Tag Archives: Milan

A Weekend in Milan: Critical Mass, Expo and the Giro d’Italia (30 & 31May, Days 6 & 7)

Saturday 30 May

Every May there is a gigantic Critical Mass ride in Rome called the Ciemmona. This year it is being held in Milan – we ride today. I’ve never actually been to a Critical Mass ride and have sort of mixed feelings about them. On the one hand I like the idea of cyclists taking over city streets and asserting their right to them; on the other I don’t like pissing off motorists for the sake of pissing them off. But I was in Milan and Ciemmona was happening… we went and it was fun.

As it was also on a Saturday afternoon rather than the usual weekday peak hour, and it something of a longweekend there wasn’t as much motor traffic as there otherwise might be.

We rode a weaving wandering route through the city. Some riders had music pumping, others were on the city rental bicycles, there were children and tall bikes. A man on an extracycle carrying two kids pulled up to me and said “Your Surly is beautiful” in the most charming accent. It was a lovely moment.

Some of the younger men (mostly) had been drinking and smoking pot as we went and a few hours in there seemed be some agro growing at the edges. Part of Critical Mass is corking roads – so some riders stop in the intersection too prevent cars from coming through as the mass of riders pass. Doing this well requires assertiveness, tact, and humour. But as the afternoon wore on some of these skills seemed to be slipping. A few young male riders got into it with a taxi driver and I felt like I’d had enough.

We spun off for home.

Later we went to Expo – which is to say the World’s Fair. An evening ticket is only five euros rather than a full day for 30. It’s been hugely controversial and deeply opposed by many as a black hole for money that would have been better spent on more long lasting economic investments.

In the time leading up to my visit to Milan I would hear about this Expo and wonder “what do you do there?” I still didn’t know … I had read about it on line and just didn’t get it. I sounded like there were temporary buildings in which various countries advertised themselves. Like a giant travel show you paid to get in to and which lasted months.

And you know what? That’s pretty much exactly what it was. Slovenia provided cycling maps. At Iran you could see platters of pistachios and dates in glass cases. The Haitians permitted visitors to touch beans and rice in burlap bags. As we were there in the evening some pavilions had already closed and only the restaurants were open. So it was also like a giant multi-ethnic, overpriced, food festival. We laughed a lot. I don’t think that was what the organisers intended but laughing at it did make in enjoyable in a way.

Look, I still don’t get it.

Sunday 31 May

I got on the wrong train when I was rushing to meet Luca to go the finish of the Giro d’Italia and ended up halfway to Malpensa Airport (which is to say a long way from where I wanted to be). I was an hour late for our meeting and I felt terrible about it. I didn’t have his number so I couldn’t let him know. He had waited, lovely.

We jumped in his car and dashed across Sunday-Longweekend-quiet streets to the finish line where there was a veritable carnival of sponsors crap. I got goosebumps when I saw the classic pink finishing arch across the road. I was HERE at the GIRO. Wow. Amazing.

We fought through the crowd. Up ahead I spotted an inflated kangaroo in a Saxo Tinkoff strip (for Mick Rogers). Awesome. So awesome.

I was following Luca without knowing where we were going or why. He speaks more English than I do Italian but not a lot. We collected drink samples and biscuits – Esta The and Balocco biscuits to be exact. These two companies have been Giro sponsors for the few years I’ve been watching the race and to finally have them in my hands is a strangely giddy experience. For the record they were sort of average packaged foods.

After a time I followed Luca back to the car and we dashed off again. He chatted with police officers blocking roads, we drove in reverse for several hundred metres, dodged around blockades and parked again. We strode purposefully down the street to arrive at race headquarters where Luca wove his local radio station connections into passes for our entry. Like that I was in the media centre for the Giro d’Italia on the final day of racing. We popped into the media conference room where the stage was set for the post-race interviews. Luca took my picture.

In the room with the working media he said hello to a mate and asked after Australian media and moments later I was saying g’day to Rupert Guinness from the Sydney Morning Herald, our premier cycling journalist. We had a good little chat and suggested we might bump into each other at my Tour de France stage (on 9 July). It was all a little weird and wonderful.

