Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1114: Bergamo, Venice, Lerici, Piemonte, Friends & World Cup Mania
By girasoli from Hawaii, Summer 2006
Page 23 of 23: Heading to The Airport Hotel and My Flight Home
Final destination - the airport hotel Ė Hotel Villa Malpensa.
To my knowledge, there were three options to get the airport when using public transportation:
Option 1: Bus from Torino directly to the airport; a two-hour ride departing from Torino at 7:00am, 9:00am, or 3:00pm. This was the option recommended to me when planning my trip. While in Torino, I tried to find the bus station where the bus went to the Milan Airport. I asked at the train station and no one knew anything about this bus station. I also asked a few people waiting for buses and no one knew anything about this bus station. I then asked this nice man at EXKI if he knew anything about this bus station. He called a few people and finally found out where this mysterious bus station was located. He showed me the location on my map. The bus station appeared to be pretty far from the train station and also from my hotel. My concern was that there was only one afternoon bus, the 3:00pm bus, and I wasnít sure what I would do if it was full or sold out. I also was not sure if the taxi strike was over and thought it could turn out to be quite a hassle to first get to the bus station and then to have to get back to the train station if the bus was full since reservations were not possible for this bus. I suppose my general dislike of riding buses also swayed my choice regarding taking the bus from Torino. I really did not want to spend two hours on a packed bus, as I am not a good bus rider and prefer trains even if it means a slightly longer trip. I find train rides to be roomier. Also, you can walk around, and there are bathrooms on trains. And so in the end, I decided not to choose this option. Looking back now at my journey, it probably would have been the best choice.
Option 2: Take the train to Milan (1 hour 50 minutes) and then the 50 min bus ride to the airport from the Milan train station. Advantages, roomier seats on the train, being able to walk around, a bathroom on the train, and for the bus ride, a much shorter bus ride with buses leaving every 20 or 30 minutes. If one was full, I would not have to wait so long for the next bus to depart. I decided to choose this option.
Option 3: Just in case Option 2 does not work out; take the train to Milan, the metro (subway) to a second train station in Milan, and then take the Malpensa Express train directly to the airport. Advantages, no bus rides, bathrooms on both trains, more room on trains. Disadvantages as I later found out, craziness getting to the metro and getting on/off the metro with luggage.
As mentioned above, I decided on option 2, train to Milan and then the bus to the airport. After losing track of the time while at the Cinema Museum and then practically running all the way, I arrived at the train station out of breath. I was glad that I purchased my train ticket the day before. I stamped my ticket in one of the yellow boxes and headed to my train. I saw this guy saying goodbye to his girlfriend or wife at one of the first class entrances onto the train. I played the helpless girl act hoping that he would offer to lift my bag on board. I usually don't do this but my bag was much heavier than usual after packing all the little gifts I purchased while in Torino and I was still out of breath. He didnít get the act at first but the girl did and told him to help me. The train ride to Milan was very pleasant.
Once the train arrived in Milan, I departed and then immediately realized that I had to go to the bathroom. What was I thinking? BIG MISTAKE! One of the main reasons I chose the train was to have access to a bathroom. I grew up always being told to go even if I didnít have to whenever traveling. The one time I really should have listened, and I didnít. I donít know why but I didn't even think about using the bathroom while on the train. I guess it was just such a nice comfortable ride that I didnít think about the bus ride coming up to get to the airport. I thought about hopping back on the train but of course you are not supposed to use the toilets while the train is stopped. I also thought about asking someone where the bathrooms were but then remembered that it is usually pretty impossible to use train bathrooms with luggage when traveling alone and Milan is not a place where I would want to leave a bag outside a bathroom stall.
SO, I changed my mind at the last minute and decided on Option 3. I would take the metro to the other train station in Milan instead of taking the bus figuring this would get me faster access to a bathroom. I have taken the T (subway) in Boston many times and figured it would be quite similar. I also rode the metro in Rome once. I figured it would be pretty easy to take the metro to get to the second train station. Little did I know what fun awaited me?
I took out my notes that I wrote about my three options before I left for Italy to figure out what station I needed to find. I looked around for signs. I located the Metro sign and then followed the arrows and a crowd of people, soon arriving at the Metro station. I then realized that I had no idea where I was going, what line to take, and which way I was heading! Tons of people were arriving in Milan for the final game of the World Cup. People were running through the subway station with no shirts on, wrapped in Italian flags, blaring the horns, singing and chanting. I noticed that the older security men who were working at the Metro station were getting quite irritated at all the commotion. This was not good, as I needed to find a friendly security guy to help me with directions.
I asked two different security guys and both quickly pointed towards a flight of stairs while rapidly speaking Italian. The problem was that there were two different flights of stairs right next to each other. One flight was for the train headed to one end of the line and the second was for the train headed the opposite way. I still was not completely sure which way to go but decided to trust the two men and lugged my bag down the closest steep flight of stairs hoping that I would not then have to lug my bag back up the flight of stairs and then down a second flight of stairs if I chose the wrong stairway. At this point I was thinking about all that extra weight from the gifts I bought and how heavy it made my bag. Thank goodness this was the only time I had to lug that extra weight around. Once arriving at the bottom of the stairs, I saw a huge crowd of people waiting for the next train to arrive. I asked someone if this train went to the Cadorna Train station and was relieved to find out that I was on the correct side of the tracks.
