Having started a new job, holiday allowance is in a much shorter supply than in my last place. Some might see that as a sign from the holiday Gods (or my bank account) to slow down on the holiday bookings... yeah, not today matey.
CLEARLY this means it is time to become one of those people that just dash off to the continent for the weekend instead, right?
A quick chat with my housemates, a Skyscanner search and an AirBnb message later, and our little trio were off to Milan. Wham bam thank-you ma'am.
Now, I'm big on planning. I like a list, I like an itinerary; organizing is my thing. A spontaneous holiday isn't my usual kind of vibe, but, sometimes, you've gotta go with the flow.
Pros - Erm, GOING ON A FRIGGING HOLIDAY. And not one you've got to wait for two months to come around either. In less than three weeks, we would be on a plane, in a sunny foreign country with great food and a great culture. Some parts in Italy can seem a bit 'disheveled' - it is part of the charm though, and I love it - but Milan appears refined, pruned and modern throughout.
Another difference was the driving. It shocked me, as it was almost normal! If you've ever been to Rome, Naples, Amalfi, or any road in Italy for that matter, you'll know the madness that is an Italian driver. Crossing the road is usually like a dance with death, but not in Milano.
The AirBnb was amazing too. It was very centrally located and our host was brilliant. My favourite room in a house is always a bathroom, and this one was top notch.
Cons - Booking a holiday in the same month you intend to travel does require some planning. One must remember that from one paycheck, you will need to pay for the following, at least:
- travel insurance
- travel money
Yeah, I didn't take this into consideration. Whoops.
Being a Tourist
Pros - Obviously, everyone knows about the Duomo. It is absolutely beautiful, and looks breathtaking in white against a backdrop of blue sunny sky. The architecture is so intricate. Not pre-buying tickets and going inside actually worked out better as we had some time to chill out. Sitting in a cafe across the road from the Duomo allows an incredible view of the magnificent church, the piazza and surrounding palm trees and it gives a real holiday vibe one doesn't often get from a city break.
Weirdly, we also visited a graveyard. The City of the Dead, which isn't in the centre of Milan, was eerie but incredibly cool. The graves are crafted statues that tell a story and go on for miles (okay, that's an exaggeration, but it is huge) and the church in the middle is very picturesque. It kind of feels a European version of the big temple in Brighton.
Not planning an itinerary had other pros too, as it allowed us to get lost and immersed in the city, We wouldn't have planned to see the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, filled with expensive designer shops, as it was definitely out of our price range. However, had we not wandered through after leaving the Duomo, we would have missed the incredibility ornate architecture of the building and amazingly artistic window displays. Being welcomed into a locked shop that sells products each worth thousands and thousands euros made me ambitious for that kind of lifestyle.
TOP TIP: Citymapper is a spontaneous traveler's best friend. We were able to get from place to place easily and quickly thanks to the routes on the app (and thanks to my flatmates actually have internet, unlike my phone!)
Cons - There were some downfalls to the lack of planning of this trip. When traveling, I don't like to miss out on seeing any notable sights of that country and, unfortunately, I had to do so with the original Leonardo Di Vinci's Last Supper painting. We went to the church and museum, but all slots were full for TWO WEEKS. We learned it is best to book online. Instead, we ate gelato at a little cafe that had a Last Supper print under the tele. Cute.
The spontaneity of the trip also resulted in some extra walking (and missing out on drinking!) in the evenings. As we hadn't fully planned bars to visit, we ended up bar hopping a lot on the Saturday night...without the bars. Google even led us to a club that had been turned into flats. Grr.
There are actually no cons. what. so. ever. We drank at warm cafe bars by the canal, by the Duomo, in the sun, and ate the tastiest pizza and pasta. The herbs in Italy make the simplest dishes incredible.
After eating a particularly tasty serving of pasta, we spotted an ice cream store that had a 15 minute long queue. What do you do when you see one of those? Join it, of course! The ice-cream combos were completely worth it and we indulged as we shuffle-jogged to the train station and hot footed it to the airport.
For someone like me who likes to plan plan plan, being completely spontaneous can be a tad stressful. I am prone to still trying to have a little plan, I cannae help myself. Thankfully, I had great travel buddies - my housemates - so it was probably the least stressful trip I've been on in a while. Despite the stupid plane delays and mad dash through Gatwick Airport at 1:15 in the morning when we got home. We had great laughs, starting with the Girl on the Train (a very chatty, friendly and kind of crazy lady who we sat next to on the way to the airport) and it lasted throughout. And, obvs, we had an unspoken bathroom schedule that could rival Big Bang's Sheldon.