Bolstered by free waters we dashed off again and reached the course just as the race went past on the peloton’s first of six city circuits. There were a few people hanging about but not too many, it was a nice spot I thought. I spotted two guys in riding gear with bicycles watching the race and one was wearing an Australian national championship replica jersey. I strode over and met my first Australians of the trip – Ian and Peter from Newcastle in Italy for a few weeks of riding. Luca needed to get back to the finishing line but I was happy here so I thanked him and said arrivederci.

The Newky boys and I chatted and waited for each passing of the peloton. Luke Durbridge was in a two-man breakaway thirty seconds ahead of the pack and we gave him a good loud Aussie “Carn Luke!” every time past. Riders were tossing water bottles just past us and we all three got one – mine from a Katowsha rider named Alex.

Three weeks earlier I had watched stage one of this race curled on a Sydney couch swathed in jumper and fluffy socks on an autumn’s midnight and here I was on a hot early summer’s afternoon watching those same riders in the same race. Seriously it was as cool as all that. And I mean for that to sound pretty cool.

Afterwards we went for a beer … as Australians meeting abroad are meant to do, and one was really two. They are best mates and have been for years. The one topic they have agreed not to speak of is Lance Armstrong. Which is to say they argue about him all the time like some old married couple rehashing a long established disagreement and one where the positions are so set neither could change their mind even if they had changed their mind. I sided with Peter; Ian wore a yellow plastic bracelet. [CORRECTION: Peter wears the yellow bracelet, I agreed with Ian – but I like them both, just the same.]

A Night at the (Contemporary) Opera (Milano – 29 May, Day 5)

I’ve actually never been to an opera but as I was coming to Milan, home of Teatro della Scala – the spiritual centre of opera, at least Italian opera … I bought a cheap ticket. The opera I was seeing is new – CO2, and about environmental destruction. I went in thinking the show could be bad or good but at least the musicianship and performances would be top class simply because of the venue.

The venue is, of course, amazing. In the way that when one thinks “mountain” one often pictures something perfecting conical and snow capped like Mt Fuji, when one thinks “opera house” – La Scala is like that perfect imaging of such a place. Five tiered with red velvet and gold and chandeliers – spectacular. I had bought a good travelling dress with just such a night in mind and was glad I had. There were some tourists in the standing room areas who hadn’t packed appropriately and, really, if I can put a simple black dress in my panniers you – Mr & Mrs Wheelie Bag Tourists – can do better than jeans and tatty polo shirt. And if you can’t then don’t come to the opera. Just sayin’

The show … well… imagine an Al Gore lecture turned into an opera by a very earnest, creative, bright high school senior who has just wrapped their mind around what we are doing to our one and only home. It would have been a most impressive HSC project. The quality of the performers was higher than an HSC project, as expected – but, yeah, it was weird, lecture-like and, to-me, not saying anything new about the issue. Others seemingly felt different as I overheard two groups of Americans talking: “… and I learned something too”.

In the foyer of Teatro alla Scala

Out into the night I went to wander and wait to hear from my host, Daniella. She and her friend had been attending a talk by a gigolo who had written a book about his experiences. I was to meet them but awaited word of where they were. I went to an extraordinarily popular gelato place and listened to the three Americans – men here for work I’d say – in line in front of me. One was speaking of a visit to Houston where they had been taken by local to the best I-talian restaurant in Texas. “You know it won’t be good when they call it I-talian” says one. “True,” says another “the only places to get good Italian food are Italy and New York.” The others agree and I cringe.

After the opera – San Fedele

Taking the tram to Chinatown to meet Daniella and her friends I look out at the city and think of how Milan is sort of an ugly renunciation of all your expectations of Italy.And I mean that in the best way. Milan is, in many ways, like a city anywhere with these pockets of glorious Italy. I  like it, I really do.