My new worry was how I was going to make it onto the train with this huge crowd of people and my bags. My eyes met this other girl who was also waiting with a roll-on suitcase and we immediately felt like kindred spirits. The train arrived after about five minutes. I could see through the windows that the train was packed! We both pushed our way onto the train and staked out spots by the poles to hang on. Not only was the train packed but it was also very HOT. I still had to go to the bathroom, and was now squashed, sweating, and barely able to breathe. The thought of pickpockets started to enter my mind. I held all my things with death grips as the train took off. I counted the five stops until we reached the Cadorna stop. It probably only took 5-10 minutes but felt like it took at least 30 minutes. I maneuvered my way off the train and had to figure out where to go next, still having to go to the bathroom. The signs were not great at first but eventually they appeared and I found the Cadorna Train station.
One of the reasons I thought that taking the Malpensa Express would be a reasonable option was that I took this train last summer and it was a pretty quick ride. What I didnít realize was that I caught the train at the Saronno station last year, which was located half way in between the Cadorna Train station and the airport. This time, I was at the beginning of the line and the train was going to take almost an hour to get to the airport. It also cost twice as much as I remembered my train ticket costing last summer.
In the end, the cost of my journey (two train rides and a metro ride) only cost Ä1 more than it would have cost if I took the bus from Torino and about Ä8 more than it would have to take the train to Milan and then the bus to the Airport.
I bought my train ticket and boarded the train. I sat patiently until the train took off and then immediately headed for the toilet! Besides one large obnoxious group of people, the train ride was fine. One of the people in the group rudely picked up my luggage, which I neatly placed on the rack, threw it on top of other bags so that he could fit his bags onto the rack. The group was loud and very obnoxious during the entire train trip to the airport.
I was very happy to finally arrive at the airport but also was a little sad, as this really was the end of my trip. I stopped in the little food store at the airport to pick up some water and yogurt and then called the hotel for my shuttle ride. I headed towards the pick up spot where the shuttles pick up hotel customers, remembering the way from last year. Once arriving at the pick up spot, I only had to wait a couple of minutes until my shuttle arrived.
The ride was very short since the hotel was pretty close to the airport. I checked in, asked about dinner at the restaurant, and then went up to my room to take a long shower. I went back down to the restaurant for an early dinner. I wanted to finish dinner before the World Cup began so I could watch the entire match. My dinner was VERY expensive, definitely a rip off, as you are pretty much a captive audience with no other choices unless you have a car. I realize that the food at airport hotels is usually more expensive being a captive audience but thought that this hotel restaurant was pretty pricey. The food was okay, nothing special but also nothing to complain about. The only real complaint I had was that the waiter immediately started to pour me some water out of one of those tiny bottles of water before I even had a chance to ask for a large bottle. Because I was so thirsty, I ended up ordering the large bottle as well, paying Ä5 alone for the water.
After dinner, I went back up to my room to watch the game. Although I was still in Italy, it was probably the most unexciting place to be since there was really nowhere to go to watch the game with a crowd of passionate Italians. Except for the few hotel staff, all the customers were tourists and so the excitement was not very evident at the hotel. As everyone by now knows, Italy won the World Cup!! I was still happy to be in Italy watching the game, as after the game ended, I was able to watch hours of celebration on the TV. Also, Katia and I sent each other a few SMS' during the game, which was fun, and about an hour after the game ended, she called me screaming with exhilaration. She had me listen to the crowds. The people in her town were screaming and the horns were blaring. I was so happy for everyone in Italy!
I slept well. My room was quite comfortable and breakfast was filling. After paying my bill, I took the shuttle back to the airport. At the airport, all the Italian workers looked pretty tired after a very long night of celebration. I congratulated the passport control guy about the big win and he smiled. Of course I made the comment after I was okayed to go through the checkpoint. I also congratulated the girl at the Continental ticket counter and she smiled. My bag weighed 19 kilograms, which is about 41 pounds. She congratulated me for the weight of my bag. My plane took off on time. One of the flight attendants was wearing this cute Italian scarf/hat. He had us all sing the Italian chant that was sung at all the games. I am not sure if he was Italian or American but he was definitely pretty excited about the win.
On the first leg of my trip, I sat next to a woman that was visiting her son who recently married an Italian girl. She talked constantly and started to make a few racial comments, which made me feel very uncomfortable. I kept my headphones on most of the flight trying to watch the movies and ignore her. We landed on time in Newark. Everything went smoothly for my next connection. I sat next to a woman that did not speak much English during my final flight to Honolulu. She was going to Hawaii for the first time to visit her son who was stationed there. I never figured out exactly where she was from but I think she was from a country near Croatia.
There seemed to be a malfunction with the air blowers as there was a stream of cold air blowing on our necks for the entire flight. We both froze. The flight attendant who was assigned to our section was not very friendly. She told us that we should have chosen seats in the middle row of the plane if we didnít want cold air blowing on us. Now I have sat in both of those exact seats on previous trips and knew that it was not the seat choice that was the reason for the cold air. Of course there were no extra blankets available, so I sat with my fleece jacket wrapped around my neck and my blanket tightly bundled around me until we arrived in Honolulu. We arrived on time and I was very happy to get off that plane but already missed Italy.
My trip was magnificent and I now have more wonderful memories of Italy to cherish!
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