So earlier this year on the 1st October at 4.30am I was whizzing merrily down the M50 in the lashings of rain & pitch dark, absolutely petrified as I had never driven on the motorway before. Somehow I made it to the Crown Plaza Hotel in Northwood, Santry, where I deposited Golfy (I know, a shoe-in for the most original auto nickname) . Now I’m not driving very long: but I did the best parking job of my life so far, reversing uphill into a tight spot between two cars, & of course NO-ONE was around to see it or believe it. I was going to take a pic, but at that point I realised that deserted car parks aren’t the safest environment; so I scooted down to the hotel to wait for the free bus. Car parking only cost €8 for the night, much cheaper than the DAA, who wanted €30!!
I checked in at the hotel reception, & because I was very early for the bus, I was directed off somewhere to the left to have tea or coffee. Now I went off to the left, & he saw me disappear into: toilets, a closed bar, a half open restaurant, yet he didn’t direct me to the fact that what he meant was a tea maker right next to his desk! Fair enough, the early morning myopicness can’t be helped but maybe he was enjoying my stupid ambling! I got a nice spicy tea & sat down, where I saw a table set up for brekkies for the LH crew. At 5.15 the driver pulled the bus up to the entrance (Oh a lovely bendy Citaro) , announcing as he was doing so “I am just going to move the bus up” with that inimitable Asian politeness. At 5.40 I was running all the way over to T2: dressed for Milan in October is not really wise when you’re still in Dublin in October. Went through security no problems, had my usual amble in the Slaney bar (because of its great views) then I headed down to my gate. The gate area was nice & quiet, & soon the boarding by rows began, the gate agent thanking us for our co-operation (oh we’re so good).
Photo © Nik Deblauwe
A320 EI-DVK Brighid/St.Brigid (Only 9 mths awww)
Yep, couldn’t wait to get out of here...
I boarded & said good morning. I had to wake up a sleeping man on the aisle to get to my window seat. He looked DELIGHTED. The captain told us we would be delayed a little due to restrictions but it actually wasn’t too bad. Soon we were spraying water down the runway & climbing up into the sky. After the seatbelt sign went off the BOB service started. I bought a glass of sparkling wine for €7.50 (it’s never too early!) & the trusty Bacon Bap for €5 (they will be missed from the new Sky Deli!) from the Sky Café service. I wanted to buy an EI model A321 (€9) from the Sky Shopping Duty Free but it didn’t happen as the crew whizzed past, one blabbing on about Tenerife! I was kind of like, huh? I consoled myself by looking out the window at Swiss lakes & the Alps, which the pilot told us to look out for. Nice when they do that. As we were nearing LIN I got up to go to the toilet, having to wake Mr. Sleepy, smiling & ignoring the evils. Upon return, I gently said “Excuse me?” Nothing. And again. Nothing...by now a few A320 rows were kind of laughing at me so I was just kind of like “Ahhh, isn’t this typical “rolly eyes face, so I tapped him gently on the shoulder & the Aislekeeper granted me entry to my seat that I had paid €5 for. Grazie, Aislekeeper. We landed (with me face plastered to the window as usual) & after a short taxi we stopped on the ramp next to a BA A319. There were a few AZ A319s & Maddogs, who used to grace DUB with their noisy smoky presence . As I looked out the window before deboarding I had a chortle to myself as I saw “EMPORIO ARMANI” plastered over one of the hangars. Damn, even the airport is fashionable!
A rampy working the catwalk...