I find Daniella and her friends at a Chinese restaurant drinking Sake (there were Thai options on the menu, too). Milan is a lot further from Asia than Sydney is.

Joy Joy – My Bicycle is Here! Let’s Go See The Last Supper (Milano – 28 May, Day 4)

My bicycle is in Milano! And will be delivered to Maria Elena’s after 2pm. Meanwhile I’ve moved across town to stay with a WarmShowers.org host, Daniella. I’ve a room in the attic of her rambling home in another multicultural neighbourhood but this one to the northwest and near a university. She is an academic, but not at that university, and a sociologist.

Even though I booked my flight to Milan six months ago and managed to remember to book a ticket to La Scala I had forgotten about The Last Supper until a fortnight ago. If you plan ahead you can book a ticket directly for about 7 euro but if you have left it to the last minute (and for The Last Supper two weeks is last-minute) you have to book into a tour. Fortunately I had found one that was “only” 35 or so euro and at 11:15 this morning.

Before I had a few minutes to admire the associated church.

Santa Maria della Grazie
Santa Maria della Grazie

Access to the room is in groups of 30 people for 15 minutes – which for me was both pleasantly uncrowded and sufficient. Our guide provided us with some history and interesting facts about Leonard da Vinci and stuff. None of which have really stuck but you can look them up in you’re keen.

It was, at first, smaller than I expected somehow but that impression faded as I looked at it and our guide pointed out details. A long term restoration project finished sometime in the last decade so now visitors are seeing more of the actual pigment as applied by da Vinci and a more accurate sense of the original colours.

It’s beautiful. Of course. I’m glad to have seen it. I just don’t have much more to say for it but that it’s one of those things which is so a part of our culture’s collective assemblage of images that its quite a strange thing to find oneself before the real thing.

Having gazed upon one of western civilzation’s greatest works in the morning I spent the afternoon putting my bicycle together.

Once assembled I rode off into the streets of Milan on my own bicycle. A bicycle I have been riding for six years in Sydney (mostly – and a few other places in Australia). What an amazing feeling it was – to be on my own vehicle, familiar in every way, on foreign streets. I was riding a few kilometres to meet Daniella and her friends for dinner. The place we met is well a squat, a sort of squat headquarters. The people there had a few years earlier occupied an unused office building in the city for a while and when they were cleared out had claimed this sprawling former abattoir. There was a bar and, eventually, a serve-up of Eritrean stew served on injara. A dj was playing reggae. There was a real mix of people there – various ages from children to the grey-haired, Italians and immigrants.

Daniella, her friends and I sat on the front steps in the warm evening air with our cups of beer and plates of food. Her friends were a pair from a Polyamorous society – he was originally from Mexico but had been living in Milan for seven years.

Again, what I love about being hosted and saying ‘yes’ when invited along … you meet people and go places you never otherwise would.

Sitghtseeing and Staying Patient About My Bicycle (Milan – 27 May – Day 3)

I feel like this is simply my new Normal. Being here, doing this. It’s calm and easy. I don’t feel the need to rush and see this or that – I’m happy to just plod along. I think because I am here on my own and there is no one to share the Wow-ness with there is less Wow-ness. Not that I’m not amazed but … it just is: I am in Milan, sitting in the Duomo, writing this. It’s really fucking big – I think un-capturably big.

In the Duomo – if I couldn’t capture it’s size and scale I tried to capture it as a space for everyday worship.

This morning I was coming into town with Maria Elena and the Metro was broken in some way so we had to take the bus. We ran into a woman Maria Elena knew from her English class. We three travelled together to the Piazza del Duomo chatting in a mix of Italian and English helping one another with the foreign language – praising and correcting with patience. They were particularly pleased with “We are not born as mothers and wives.”

I haven’t travelled on my own in a long time. Even when I have – on short journeys – I think I’ve always felt a pressure (of my own making) to account for my time – a pressure to see and do in a way that I am not feeling now. I enjoy just wandering around and being.

My bicycle is still en route – the other bag has arrived in Milan but the bicycle is still in London but will hopefully arrive tonight. Although I am moving to Daniella’s tomorrow Maria Elena has said I can take delivery at her place – which is very nice of her.

