Monday, August 22, 2011

Milan & Turin, Italy + Nice, France (genius title, I know)

Traveling with one’s mother is definitely no sugar-coated thing. My mother does not like to walk fast, to walk much, to be in the sun, she wants to live in cheap but great accommodation, somewhere intensely close to the main sights of a certain place. I could go on and on.

The thing is, I had our trip well planned until my mother had to change her mind last minute. We lost 4 plane tickets all together as well as about a trillion of my nerves and hair. We planned to go to Milan, Turin and Bari in Italy. Now we’re doing Milan and Turin in Italy and Nice, France. By chance I found a great 1-bedroom apartment in Old Town of Nice, booked new train tickets literally several hours before my flight out of Berlin (prior to that it’d been a week of frenetic looking for hotels, comparing prices and so on) and off we went.

I’m not a fan of Milan, but it so happens I’ve been there twice in the last year. It’s a good hub for the south of Europe, I guess. Since I’m no fan of shopping anymore (in fact, I find it really hard to make myself go buy some new clothes), Milan is a bad place for me to go because there’s nothing but shopping there (although it’s better in other cities, but somehow Milan has had good marketing). Shopping, Duomo and The Last Supper. But thankfully I only had several hours to lose there and all I did was have lunch with my sister and mother and then I had a short walk in some park where I saw a big fat rat and dodgy looking people. My sister then stayed in Milan for several more days and my mother and I went on further.

Turin was a curious experience. It’s the first Italian city I’ve been to that totally corresponds to the stereotype of being nearly dead in the summer. Most shops were closed, so were many restaurants and it seemed like not many people were around. But it was still quite interesting. They have a complicated bus system there where the map isn’t necessarily up-to-date and the buses are not on time, but that shouldn’t really surprise anyone who’s visiting Italy. It was nice overall, although it turned out to be smaller than I imagined it. They sell lots of good wine there.

Nice, on the other hand… I know it there is a risk of this sounding pretentious, but Nice, France has to be one of the most boring places I’ve been to. Last time I was here was exactly 2 years ago and I was bored out of my mind. A couple of people I was travelling with went to Cannes and I was majorly excited because I’m such a movie buff still, but it was disappointing. Yes, there are palms and there is the sea, but then there’s also the outrageous prices, old+rich people in abundance and that’s it. It's hard to find anything but Italian food here, I'll be honest with ya. Nice is the same. This time around I’ve come to establish that there is some nice live music in the evening about a block down from our apartment and then there's that fantastic posh cemetery with a view on the Mediterranean Sea, but otherwise Nice, France is not my choice for vacation. My mother, on the other hand, has been heard to call it heaven on Earth which just makes me want to chuckle. :) Ah, you know me. Me and my difficult character.

Some price comparison:

Pizza Margherita (not the supermarket version): Nice - from 9EUR (average price 10.5EUR), Milan - from 5EUR, Berlin from 2.5EUR (average price 4EUR)
Tomatoes, 1kg: Berlin - 0.5-1.5EUR, Nice - 1-4.5EUR
Nectarines, 1kg: Berlin - from 2kg for 1EUR to 1EUR per 1kg, Nice - 2.5-5EUR.

And so on.

The good thing is, I’ve been working on my tan. I haven’t been this well-tanned in something like 3 or 4 years now and I must admit I do get a kick out of seeing my skin go darker and darker. I feel a bit like a valley girl when I say and think that, but what can you do. Nothing but keep on tanning and swimming.

Anyhow, in about 32 hours we’re taking a train (or more like 3 trains actually) and then for me it’s a flight to Berlin and my mother will fly to Krasnodar via Istanbul.

As always, I’m happy to return to Berlin. I hear the weather has been good for once. Baffling! It better stay this way so that I can strut my tan.


Mari said... have been to the wrong places in Milan...Next time try the Castello Sforzesco, Navigli (lot of interesting little restaurants and real local life), St. Ambrogio and San Lorenzo (where you can see the different levels of ground and history of Milan....It can really be an amazing place, if you stay away from the shopping frenzy (I am not a fan of that, either).
As for Nice, yes, expensive and boring, I agree...

Josh Aggars said...

I've been through Rome at this time of year and experienced that whole city shut down thing first hand. I quite liked it as it left the streets uncrowded so I got to take it easy in the heat.

Shame you didn't have more time in the south of France as I would urge you to go onto Sarlat. The villages in and around there are beautiful and you get the really French country life experience - markets, pate, cheese, flans, lazy hazy afternoons, boulles and vats of amazing wine. Ah well next time maybe.


True story said...

Hi Mari, thank you for your recommendations! I've been to Castello Sforzesco and around San Lorenzo on my first trip there, but still it's sort of didn't evoke much in me. I have a friend who visited these places in March with a local and she really liked it, so maybe it was a different perspective.

Speaking of Nice.. today I got a cappuccino the size of espresso here! Like, really, it was about 50ml.

Josh, hello, thank you for checking the blog out! Thank you for recommending Sarlat, to be frank, I haven't even heard of it, but it definitely sounds like something I would like. :) Especially the cheese and the wine. ;)

And about Rome, I was there 2 years ago and it was quite full with both tourists and locals, I have to say. I loved Rome. Which I guess wouldn't surprise anyone. ;)

Anonymous said...

We sometimes take daytrips to Milano, arriving there at noon and leaving at 20:00.
It's a very nice trip through the Alpes, and you can taste some "Italian" air, eat a good pizza and buy some Italian food.
For me those eight hours are enough. I'm not a shopping person either, but I saw worse cities in Europe as well.

Berlin sounds much cheaper than SW Germany...

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