Subject: Milan weekend
Hello,

I spent last weekend in Milan, and I think that a brief report might be interesting. We flew over with Volareweb.com , one of the new low-cost airlines that Are being born during the past years in Europe. We couldn´t get the initial offer of 1 Euro per flight (plus taxes), but we were able to get a 90 Euro return flight (including taxes), not too bad, given that the price with Iberia or Alitalia would have been around 300 Euro ...

We left Bilbao last Friday, on time. Seating is a bit tight, but the plane is fairly new, and it is only 1 hour and a half. Before you finish reading the papers, you are over the snow-capped Alps and approaching Malpensa.

Volareweb uses the Terminal 2 in Malpensa (I think it´s mainly for low-cost and charter flights). We were alone when picking the suitcases, and jumped into the shuttle bus to the Malpensa Express. We had landed at 11:00, and by 11:45 we were already in the train to Milan. Between arriving to Milan, buying metro tickets (my friends got a 24 hour ticket, I got a 48 hours, 3 Euros and 5,5 Euros each), we reached our hotel at Via Plinio, just around the corner of Piazza Lima metro station by 1 o´clock. It was only 7 stations away in the line 1.

Minor glitch. The hotel requires to pay in advance for the room. We waited around 10 minutes for the maid to finish preparing the room. We had asked for a triple room. It was a double with an extra bed. Space was a bit tight but adequate. Very clean, AC and CNN :)) The room had a small empty and working refrigerator, which can come handy if you want to store some fruit or yoghurt.

My friends had reservations for 3:45 at Santa Maria delle Grazie, so we headed back to Cadorna to have something to eat and wait for the other girl who was coming down from Como. It´s not an easy place to find a place to eat, specially as it was already a bit late, but we found a table under some leafy trees just off Piazza Virgilio (I think that´s the name of the square, I should check my map, but I don´t have it with me). It was a small place called Il Pomegranato, and most of the people there were office workers. We had 2 orzo estivo, 1 penne al pomodoro, 3 scalopini with zucchini and porcini, water and coffee. Good and reasonable, around 50 Euro for the three of us. They went to pick up their tickets, and I went back into the centre in order to find out at which time the cathedral roof closed (our guidebooks couldn´t agree about it).

We had a relaxed afternoon, climbing the roof, having a beer in the Rinascente roof top bar, and then walking around. Our friend left for Como at 8 o´clock, and we went to Brera to look for a place for dinner. We ended up at the Tratoria del Carmine. I had salad and a pretty good risotto with pumpkin. We called it a night at 11 o´clock. The girls had to be in the Como train at 7:10, so they had to wake up early again.

I had Saturday for myself. I woke up early, had a good breakfast and went out walking. About the breakfast, the room is tiny, and although it says buffet breakfast, it is mostly sweet things (pastries, cakes, jam and butter ...). It will disappoint you if you are looking for ham and cheese, but I liked the pastries and the bread ...

My Saturday was quite relaxed. I tried to get into the Contemporary Art Museum (closed for renovations), walked along Via della Spiga and got impressed, went to the Poldi Pezzoli and thought that the man at the entrance was a bit slow (although the audioguide is included in the price, he never offered it, you had to insist in order to get one). Also, there were a couple of organized visits, and you weren´t allow to stay in the same rooms as them.

The worst thing in the whole day, the fact that I found the TCI bookshop and I bought around 7 books and maps about the Dolomites, and I almost ruined myself :)) Not, seriously, it was a great thing. I found the Kompass guides ( http://www.kompass.at/ ) in italian, and they will be a great companion in our hiking.

I did some handbag shopping in the afternoon, and in the evening I met one of the girls who was arriving at around 9 o´clock from Como. The other was going to stay later up there, and headed straight to the hotel. We went to the Navigli, and looked for a place to eat. We ended up at a tiny place called Al pont di ferr (afterwards I have found glowing reviews from the best food writer in Spain). We had a simple salad, and I had chicken breast in orange sauce, with an endives and potato souffle on the side. Dessert was rice and peach pudding, and I had a bad time when I saw the cheeses ... I could have eaten all. Service was fast and attentive, and the prices were very reasonable, around 12 to 15 Euro for the main courses.

Sunday was also a hot day. We woke up a bit later, had breakfast, and left our suitcases in reception. Then we walked down to the Brera Pinacoteca, where we found out that there was going to be a labour meeting and they were going to close at lunch time. We had to rush a little bit with the audio guides (3,5 Euros each, but well worth it), and by 12:30 we were out. A visit to the Castello Sforzesco (the Pietá Rondanini can only be seen on Saturdays and Sundays), and then lunch outside in Via Brera. I finally had vitello tonato (and didn´t like it, I preferred the big bowl of salad I had before).

We had a so-so ice-cream for dessert, and then headed back to the hotel to pick up our bags and get to the airport. The check-in procedures were a bit tedious (they were doing everything by hand) and then our departing gate was changed 3 times. But ... I could get lots of Mulino Bianco cookies for home ... and we left on the hour !!! We landed at 9:30 in the evening, not a single minute late. Given that the previous weekend I had spent a whole day at Bilbao airport because all the Air France flights were being delayed or cancelled, this was a great thing. I have come back truly converted to Volareweb and their prices.

And I had a great time, although I forgot to bring with me Marco´s notes on Milan. I promise that there will be a next time soon, and they will come with me. There are a few churches missing and some museums to be seen (and food and shopping, of course).

Bye, Covadonga Bilbao - Spain