Jay & Nicole's Adventures
Trip to Milan, Italy - August 2007

(click any picture to get enlargement)

 During our 1st of 3 weeks in Switzerland the weather got so bad that we decided to visit Peter & Karla in Milan, Italy; they recently moved there from Venezuela.   

On the maps below you can see Bern in the upper left and Milano near the middle. The 5-6 hour trip took us through spectacular mountains and past beautiful lakes.

From Nicole's home town of Thun, we went south in search of better weather.
The mountain landscape was as beautiful in the movies. 

We boarded a car train and went through a large mountain. 

On the other side, we came out into a wonderful valley.

 We were still in Switzerland and had to head up towards another mountain pass; looking backwards gave us some nice views. 

We drove over the Simplon pass to get over the Alps and into Italy; the road then went down through steep gorges to the lake region.

The weather got nice and warm as we drove along Lago Maggiore, a major resort destination.

Peter & Karla live on the South Eastern outskirts of Milano; see the green square on the map below.
Their complex, called Cascina Crocefisso, is a re-modeled farm complex ... made with antique framework and new fixtures..

We got a tour of their 220 sq.m. apartment, which is much bigger than if they lived in the city.
True, they have to do some commuting, but their home life will be very comfortable and quiet.
Their cat Sushi is very happy too, as she can play in the plants & greenery.  We hear she brings birds & shrews home to say thanks!

We showered and got ready to head into town for dinner... 

... Peter & Karla made special plans and would not tell us where we were going to eat.

We drove into the middle of Milano and were surprised by the lack of traffic.  It seems that during August, most everything in Europe shuts down and everyone heads to the beaches... leaving the cities empty!

We parked by the Consulate of Switzerland... not one of the more remarkable buildings in town, but Peter says the offices are comfortable.

As we walked towards the restaurant area, we passed the big cathedral, called the Duomo.  It is the 2nd largest church in the world and looked fascinating. 

We will have to come back during the day to take a proper tour of the majestic looking building.

We then stopped at a corner and began to wait; I assumed that we needed to take a train to our final destination.

We were surprised when a fancy-looking trolley car stopped; a waiter came out and greeted us  ... "Welcome to Atmosfera!"

We ended up having dinner as we toured around the city; what a great concept!  To see the areas we visited, click on the map for a bigger version.  For a ".pdf" version of the route,  click here

The inside of the train was quite special & fancy; plus it was very quiet and surprisingly stable.

Click Here for the dinner menu.

We were kept quite busy with dinner & chatting, so we didn't have much time to take pictures... 

... but we did find time to take some more shots of the Duomo, since it was lit up quite nicely.

We were totally thrilled with the trolley experience and recommend this restaurant if you ever happen to find yourself in Milan!

The next day, on Saturday, we slept late and only went into town after the hot part of the day was past.

We visited the fashion district, which got Nicole very excited ... except everything was closed!

Of course, the fashion people will have to drive fashionable cars... Ferrari, Lamborghini and a Smarti!

We also passed a nice indoor shopping mall called Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

It is supposed to be the world's oldest shopping mall ... but we didn't bother to go in, as most places were closed!

In the end we were happy we came during the slow season and thus did not have to put up with traffic & tourists... but sadly, Nicole really wanted to do some shopping!

The food & desserts in Italy are fantastic and our mouths would water as we looked into shop windows; later we will treat ourselves to a little snack.

We decided to head towards the cathedral, which took us down a bustling street lined with cafes; nice!

We took a tour of the Duomo. First we went to the top and walked along the roof; then we came back down to see inside.

As we went up, we saw how complicated the structure was.

There were hundreds and hundreds of carvings and little steeples.  It is truly amazing that something like this could have been designed, and then built... without the aid of the technology we have available today!

The walkways we used were probably meant for maintenance. The places above were off-limits... maybe leading to secret areas? The views were getting more spectacular with every step.

Once on the roof, we could closely view the details of the spires and we got a closer look at the golden statue on the tallest one... wow!

 Some of the carvings defied gravity and had to be done as one piece; it was amazing they were still in place after all these years. The animals were rain spouts ... coming out of their mouths!

