I’ll be honest. Milan was never on the list. There wasn’t much I knew about the city except its status as a universally embraced arbiter of fashion and design and, of course, the Duomo. But that wasn’t enough to recommend it to me. And technically, the little time we did spend in the city didn’t do much to change my mind. That brazen and soulless veneer? Yeah, it’s not just veneer. Our budget “hotel” seemed like it had stepped out of a horror movie from the 70s with creaky floors and dripping taps galore. The walk to the train station was peppered with open gutters and a mouse scurrying across the road. Maybe we weren’t holed up in the nicest part of town but it was enough to make us want to get out of there ASAP!
Thankfully, most of our time was spent on the outskirts of the city at the Expo Milan pavilion. While the idea of feasting on a smorgasbord of food from countries around the world had my inner foodie doing cartwheels, the main reason for making our way to the Expo was to witness Cirque du Soleil.
The Grand Performance
One of the largest (or perhaps THE largest) theatrical production companies in the world, it had been a long-held dream of mine to watch Cirque du Soleil in action. And boy, was it worth it! Seated among 6000 people in an open-air amphitheatre under the night sky, we watched the story of ‘Allavita’ unfold in a series of daring twists and turns equivalent to inhuman perfection. How those performers contort their bodies will forever remain a mystery to me. I could spew out words like magical, surreal and breathtaking but I feel like it still wouldn’t do justice to what we saw that night so I’ll just move on to the rest of the story.
I’ll make this quick: everyone knows Italy is famous for it’s gelato and we made the most of that knowledge during our trip but nothing ever came close to that scoop of creamy frozen yoghurt I got my hands on at one of the pavilions at Expo. We were too poor to afford most of the food on offer but that one expensive scoop did much to help me combat the gnawing FOMO.
The Getting Lost Bit
By the time the performance wrapped up, it was close to midnight and we still had to make our way across the length of the nearly mile-long central artery of the Expo, take a bus to the train station, change a train on the way and then finally walk back to our haunted house of a hotel. Needless to say, we decided to look for a shortcut to the exit. After almost an hour of walking back and forth, feet protesting incessantly and brains beginning to panic, it finally dawned on us that we were lost. Eventually, we managed to locate a familiar corner and traced back the path from where we came and long though it may have been, it finally led us to the bus we had been searching for.