LIN is not so impressive on the inside, I suppose it just does what it says on the tin. Security wasn’t long, & soon I popped out into Arrivals. Now as MIAspotter was arriving later on in MXP, we arranged to meet at Piazza San Babila. He had briefed me on which bus to get, where to get it, & even gave me a link on the fare etc. So I walked out, saw the bus stop, grand, I felt like a local; I knew it would be €2, grand, so I ignored the ticket machines, as I had read that I could pay onboard. I hopped on the bus &said “Piazza San Babila?” to the bus driver. Well of course he replied in a flurry of Italian, to which I just smiled & edged towards the coin machine in the back; which seemed to make him talk even more Italiany stuff.. I deciphered something as “ENGLISH!”,said in a quite exasperated tone. So I put me €2 into the machine. Nothing happened. So I asked some Eastern European people, they don’t know either. This is just seconds after I smugly told a fellow Irish traveller, “Oh yeah, this bus? Yeah it totally goes to the city centre, San Babila & costs €2” ! I try to get off the bus to buy a ticket from the machines I had so wrongly ignored, but at this moment the driver decided to close the doors & drive off with me, ticketless onboard. At this point I decided whatever! If a ticket inspector gets on I’ll just show him the bloody machine that swallowed me €2!!
So after sweating it on the bus & giving the driver evils, I stepped out into Milano. Woww! Such an adventure, exploring a little bit on me own. The bus actually left me around the corner from the Piazza, so using me Google maps on the old iPhone I found me way. I had around an hour & a half before MIAspotter emerged from the Metro so I walked down the Piazza, marvelling at the sheer amount of shops, overpriced restaurants & bumbags. Yes, bumbags are being worn in Milan, fashion capital of Europe. Wtf?! I also found the Duomo (wow) & the Ferrari shop. There was quite the commotion at the Duomo, some priest was hanging out the windiow & a crowd of people were goin nuts so I thought it was the Pope or something. Strangely enough, Christian later told me there was a bloke who looked like Jesus on the Metro. Milan: Fashion is the new Religion (or vive versa, play around with it!) I mooched around, playing with the idea of getting a nice gelato, but was too scared after the bus incident . Instead I consulted my Lonely Planet guide on how to ask for a bottle of water as it was really hot! Again, my bane of central Europe -“Gas or no gas?” aghhhhhhhhh but when he saw my perplexed face he said it in exasperated English. Grazie.
Eventually Christian arrived & we wandered the shops again some more before getting on the Metro to our hotel, Hotel Soperga. It was basic but the staff were friendly & the rooms were fine. Only weird thing was a gap between the bathroom door & floor so you could spy on whoever was in there ...After dumping all our crap in the room we headed out to explore. Having lived there before, Chris knew his way around pretty well. After some calzone in Tarantella(where the manager thought we were Americans, then got talking to Christian about Barcelona & made him read a newspaper article; we got a handshake upon leaving). we visited Navigli, & found the best antique shop EVER, with a GIANT Britannia Airways 767 for sale for €300! Afterwards we cooled down with what else...GELATO! Then it was onto one of the old rickety 1920s trams; gelato; a walk through Castello Sforzesco; in between we heard & saw lots of Ferraris & Lamborghinis, & ate gelato.
A few images of Milan:
The impressive Milan Central Train Station
Duomo (They don't like short shorts)
After an amazing meal of buffalo balls (mozzarella cheese balls made from buffalo milk!) in Obika we toddled back on the Metro to the Soperga, were we yoinked someones wifi hehehe. Next morning we checked out & the hotel kept our bags for us while we went out for breakfast. We hit Milan Centrale, being a train station I did not expect much: think again Irish girl this is MILAN! I had my first real Cappucino & the most amazing ham & cheese sandwich. We explored this mammoth station with its Mussolini proportions. After buying an AC Milan scarf from a Chinese lady (her Italian was as bad as ours), we took a nice air-conditioned coach to MXP. We got there very early, around 1.30 so we could do geeky activities like spotting. MIAspotter had told me prior that MXP kind of looked like an insane asylum, & it totally did with the big green walls & pillars. He checked in himself on one of the LH fancy machines. EI confusingly said (at the time) olci was avaialbe for all flights between mainland Europe & Ireland...but MXP did not have this facility, & there were no self service machines either.The only EI equipment I saw was a hand luggage thing.