Having spoken again with the bag people – here’s the frustration: they put these scannable tags on our bags when we check them in, one might think they use those and scan our bags as they move around the system and that information would be stored centrally so that when a passenger become disassociated with their luggage they can tell you where it was last scanned and where it is heading. But no. The call centre is dependent on workers at various airports putting information into the system. So Laura – calling British Airway workers in Hong Kong, and Vickianne – calling Qantas workers in Sydney – could tell me more than the call centre in Rome. It’s coming, it’s coming – patience.

Duomo
Duomo
Milano
Duomo shadow self-portrait

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 Couchsurfing.com 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. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galleria_Vittorio_Emanuele_II)
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.

Tornavento – a soft landing after a long journey (25 May – Day 1)

Having flown for something like 32 of 34 hours I arrived finally at Malpensa Airport on the outskirts of Milan with nothing but my carry -on – fortunately, having expected an overnight in Doha, I had some clothes and toiletries.

My first stop was the lost luggage office to file the paperwork which would encourage them to find and deliver to me my luggage. Another passenger in the office, from Ukraine, had put his bag on a moving conveyor belt without having checked it in so it was now lost someplace in the bowels of the airport and could take days to find. He couldn’t fly on without it as he had a carnet for work equipment in the bag. Wow … now that is some kind of stupid.

As I was in a state of disorientation and had become a creature of flight over the past day plus it took me about two hours to escape Malpensa. In the end I’d waited just long enough that my Air BnB host, Federica, was able to collect me during her lunch break.

I had booked in to her place near the airport in anticipation of, you know, having my bicycle. I planned on assembling my bike at the airport and riding the 5 kilometres to her place today and the 40 or so km into Milan tomorrow.

Even without the bicycle the decision proved fortuitous. The apartment is in  Tornavento – a bit of a freestanding outer suburb with a few cute village touches. After all the flying having someplace simple and quiet to recover was spot on. I had lunch at the pub on the piazza, showered and went for a walk in Parco Ticino. In the evening I made a simple dinner and was asleep by 9 pm.

Pranzo in Tornavento
First Italian Gelato
Tornavento Church
Women Riding in Tornavento: This old road through forest is part of Parco Ticino and has historical associations with World War II.
Late Arvo in Tornavento: But for the haze on the horizon there would be a mountain view from this piazza.

Malpensa to Tornavento

Click to enlarge map

Leaving Australia – Flying Forever – Arriving Finally in Milan

I write from seat 70J of Qantas Flight 127 halfway through the first leg of my three-legged journey to Milan.

We are somewhere over the Arafura Sea, perhaps – my last view of Australia passed across the portal some time ago. It was a beautiful view of reddish earth and worming watercourses meeting the blue of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Gulf of Carpentaria

I’m listening to Blue Sky Mine on the in-flight entertainment system –

I could not believe the stars of Warburton were waiting for me.

Those stars will appear tonight in their dense wondrous clusters over that remote Western Desert hamlet. As they will tomorrow. And the next night and the next; as I lay beneath a northern sky.

I’m excited and tired. I feel both the warm bolstering support of my mates and a little pressure to have the trip they expect – a pressure that is all me, not them. I am on the verge of a year of days – each of which stands on its own, clearly separated from its neighbours both by being actually different and through a sort of presence that comes with dealing with New all the time and of solving problems as matter of course. I feel like I’m going to thrive, be super present, be in my element, use my strengths, do things I like doing … all that good stuff. That’s how I feel about it but I fear weighing the thing down with expectations.

This day came as it always would with a last final rush of disbelief and a mistaken fear that I am unprepared. I am deeply ridiculously prepared. I have, in someways, been thinking about this trip since I was a teenager and in practical terms I’ve been planning for nearly a year and a half.

