or Milano as I was often asked to say.
While living abroad in Germany last year for work I had the great privilege of… A CAR! It’s a well known fact that the European rail systems are fantastic so having one was definitely not necessary but it did certainly give me my freedom and make my list of travel destinations endless. I also had the great privilege of having two good friends staying in France the same time I was abroad so it only made sense to meet them somewhere in the middle for a weekend adventure. We took a look at the map and one place in particular caught our eye- Milan. Friday after work I hopped in my car and started making my way through Germany, Austria, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and finally Italy. What sounds like a long journey only took about 5 hours.
There were two specific things about Milan that have caused it to live in a special place in my heart; the place we stayed and the people we met. I have stayed in many hostels throughout Europe and for the most part have nothing but raving things to say about them. This hostel was different – the energy of the workers radiated throughout the entire place. The smiles and friendliness of fellow travelers was contagious. It was wildly obvious how much passion the staff had for their jobs, the hostel itself and for making sure their visitors had a beyond memorable stay. I remember walking in the front door, being greeted by the diverse staff chattering, laughing and smiling while practically shoving a beer into my hand as I checked in and being told to hurry and get a plate of their complementary dinner when they handed me my keys. I remember hanging out at the bar and meeting people from cultures I had never interacted with before. I remember walking out on the beautiful back terrace and up on the rooftop filled with couches and hammocks exchanging laughs and stories with these people that just moments ago were strangers to me. I remember connecting so quickly and so deeply to so many beautiful souls that quickly became more than just fellow travelers.
I know everything I’m going on and on about doesn’t benefit people looking to find out more about Milan but I just wanted to express how blissful this place made me feel. When I was planning this trip I figured it would just be a convenient place to meet friends and a beautiful city to explore. I never thought I would be sitting here almost a year later still feeling overwhelmed by the joy the places and people of that city brought me. But that’s what happens when you travel… you meet people and experience things you never knew your heart was missing. I think this is the realization that one of my favorite quotes comes from- “I am love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met”. Leaving Milan left me with the feelings to truly understand that phrase. Leaving Milan also sent me into a state of sadness and withdrawals; so much so that the next Friday after work I hopped in my car and started making my way through Germany, Austria, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and once again, Italy. My heart felt so empty not being surrounded by those souls I met and that atmosphere I felt so comfortable in. I just needed a few more days to soak it all in.
I can’t guarantee that Milan will be the place that makes you feel these things but I can suggest to at least give it a try because I know I am not the only one that left there feeling that way. Outside of the hostel, Milan is just as beautiful of a place. The Duomo is absolutely breathtaking. The Navigli canals are unbelievable. The wine is better than words can describe. The risotto… I don’t have words for that either. The only thing I could have done without was needing to drive through the city. I know I started off this post by saying how thankful I was that I had a car to make these last minute trips possible but drivers and street markings in Italy are just a little too much for me.
In addition to exploring the touristy things of Milan we had the amazing opportunity to visit the World Expo. Before going I was a little hesitant on going just because I am not much of a “museum person” and had no idea what to actually expect. I cannot even begin to explain how wrong my assumptions were and how glad I am that I went. It was truly a one-0f-a-kind experience and one that I hope everyone can eventually experience. Each countries creation and representation of their culture and their people was so intriguing. To be honest, there were quite a few countries I had never even heard of. There were customs and traditions showcased that I didn’t know existed. It was a way to open your mind and explore new places without needing to hop on a train or a plane. The World Expo is a travel enthusiasts dream come true.
With all that being said, you never know what you’ll come across when you travel somewhere new so buy a ticket and go there, somewhere… anywhere.