Milan 2021

Published Categorised as Italy, Travel No Comments on Milan 2021

In Septem­ber 2021 I returned to teach­ing EFL abroad. I had come home from Austria in March 2020, and then not taught at all for 18 months. It was a last minute trip, because the Itali­an govern­ment had suddenly decided to allow school visits with appro­pri­ate covid test­ing, and so I got an email on the Thursday and trav­elled on the Sunday.

It was a bit daunt­ing, and I had a weird worry that people would be angry at me for suddenly trav­el­ling when so many were still stuck at home. My phone was on its last legs at the time (and apolo­gies for these not so high qual­ity photos from my old phone), and I didn’t post much while I was there, because my laptop was and still is also broken. I meant to sort out these photos ages ago, but only got around to it this week, because I’ve barely been home in 2022. There’s a huge back­log of travel photos await­ing

Accom­mod­a­tion issues were to prove a common theme through­out the trip. I had to be at the airport really early on the Sunday for covid test­ing before flying, and as it was so last minute, I could only find a really crappy hostel to stay in near the airport (which also required an hour on the bus to Stansted rather than the usual ten minutes on the train due to engin­eer­ing work). The place was weird.

It looked like it had been last furnished in 1982 at the latest, and there were weird broken arcade machines like this Dr Who pinball machine dotted around the place, covered up with tea towels. You could also buy bags of frozen oven chips at recep­tion, and heat them up your­self in an ancient oven in an equally dated kitchen out the back. League of Gentle­men do Threads was the vibe.

The room itself was func­tion­al enough, but the guests next door made life miser­able. I tried to go to bed early to compensate for the long day of travel the next morn­ing, but there were two increas­ingly loud drunk men next door. The manager came to tell them to shut up, but instead of apolo­gising, they chal­lenged him to a fight in the carpark. He called the police, and four police­wo­men turned up to take them away. All I could hear was “Gavin, can you please put your trousers on” in the same voice you would use for saying that to a toddler.

I was very very glad to leave the hostel.

When I arrived in San Donato, the suburb of Milan where I was work­ing, I had anoth­er unpleas­ant surprise. The gues­t­house manager who had told my work she still had 11 hotel rooms for us, did not in fact have that many rooms, and had put us up in all kinds of weird and wonder­ful places.

I ended up stay­ing as a house­guest in this tiny flat with her 88 year old moth­er, who really did not want me there, and had multiple argu­ments about it. She slept on a mezzan­ine above this kitchen.

She also loved Paperis­sima, and watched it incred­ibly loudly every even­ing. It’s the Itali­an equi­val­ent of You’ve Been Framed or America’s Funni­est Home Videos. Except worse, because they add comedy sound effects and rewinds to the videos, it’s presen­ted by a muppet, and it’s on every day. After a few days she warmed to me, and persuaded me to sit and watch an epis­ode of it with her.

At least I had a genu­ine Klimt above my bed.

My origin­al room turned out to have been given to some German tour­ists, who I presume were paying more than my employ­ers. However one of my cowork­ers was still placed in the holi­day flat with them, and it was very awkward.

There was a branch of Spar oppos­ite where I was stay­ing, with a discount book shelf. They had a really, really weird selec­tion.

At least I managed to stock up on some DM products again. I so rarely buy toiletries in the UK I was at a genu­ine loss as to what to buy during lock­down. So many of the things on sale here have such harsh formu­las, and there’s not much that’s both gentle/​natural and cheap while being as good qual­ity as the DM own brand.

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