Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Day Six - Plane Day Revisited, or Vacation Math

I'm seeing the flaw in my master plan, and that is this: the traveling part of a vacation isn't any fun. Once we are somewhere, I think it works better for us to stay at that place than to keep attempting to go other places. Which is bad for us to realize on leg two of our four leg trip. We've still got two more legs, plus the ride home. Scary.

The plane ride today from England to Milan, Italy wasn't so bad. The flight was 2 hours, left exactly on time and despite the ultra-no-frills that Ryanair promised, it was perfectly safe and comfortable. That is, if "comfortable as an airplane" is an apt sentence.

The problem was that our flight left at 11:50, but the only train that could get us there took three hours and left Harrogate at 6:06 a.m. Once we got to Milan, we were actually in Bergamo and had to take a bus for an hour to get to our hotel, which is outside the Milano Centrale railway station. But the station is gargantuan, and the bus dropped us off on the wrong side, so we had to hike around three sides of the building, dragging all of our stuff. I'm okay with all of this - we weren't lost, I found a map outside the bus stop and figured out where we were going, and that felt pretty good for someone as directionally challenged as myself. But by the time we got checked in and up to our hotel room, we had been on the move for 11 hours.

And this is why planning a trip on paper is nothing like the actual trip itself. Who could have predicted an eleven hour day when looking at a two hour flight that left from an airport maybe an hour and a half from my parent's house? This is what's called Vacation Math, when two plus two adds up to eleven. Or when traveling with four kids is eight times harder than traveling with one. Or when you have to pay movie theater prices for airplane food, without any actual entertainment (2.50 pounds for a water bottle, or about $5 US). Or how the exact same belongings don't fit into the exact same suitcase by the end of the trip. The clothes didn't gain weight, it's Vacation math. I think we'll see a lot more of it.

Milan, so far, has been a disappointment. All we have seen so far is the area around the train station, and I know why this is not the area they put on the cover of the Visit Lovely Milan brochure. It's like judging Los Angeles by Union Station.

But Milan seems a lot like Los Angeles in a lot of ways. When you visit L.A., you don't actually visit L.A. You visit Hollywood, and Disneyland, and the beach, but Los Angeles is a working city, so most of it is businesses and apartment buildings and office towers. Run down strip malls and such.

Milan around the train station is the same. Harrogate and York were wall-to-wall charm, but Milan is wall-to-wall walls. I'm learning that what I really want in a vacation spot is history, beautiful old buildings, and ambiance. I'm hoping that when we go out on Tuesday, we'll get to that part of town. The part that they show on brochures. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

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