From early on I wanted it to be an organic journey – something I made up, more or less, as I went, with certain anchor points to aim for. That’s pretty much how it’s looking right now – I have plans for this coming week in Milan, some ideas of which direction I’ll point my bicycle in the coming weeks but nothing solid, and a ferry ticket from Le Havre to Portsmith on 9 July. I’m uncomfortable with not having sorted the first week or two of riding but recognise it is as it should be. That making it up as I go holds the life of the thing. Discomfort can be a creative energy.

I fell into conversation with my seat neighbour. We came to speak of my relationship with Australia. I spoke of the waves of Australian cultural exports which reached me in 1980s America which included Midnight Oil. He mentioned their street gig in New York. Which I was able to say was 25 years ago today because Jim had said so an hour earlier.

 

You know, I’m not generally a name dropper but he’s like how did you know that … we spoke of the Oils and other Australian music as Sydney disappeared from view.

Wait … what? I was going to Hong Kong (diverted due to weather to Manila – how my already long day became monumental).

I’m sitting on the tarmac in Manila watching episode one of season seven of Mad Men. A storm in Hong Kong had us diverted – the smidge of compensation was a beautiful sunset illuminating great walls of curvaceous clouds. But this is going to be one very long day. When we do take off it will be nearly 90 minutes back to Hong Kong and then who knows what will happen there with my onward flight to Doha. It’s an adventure.

To the credit of the customer service people in Hong Kong we Doha-bound passengers were efficiently gathered and rushed across the airport to join a flight just before it took off. To London.

There comes a point when being on an airplane almost becomes the totality of one’s reality. Right now I’ve been on board for 23 of the last 24 hours with nearly four and half more on this flight, a two-hour turn around at London then whatever it will be to Milan.

I’ve slept and watched a few movies. My newish attitude toward long-haul flights that it’s just time; this attitude is being tested but has mostly held sway. To say I’m glad that my next scheduled flight isn’t until October is a huge understatement.

As I was originally scheduled to have a nine-hour layover in Doha (oh how I long for that missed hotel room) I will arrive in Milan at pretty much the same time as originally scheduled. My luggage – that is my bicycle – well, I know it’s not on this flight. Nothing to be done about it right now so I can’t worry too much. Hopefully I’ll have time in London to talk to Qantas and find out where it is and when I might expect it in Milan. I’ll be there all week and I have travel insurance.

We’re flying over early Monday morning Russia.

Trying to see some sort of positives ….

  • This day and a half in the deadening void of economy flights will serve as a hard full-stop between before and after. It’s a hard double return on the page breaking up the getting ready from the going.
  • I’ll hopefully get to ask questions about my luggage to native-English speaking Qantas staff.
  • I’m accidentally following the most-common traditional path of Australian gap-year takers: Sydney to Hong Kong to London.
  • The last time I went to Europe for open-ended travel – when I was a 19-year-old with a Eurail pass – I flew into London.
  • My first international flight landed at Heathrow, too.

Might try to sleep some more. Four hours to London.

….

And now, in the final leg of this very very very very very long long day of travel here I am in seat 13A on a British Airways flight from Heathrow to Milan – Malpensa. Were it clear I would be looking at France down there.

Our approach into London came in right over the city – and even after all the travel I had to smile at the totally unexpected view: Tower Bridge! The London Eye! The House of Parliament and Big Ben! Yeah … wow. The Thames, brown sinuous silvery.

Um, London? I wasn’t supposed to see you until like July. But whoa – hey, look Tower Bridge.
And the Houses of Parliament! Big Ben! The London Eye!

All things considered I was doing pretty well and still in good spirits right until I dealt with a British Airways customer service representative who greeted me with an accusative and unsympathetic tone.

The first guy I spoke was pleasant and easy to deal with but he couldn’t help with my question about baggage and sent me to another counter. There, I began by saying I’d been flying for 27 out the last 28 hours and asked for her to bear with me – I’m a little out of sorts. I explained my situation and provided all the paperwork I could. She looks my details up on the computer says, not asks, that I’ve come in on a Virgin flight, not BA. No, I assure her I’ve just disembarked from the British Airway flight from Hong Kong. She tells me the computer says I was on a Virgin flight not a BA flight …. Well, um, I wasn’t. That sort of set the tone.

