At the end of February, I finished my employment contract in London and granted myself a grace period of 2 months to travel before my return to Australia. Truth be told, with all these “grace periods” I’ve had over the last 2 years, I’m slightly worried at the prospect of having my holidays limited by annual leave again ..
Anyway, the beauty of funemployment is the freedom it affords you to chase some of those illusive cheap airfares that you always hear about, but never really find for weekender trips. So while I had 2 months to spare, my midweek travel plans were mostly dictated by whatever deals I could snag – first one off the rank was Milan (£35 return, thanks Ryanair!).
It was a quick Monday morning – Tuesday night trip, mostly for shopping since I was within the 3 month window of leaving the EU/UK, thus enabling me to start claiming back VAT**. And shopping is certainly what I did, in between plenty of Italian expressos, and aperitivos! Apart from the designer outlet shopping around Milan, some other standouts were the grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the magnificent looming Duomo, and an amazing tagliatelle pasta I had at Ristorante Nabucco. That said, for those on a serious shopping mission, there are numerous outlet shopping tours available.
It goes without saying that Milan is a chic place. Unintentionally, I was there during the time where the city was chic-on-steroids i.e Milan Fashion Week. In fact, I had walked out of the airport arrival gate behind an American glamor-zon, who must’ve been a who’s who of something judging by the papparazi. Sadly, I didnt see any of the celebs/fashion bloggers I actually knew, apart from seeing their Instagram photos by the Duomo (which I regret not spending more time exploring).
I stayed in an Airbnb in Brera, an artsy area of Milan recommended to me by one of my Italian colleagues for its cute alleyways, and variety of boutiques and restaurants. The furthest I had to walk to get around was only half an hour, and the city felt pretty walkable, so I had no qualms strolling around.
However, the only thing I forgot was the fact that I haven’t always had great experiences encountering Italian men on my solo travels, who have tended to be quite upfront / overtly forward (which is probably a cultural difference more than anything). Though slightly disconcerting for someone like me who’d much rather go unnoticed, it’s never really stopped me from doing whatever I wanted. However, I unfortunately did have to cut one meal short while in Milan due to persistent nagging and a profession of love from a waiter. No real cause for concern, just a minor grievance. Shame though, cos the pasta was nice.
But other than that meal, everything else about this fashionable bustling city did win me over – and never have I downed quite that many expressos, which made me shakey like a jitterbug. On the other hand, it might’ve just been my credit card quivering in fear as it got put to work 😉 But as they say.. when in Rome! Or in this case, Milan.
** Btw, I eventually left the UK and claimed back a few hundred GBP of VAT at Heathrow. But because I had a bit of time left on my visa, I had to prove to the officers that I was actually permanently leaving (luckily I had an Australian employment offer letter on me). Just an FYI.