Meal: Pizza and Beer

Day 2 – Milan

The hotel, like all the other hotels for the rest of our trip, included breakfast as part of the room rate. Not surprisingly, it was a “continental” breakfast that consisted mostly of meat, cheese, and rolls. They did bring us coffee (and tea) – but even the regular coffee was in teeny-tiny cups.
Just to be sure that we got the most out of our 24-hour subway passes, we decided to go visit the “Leonardo DaVinci Museum of Science and Technology.” They had lots of interesting things there, and was definitely a hands-on kind of place where they encouraged touching and interaction. The technology part included (as you might expect) a bunch of models that recreated some of DaVinci’s sketches, as well as extensive exhibits on radio and other communication mechanisms. What surprised me the most was that there were also DaVinci artworks all over the place, as well as copies – the picture (below) is of a copy of “The Last Supper” that was actually painted around the year 1600. This worked out pretty well, because we never did get to see the original (you have to book tickets well in advance, and we’re the “winging it” type of travelers).
Tiny coffees

Leonardo DaVinci Museum of Science and Technology Museum of Science, Techology, and ART - copy of \"Last Supper\'

Though we’d probably do it differently now, we had arranged for a rental car starting on Saturday, figuring we’d need the first day just for resting up. The rest of day 2 was used up by getting BACK to Malpensa, waiting for the rental place to open up, finding the car, and then driving back to the hotel in the center of Milan.

Day 3 – Leaving Milan

On the way out of town, we decided to stop at the Castello (Castle!) Sforzesco. It’s huge, with all kinds of interesting exhibits including lots of paintings, wooden and marble sculptures, an Egyptian exhibit, a museum of architecture, and more. Just the building itself was pretty interesting, with cats and peacocks roaming all over the place.


All in all, a lovely visit to a beautiful city…
UNTIL we got back to our rental car. It looked fine from the outside, but it only took about a minute to realize that ALL of our electronics had been stolen while we were in the Castello. IiPods, DVD players, a brand new iPhone, etc. Heidi lost the most, including some brand-name stuff like a Coach bag and Ed Hardy sweatshirt (both of which are appallingly expensive). Guess the thieves had good taste. We managed to find a police station, and explain in guide-book phrases that we’d had a theft. The policemen nodded and pulled out a theft-report form in ENGLISH! Apparently this happens all the time. While I was there, a French couple came in with the same complaint, and got a form that was in French. The officer told me that they usually recovered about 30% of the reported thefts, but I wasn’t holding out much hope. DEFINITELY time to leave Milan!

Police Report

This is the end of part 1 – need more?
Family Vacation Part 2
Family Vacation Part 3
Family Vacation Part 4

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