We were astounded by the detailed sculptures which were only visible from way up here!

 Over time most of the granite pieces needed repair or replacement; the brighter ones are brand new.

From the top of the Duomo we saw the Milano area.  It is very flat and only a few tall towers or buildings stick up.  There are about 2 million people living within the city, and about 8 million in the area... which is quite a lot for Europe!

 We then went down and entered the front of the cathedral to take a tour of the inside.

 From outside we did not get the same feeling of size as we got from inside; it is simply humongous.

 Everythigng was finished with perfection ... from the ornate altar to the complicated stone flooring.

Stained glass windows are usually very nice in old churches, but the size of these windows and the intense colors were very special.  

I can also only imagine at the stories that each of the windows tell; a person could spend a lifetime figuring out what everything means. 

Below the main part there were  areas in which the bodies of the deceased Cardinals were kept; the most recent being on display. 

There also was a nail that was supposed to have been from the cross that Jesus was crucified on ... a most interesting place!

Upon completion of the Duomo tour, we decided to walk around and take in more of the sights and sounds of Milano before everything closed down for the evening.

We were going to visit museums, but decided to tour the opera house, Teatro alla Scala; very nice! 

After the tour and walking some more, we stopped for some ice cream (called gelato); the best!

We returned to the house and had our own Happy Hour, followed by a quiet dinner at a riverside restaurant.  There are many places for Pete & Karla to discover during the next few years!

On Sunday we slept really, really, really late and finally shook off any remaining jet lag we had.  We stayed around their home and went into Milano for a dinner at a 'chic' new restaurant... no pics though!

On Monday afternoon we went to a local mall and some big department stores; it had been a long time since we visited a big sporting goods store or a giant hardware store!  We didn't buy much since we hope that Tel Aviv will offer many of the same items.  We did buy lots of wine though, as it is more expensive in Switzerland... unless we are stopped at the border and have to pay a fine!

On Monday night we returned to Milano to experience the Happy Hour in the canal district.  The canals were built long ago to bring in stones for the Duomo and to exchange products from the ocean ports.

For Happy Hour, many bars and restaurants charge about $10 for a drink, but then you are allowed to eat from their snack buffet.  We checked a few places and chose the one with the best food!

We enjoyed watching people as we relaxed and talked about future travel plans. The Swiss people will supposedly enjoy the T-shirt behind me, from a sausage producer some years ago ..?? 

After eating a lot at Happy Hour, we decided to skip dinner.  We walked up and down the canal until the sun began to set, which gave a very nice color to the surrounding area.

We then stopped to enjoy another gelato stop to finish off our very nice visit to Milano. Since Israel is not very far from Europe, we plan to come back again to visit Venice, Rome, Trieste, etc...... 

Thanks to Peter, Karla and Sushi for being such wonderful hosts!

On Tuesday morning we got up early and began the drive back over the mountains to CH.

We came through the Gothard tunnel to enter Switzerland and then we had to go over a mountain pass to enter the middle valley region where Interlaken, Thun and Bern are located.

 As we drove back we came across many beautiful sights, with many now capped mountains and glaciers.

Most people from this area see this on a daily basis, but we had to stop and take some pictures periodically ... as we no longer see sights like this very often.

We took a break on the top of the pass to enjoy a brew ... I mean the view ;)

This summer has been unusually cool, so many of the glaciers still had a lot of snow showing.

This is a close-up of the top mountain areas... anyone up for some skiing?  Have a helicopter?

A little while later we get an even better view of these glaciers... and hardly anyone stops to notice!

We were making really good time but we decided to continue down the mountain and to take a picnic break somewhere along the lakes which form below.

This entire area of Switzerland is one of the most breathtaking places on Earth!

The lake of Brienz forms from the mountain rivers; it has a greenish tint from glacial minerals.

We made a picnic and and took in the sights of the lake; the nearby towns looked very quaint.

A 'castle-like' hotel and a ferry which covers the lake area. Some of the local people still farm the land and have animals, but most people commute to the bigger cities, via trains, for their jobs.

We finished the drive back to Thun and then had a relaxing evening with Mum and the cats... but that begins the next story ... the visit to Switzerland ... coming soon!