The windows of T1 afforded us great views:
An EK A345
TU 735 & EK A345
9U A320, MS Star Alliance 738, & TK A320
SV A320 & ex AA LZ MD80
Christians LH Italia A319 (far left)
After some tasty pasta upstairs in Spizzico, Christian headed off for his LH flight around 17.00. My flight wasn’t until 20.50 ...I tried to hang around by the windows but my feet were killing from having blitzed Milan in a few hours! I limped to the check in area but nothing was happening so wandered around the back of the terminal & considered sleeping in the chapel but considered it maybe a tad disrespectful. I was absolutely broke (having dragged poor Chris around the airport trying to find an atm that would accept my credit card-turned out there wasn’t actually any money in there) & so I just sat with a moany face & a bottle of water, while inside my head I was sitting in some wonderful lounge...
Finally at 18.30 the check in opened. I joined a queue of people, & was skipped actually by a lovely couple . Going through security there was two glamazons frantically shouting after each other, running in heels & they ducked under the queuing system & dashed through. Must have been models late for a flight to some amazing photoshoot! I forgot to roll my bag through the x-ray machine, thinking it would just magically go through... after I pushed it forward & tried to shrug it off with a tee hee “aren’t I such an eejit?” type thing, the security guard stamped his foot at me! After this, with my dogs really barking now I checked the fids in a kind of limbo/purgatory place; a pile of seats looking at the screens, with a generic restaurant pizza place & several handy uber-designer stores surrounding it. There was no gate shown for my flight. I saw a sign for airline lounges & nearly started crying (I know, total smallest violin in the world etc). I walked as slowly as possible to waste more time, checking out the bathrooms on the way. I couldn’t believe the state of them, it was like Ireland in the early 90s! Ouldones were smoking in there, & the toilet seat melted & scorched was a testament to that! All of them were like that! Do toilet seats=ashtrays here?! I counted all my pennies & cents after spending a penny, & bought a slice of pizza, thinking...dear god...there must be a gate now!! FINALLY!
Photo © Pawel Cieplak
A320 EI-DER Mel/St.Mel (6 years old)
A GJ A330 next door
Knackered as I was, I said hi to the crew who over their conversation about being divorced could not hear me. However as I made my way to my seat, there was a nicer ccm who acknowledged me & smiled. I also noticed her helping elderly passengers. As we were taxiing out, an old man in front of me was trying to turn on his reading light, as in line with procedure the lights were dimmed for take off. He was actually repeatedly pressing the f/a button, poor fella. He got the divorce expert thundering down to him, asking what was the matter. I think he was Italian & couldn’t speak English. She asked was he ok & turned off the light. I felt bad for not helping him but maybe a pair of hands & disembodied voice from behind would have been a bit disturbing. Also generally when I help people I actually end up making things worse due to my own awkwardness...
I sulkily sat through the flight (no sparkling wine this time, sigh) but soon the sight of the Eiffel Tower far below cheered me up. We landed in DUB after 22.00, & I was not looking forward to the journey home as I was like a zombie at this stage . Meanwhile MIAspotter was probably all tucked up in bed! Stupid geographically peripheral Ireland! I made the airport shuttle bus, after wandering the coachpark & a kind bus driver showing me where to wait, retrieved Golfy, made it home alive & collapsed in the door at 23.30; then readied my paperwork for an interview the next day...which suffice to say I failed, probably due to the fact that I introduced myself as the wrong age!
Ah well, Milan was worth it!
EI: 7/10 Was not impressed with the cabin crew on these runs. Aircraft were great, especially the outbound, as it was brand new.
LIN: Fine, I had no problems here.
MXP: Nice check in staff, but I think the place needs an overhaul. As MIAspotter said, it looked like an old sanatorium, indeed I found myself pacing the floors like an inmate! I know now even in this age of wifi etc, just to always bring a bloody book! THE BATTERY WILL NOT DIE ON A BOOK!!!
Grazie! Thanks for reading!
The Classic Codeshare:EI BA JQ DUB LHR HKG SIN (by aerdingus Dec 10 2011 in Trip Reports)
DUB-HEL-DUB With EI (kinda Long-ish W/pics) (by aerdingus Apr 19 2011 in Trip Reports)
[Edited 2011-12-15 15:53:44]
[Edited 2011-12-15 15:57:58]
[Edited 2011-12-15 15:59:37]