December 6 & 7, 2013 – Pleasanton to Milan, Italy

The trouble with tickets that you buy with frequent flyer miles is that they don’t give you the most convenient flights. We are up at 2 AM to get to SFO for our 6 AM flight. Everything is going smoothly and we settle down at the airport with a cup of coffee.

John looking dapper at 4:30 AM at SFO
John looking dapper at 4:30 AM at SFO

Then it’s on the plane and we are set to go. Uh oh, the captain has just come on the PA to say that the wings are frosty and there are no de-icers at SFO. Really, SFO? Not even one? So it’s off the plane to wait for the sun to come out and melt the frost. We busy ourselves at the bar in the lounge. Sarah is going into full panic attack. She needs a little less drama when flying.

Seriously, who doesn't have drinks at 7 AM? But it's okay. It's 4 PM in Milan.
Seriously, who doesn’t have drinks at 7 AM? But it’s okay. It’s 4 PM in Milan.

On the flight from Newark to Milan we encounter the most turbulence I have ever experienced. The seat belt sign is illuminated for seven out of the eight hours we are flying. Needless to say everyone on the flight needs to use the restroom. But we land in Milan early and even see the dramatic snow covered Alps along the way.

Snow covered Alps.
Snow covered Alps.

After a short hassle with Hertz and Jack, our GPS, we negotiate our way to our hotel, Sporting Hotel Cologno, just east of Milan. We shower and nap for a half an hour and then catch the Metro into Milan center.
Sarah on the Metro.
Sarah on the Metro.

We come up right at the Duomo. What a fabulous building! It is the fourth largest cathedral in the world. Taking six centuries to build, it is a polyglot of styles. The exterior, though, is most definitely gothic.
Milan cathedral
Milan cathedral

We pause to do a little picture taking.
The Galleria is in the same piazza as the Duomo.
The Galleria is in the same piazza as the Duomo.

Mary and Sarah in front of the Duomo
Mary and Sarah in front of the Duomo

An American couple overhear our speaking English and offer to take our picture. Friendliest tourists to Americans? Other Americans.
An American couple overhear our speaking English and offer to take our picture. Friendliest tourists to Americans? Other Americans.

We tour the inside of the immense cathedral. The most notable piece of art is a statue of St. Bartholomew, carved in marble with his flayed skin slung over his shoulder. St. Bartholomew was martyred by having all his skin cut off.
St. Bartholomew (photo courtesy of a member of Flickr)
St. Bartholomew (photo courtesy of a member of Flickr)

Next we take the elevator up to the roof of the Duomo. It is a great view of Milan plus an amazing look at the architectural details of this Gothic cathedral. There are gargoyles and flying buttresses, a whole city of stone up here.

On the rooftop of the Duomo
On the rooftop of the Duomo

Sarah among the gargoyles and flying buttresses
Sarah among the gargoyles and flying buttresses

My knee which has been protesting more and more loudly as the day wears on, will not allow me to climb to the very top. John and I leave that to Sarah and we descend to look around the Christmas market set up around the cathedral. There are a lot of yummy looking things.
Cheese and salami at the Christmas market
Cheese and salami at the Christmas market

Also lots of  pastries
Also lots of pastries

Returning to our hotel, we plan on an early-ish dinner in the restaurant downstairs and then collapse into bed. But we are informed that the restaurant in closed on Saturdays and Sundays. We are given a recommendation for a nearby enoteca and head over around 7:30 PM for dinner. It is truly memorable.

Now well sated and barely able to keep our eyes open, we stumble back to the hotel in hopes of a good night’s sleep.

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