She looked at my onward paperwork and told me the people in Hong Kong hadn’t done it right – not with any, you know, charm or humour but like I had something to do with that. “If I ever see them again I’ll be sure to let them know.” She issued my next boarding pass and said I was done. And my luggage? I said – she said she’d added it to the system but couldn’t tell me more and to ask at the gate.

As I was putting my paperwork away she noticed a docket I was given in HK – which I had shown her earlier to her disinterest – and she says “You didn’t give me this.” A regular charmer she was, definitely the right person for customer service.

After leaving her I had a little, you know, total meltdown. Head in hands, weeping, struggling to breathe evenly. Eventually moving from general view to the limited audience of the ladies. There, someone, a worker of some sort, asked if I was okay – she was the only one who did. I thanked her for asking, explained why I was so out of sorts and assured her I’d be okay. It was then that I also realised that I felt like I was still on an aeroplane – you know feeling the movement.

Luckily the people at the gate were much more friendly, sympathetic, and helpful – they at least were able to tell me that my bags weren’t at Heathrow and were last in the system in Hong Kong. She assured me that they would be following me and that, generally, they put them on the next, most direct, route to one’s final destination. So we’ll see what they say in Milan.

In the meantime I had been using the free WiFi to message Jim and Vickianne asking them to ring Qantas in Sydney and see if they could learn anything. Unfortunately I finally got a reply from Jim as I lost signal joining the bus to the Milan-bound plane.

Boarding, I asked the flight attendants for water and if they could tell me who won Eurovision. They had been voting when I boarded in Sydney and I hadn’t been able to learn during my long, long, long day. Sweden, the favourites – had taken it out. One more win and they will either tie or move past Ireland for most winners. Guy Sebastian had come fifth: which – especially in my state – made me rather Aussie proud.

They showed the safety video first in English, then in Italian – I listened, recognised a few words, and was struck in a way by the reality of this journey. I think that moment marked the transition from this buffering void of tin-can travel to the beginning of my actual journey.

I wanted to say something of the final days in Sydney … of the way, in the end, it rushed up to greet me. That I was prepared but not quite as ready as I hoped. But still got out on Saturday afternoon to soak up something of the city. Earlier I’d run some errands at Burwood – I’d bought a luggage scale …

HOLY FUCK – THE ALPS!

… and had a final coffee from George at Mrs P’s – my final Australian piccolo for the year.

I went home and sorted the packing and felt I was in a pretty good place with it. Went to the city and rode the Manly Ferry over and back. Getting at times a bit emotional about it but resolved to just be in it, with it, enjoy the view, the rise and fall of the swell, the throb of the engines. Coming back with the Vivid lights – it was really good.

I promised myself that later I would let myself just feel what I felt and not push it away.

I’d hoped to meet Erin and Jonathan at Hart’s but they had pushed back their meeting time too late for me – I got the bus home, began disassembling the bicycle. Jim arrived with bad but necessary pizzas, red wine and a willingness to help or simply keep company. Not long after Vickianne came home. The Rocky Horror Picture Show was on SBS – Jim had never seen it. NEVER SEEN IT.

We were done around 1:30 or 2:00 and then I wept, I let myself feel what I was feeling – what was it exactly? It wasn’t fear or worry that made me weep. It was a certain sadness … a sadness at leaving Sydney for so long, for leaving my friends for so long – a sadness that was real and unassuaged by my joy and excitement for the trip itself. Maybe a touch of sadness too that … while everything has long since been done and over with Mitch that my leaving for this solo mid-life gap year is a hard mark between before and after.

….

I’ve been at Malpensa for two hours. Finding it strangely hard to break orbit from the flying world. My bags are … someplace and I’ve filed the paperwork to encourage them to find them and deliver them to me. I’ve bought a SIM and await its activation. I’ve had an espresso and a donut.

 

Screenshot 2017-12-07 07.49.15 (2)