October 31, 2014
Warning: This post is too wordy. Well, I guess that’s just what happens when you’re all alone and your brain just has so much stuff it needs to process! 😛 ☺

Hello from Milano!

This is Tessa from the Philippines. I’ll be sharing my trip to Italy here while Marcela, my Big Blog Exchange partner will be writing on my blog Googlygooeys.com.  I usually blog with colorful comics but with due respect to Marcela & Felipe’s really neat and clean format, I’ll probably just add some white cursive text at the most just to keep things a little more consistent. 🙂

As I’m writing this, it’s 5am. I can’t get my body to sleep anymore because it’s already lunch time in Manila. Last night was such an adventure. I was always the person who would complain that I should be left alone and decide on my own and voila, now, I have that chance all to myself. It’s my first time to travel in a country without having to visit any relatives and friends. Now I just realized how smart and brave the people are who do this on a regular basis.

Yesterday’s 8-hour leg of the flight was probably the fastest I’ve been in…because I was asleep or just eating most of the time. I couldn’t sleep the night before! I was just so excited! I think that kind of helped ensure that by the time I get to my hostel, I’d be off to dreamland. The 6-hour flight from Dubai to Milano was my favorite though. I felt like I had my home and office in the air—all at once. I had no seatmate so I had my mini extended bed, I was charging my laptop and cellphone while working on a last blog post and best of all, USD1.00 internet from the air for 600MB which I couldn’t even consume! #WhatIsAnInternetAddict

Milano 14 Feet with Leaves IMG_6892
Oi! She’s off & away!  I really spent so much time thinking about what I was going to wear but in the end, I will pretty much look like this 
In all the photos with my coat & boots. Hehehehe. 

Upon arriving in Milano, my first real challenge was to be able to familiarize myself with the local transportation system without looking so lost in a big city at 10 in the evening. I relied on three strategies: going where the crowd went, relying on all the phone apps to point me to the right direction and asking for help from fellow Filipinos!  I’m so lucky a Filipino couple helped me buy my train ticket for me. I know, this sounds like the funniest and shallowest thing but if you came from a long flight, half-asleep, half-awake and travelling for the first time in forever, this is just awesome! I inserted the card on a slot to my left and found myself in the wrong lane. *Doingk*

22 Bricks Milano IMG_6959

This is what always happens to me in almost all the train stations I’ve been to around the world because I’m left-handed.  *Ahh…The leftie’s life’s little struggles.*  Luckily, the couple saved me from the closing Metro doors. Woops! They sent me off looking like worried parents staring at some helpless child off to see the world with an expression on their faces that read “Oh no! Will this child even survive?  Will this child even be alive tomorrow?” Hahaha. This also reminds me of how one of my corporate bosses sent me off to my first ever selling trip during my sales training. I laughed on the inside. I realized, I should stop looking bewildered and I need to start stepping up. After all, my only and ultimate enemy is myself and my mind.

17 Enormity of Duomo Milano IMG_7036

Because I couldn’t locate the Metro and missed my second train going to the hostel, I ended up locating the meet up place for later, the amazing Duomo and the train that I’ll be riding for my trip to Vicenza tomorrow. Upon arriving at the hostel, they asked me if I already knew where I was going for the tour later and I confidently said yes. *If they only knew. Hahahaha.*

So, getting lost is not such a bad thing at all! Ha!

Well, that’s pretty much it for now. I can’t wait ‘til the sun is up so that I can start exploring the city and taking pictures!

November 1, 2014
Yesterday, I decided to spend most of my time offline. I actually thought that by the time I would start my Big Blog Exchange journey, I’d start flooding everyone with photos on Instagram. However, yesterday was different. If you watched Walter Mitty & remembered that moment when the snow leopard appeared & the photographer refused to take the photo? That’s what just happened. While my guide Marco Discalzi of Walkabout tours indulged with me with his knowledge about Milano, I initially felt obliged to document what we would see just because I know that at the end of the day, I’m tasked to share my experience with everyone. Then, a few minutes later, I found myself just listening and trying to absorb everything. Do you know that feeling when you’re in class and you don’t want to take notes anymore, you just want to listen because you don’t want to take it all in? That’s how it felt.

04 Lion with Pigeon Milano (Caption This) IMG_6898

Marco told me that Milano may be portrayed as this busy city.  But, aside from its major landmarks looks pretty unassuming on the outside but holds a lot of secrets on the inside. At the end of the trip, I found out about the existence of privately-owned secret gardens near the city center that are open to the public once a year in May (with some of them with pelicans & peacocks roaming the lawn).

