Can you help an out of work tour guide?

I was working as a tour guide in Sydney until the planes stopped flying. If you are enjoying my blog posts and can afford to toss a bit of coin into my virtual hat – the cost of a coffee or beer, say – that would be a huge help.  I hope you are faring as well as can be expected wherever you are.

A Bicycle Tourist without a Bicycle but in Milano (26 May – Day 2)

I woke for a time around 4am then slept through until 8 am. Very happy with that. After my endless day of travel I think my body would have accepted whatever time I was told it was.

There’s no word of my bags as yet. Laura in Hong Kong says the storms were quite bad and the airport a mess for some time. Presumably thousands of travellers were effected and, perhaps, disassociated from their luggage. It makes sense it would take a few days to sort itself out. I’m told 99% of luggage turns up … I simply have to have some patience.

I walked the 90 minutes from Tornavento to the nearest train station – mostly on a gravel road through the forest then through a town. It was pleasant – if a bit long and hot. Before I left Tornavento I popped into the local bar for an espresso and brioche (a croissant – why the Italians have chosen one French word for this product and we have chosen another is just one of those linguistic mysteries). The two came to 2.30 Euro – which is less than A$4. Travelling is when living in one of the world’s most expensive cities really comes into its own. Anywhere in Sydney the espresso would have been $3 and the croissant probably about the same.

For my first two nights in Milan I am staying with Maria Elena – a host. I make my way to Cornavetto – her working class, multiethnic neighbourhood. She meets me in a park on her lovely old bicycle. She’s had several stolen and this one is meant to say “leave me alone” – it’s a bit rusty and abused, but nice just the same.

Her home is a cute apartment with a nice garden. As she would tell you, the bathroom is particularly weird – long and dark blue with the strangest shower arrangement I’ve ever seen. I can’t even describe it but to say water comes from many places but none are particularly useful.

She works at Milan’s contemporary art museum Museo del Novecento  – which she invited me to visit the following morning. Maria Elena, like me, is a woman of middle age dealing with the ways life can change both unexpectedly and invariably in one’s 40s. I like her quite a bit.

I shop for some clothes to tide me over and take the Metro to the Duomo to begin my life as a tourist. When I come up from the underground and that famous ornate white façade looms over me I check my messages and Laura has found that my bags are still in Hong Kong but set to follow my same route tonight and should be in Milan tomorrow – best news.

Milano – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: One of the world’s oldest shopping malls it was built in the 1860s and named after the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. (
Milano: Snazzy – I know some blokes who would spend a lot of dosh in Milano for these threads.
Watching: In the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

In the evening Maria Elena’s friend Luca comes round to help with some gardening and have dinner. There’s a lot to love about the Couchsurfing experience but the best part is seeing people’s lives and neighbourhoods. We had a lovely, simple evening and it was one I’d never have had staying at a hostel or hotel in the centre of town.

For reasons I don’t quite understand Luca has press credentials and invites me to join him on Sunday for the final of the Giro d’Italia. Yes, of course.

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