Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
33Trip End May 23, 2012
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We catch the same SNCF train as yesterday and ride in a packed train along the coast via Monaco to Ventimiglia on the Italian border. A change of platforms delivers us to our last train for this adventure... a comfortable 9-carriage Trenitalia train to Milan.
We cling to the edge of the Mediterranean on one side or rattle through tunnels in capes. On the other side, the highway follows and is often perched high up above us. The towns look much like their French equivalents and the boats are just as impressive!
Ochre, peach and sand-coloured four or five storey apartment blocks, local fishermen, cafes hanging off clifftops overlooking the sea.
Grey gravel beaches, palms with branches wrapped to protect the fronds from the winds, the occassional patches of red poppies. Much like Monaco or Nice but scaled back. The Italian Alps rise to the distant east in seemingly terraced layers.
The train has a food trolley selling great hot chocolate and average sandwiches and is full of tourists with large suitcases. We stop at San Remo, Porto Maurizio, Alassio, Albenga and Savona before shunting at Genoa. We are so tantilisingly close to the Cinque Terre!...
From here, we follow a deep valley tinged with blossom trees through Arquetta and Pavia to Milan's Central Station. We have chosen a nearby hotel for what is essentially only a transit stop so walk across the road to the rather snappy Star Hotel Echo. How have we managed a four star hotel in our budget?
Then we hear two magical words... "Free upgrade". Minutes later, we sink into the softest feather pillows in our designer-treated room and hope the free upgrades continus through to tomorrow's flight..
We have just an afternoon in Milan and Liz has been recommended to see Milan from the roof of the Duomo. The Metro is a breeze but the entrance fees to the rooftop are somewhat stifling. The choice between 7€ to climb the stairs or 12€ to ride the lift is a no-brainer at this end of our trip... Milan's skyline can't compete with Seville's but the Duomo is certainly elaborate and interesting at roof level.
We descend to explore the famed Galleria of high end shops then emerge onto the square in front of La Scala. A few more streets and we are spent.
It's a quick pasta dish then back to those pillows. Tomorrow, we have a plane to catch...