10 Pigeon Upclose IMG_6921
Above: Pretty much how I look like when I wear my knitted jacket & trench coat.  I thought it was going to be sooo cold but the weather was just manageable. 🙂

The original canals and moats of Milan centuries ago, how Milan was once the capital of the Roman empire. I must admit that I’m not a history buff and that I used to study it like a robot for the sake of grades. But, if someone was actually passionately sharing his love for his city like its ambassador, then how could I not listen?

08 Netted Head Milano IMG_6907

Our first stop was the Duomo. Marco told me that it was a cathedral that looked like it was dripping upwards. True enough, the Duomo looked like the more organized and highly detailed version of a salactyte—those fluids that eventually crystallize inside caves. By detailed, I mean 3,700 statues outside the church alone. The Duomo was built from the 13th to the 20th century!
Gold bass relief
18 Inspiration for Statue of Liberty IMG_7043
The alleged Inspiration of Monsieur Bartholdi for the Statue of Liberty. *As I’m typing this, I can hear myself saying all the names with an authentic pronunciation…with feelings. Or, I’d like to think so.*

19 Duomo Statues Milano IMG_7055

The first tier of the Duomo was built in the 13th century and here’s an upclose photo of how detailed the sculptures are!

Marco also shared with me that one of his favorite descriptions of the Cathedral, was that of Mark Twain’s who said that it was like poetry in marble. I must admit that I was initially requesting that I skip Milan so that I can go visit Verona and Venice instead. Also, when I saw the Duomo as I was googling it, I dismissed it as just one of the cathedrals just because as a Catholic and that I’ve seen so many churches in my life and getting a bit desensitized by its majesty. The cathedral has definitely changed my mind!

05 Towering Duomo IMG_6906The towering cathedral. Duomo is Cathedral in Italian. So don’t be surprised if you see this word popping up over and over in Italy.

Well, we didn’t just visit the cathedral. The tour was initially supposed to last for three hours but we spent the whole day instead starting at ten and ending in the evening thanks to an extended spontaneous discussion about history, the Italian language—how it has made its way through the English language and how it’s related to the Filipino & Spanish languages, the dynamics of fame, how hospitals came to be, and how people have taken for granted the conveniences of today’s modern life. Woops! *So, that explains why I was offline. For my relatives who were worried, don’t worry, I’m still alive—more than alive actually.*

24 IMG_6966
Thanks to Marco, I finally calmed down and forgot and gotten over the fact that I should stop being paranoid about vendors and random people who love approaching tourists at an awkward distance. At the end of the day, I started nagging myself, “Hello?!?! You’re from Manila! Step it up! You should already know more than this! You didn’t sign up for Utopia, you signed up for an adventure!*


02 Basking in the Sun IMG_7002Marco excused himself for a while so he can stand under the sun.  I’m still trying to get used to this concept.  I come from a place where people do exactly the opposite.  I guess you just always take for granted what you have and Manila gets too much sun! 

16 Galeria IMG_7022The Galleria in Milan is your italian brand shopping heaven. 

17 Galeria Rooftop IMG_7020

It’s just so awesome and frustrating at the same time that no matter how many pictures I would take of this place, it seems like I won’t be able to share with you the real thing.  Marco shared with me some stories about how lighting was done before with a train that resembled a mouse that went around its dome.  Now I’m thinking, if I wasn’t walking around in Milan with a guide, I would have just dismissed this as a beautiful shopping place.

21 Milan Panoramic via iPhone

The panoramic shot from my trusty iPhone.

You have to be there to absorb all the details. I made a 360 Vine out of this, a panoramic shot from my iPhone, a photo with my fisheye but it just didn’t seem enough.  This is also the same way I feel about the Duomo!

16 Mosaic IMG_7019

Brevity may be an alien concept to me but you know, I’m trying to shorten what I’m trying to write here. Haha. You’ll have to meet me in person so that I can share with you the evrrryyyythingggg! Hehehe.

16 Fall in Full Swing 2IMG_6934

I went home that night contented and with a smile on my face as I was walking home towards the Pierro Rotta Hostel while watching four kids in Halloween costumes walking on dried leaves telling me that fall was indeed in full swing. ☺
00 Pink House IMG_7069Just one of the houses near Piero Rotta Hostel.  The Metro station is just five minutes away and I always pretend I’m house shopping.  If I were to pick a house in this neighborhood, this would be it!  How do they always get their shade of pink right?   I’m into colors and one of my pet peeves is when people get this blah shade of pink. Hahahaha *Such are my issues in life.*

I’m just grateful that my hostel is located in the middle of this calm neighborhood. It’s like your Savasana at the end of yoga. When you’re done exciting your senses, you need a place and a time to process it all.

So much for processing, I fell asleep right away on my bed that night. Haha.