Today I drove to Milano, Italia or Milan, Italy (in English) to my friends Rajesh & Jennifer. My original plan was to get up early around 6am, get ready, checkout and start driving as it is a long 5 to 5.5 hours drive from Munich. But you know, it happens, I got up late and when I checked out it was 930am. When I entered my friends address in the navigation computer it told me I will reach Milan at about 230pm.
And so...it all began...me driving my BMW in the much talked about European highways or Autobahn.
Driving inside cities in Europe is not an easy thing that too with a stick shift. Not all intersections have clear signs and many streets don’t have the street name where they are supposed to be. In that sense, streets in US are damn good. Here all streets have name and intersections are clear and you can always pinpoint your location if you managed to get to an intersection. In Europe ...forget it.
But highways, it's a different story. I noticed that European highways are little bit better than the highways in US but not as good as some told me (at least the route I took).
My route to Milan from Munich was through Innsbruck, Austria. That is what I needed as I wanted to avoid Swiss because I had no visa to enter Swiss. After I entered Austria the landscape started to change. I was seeing part of the Alps mountain range. God it was beautiful. It was amazing scenic view. I took lots of pictures while driving. It was so exciting to drive through those roads.
Then after a while I entered Italy. I did not expect the roads in Northern Italy, to be scenic. But I was totally wrong. I cannot explain it in words. You will have to see and experience it for yourself. I will post some pictures of it.
In the highway in Northern Italy, every .5 mile you have a SOS phone with a short shoulder lane. In case of emergency one need not walk more than .5 mile to make an SOS phone call.
Then my gas tank was nearing empty and I decided to fill some gas. Gas stations in Italy are little bit different. At least the one where I went was. Everything was written in Italian and I did not understand any single word. So I got the help of a local. It seems that first you have to select how much gas you want to fill. Full tank, or increments of €5, or €20.Then you pick the required pump(Diesel or Gas) and fill and then you will have to go inside to pay. Now, as lots of cars run on diesel in Europe, it’s common you will see at least 2 pumps for diesel and only one for gas. Gas is called Benzene in Italy.
After filling Benzene, I continued my journey and when I finally reached Milan, after almost 6 hours drive I did not feel tired. The drive was so fascinating. As I was asked by BMW to keep my engine revs below 4000 rpm for the first 2000 miles, I did not try to cross 100 mile barrier.
My friend Rajesh came to receive me at the train station in Arcore near Milan, as my navigation did not have his address in its database. Before that, I did get lost a little bit trying to follow the instructions and paid the price for feeding a not so accurate destination. But anyway, the good thing is I got to reach the destination.
Then I relaxed a little bit in my friend’s home and freshened up and we decided to go out to the Duomo Square in Milan. I entered the office parking space address of my friend’s office into the navigation computer and started to drive to Milan.
Oh man, I will have to accept that my driving sucs. This was the toughest part. The roads inside Milan are narrow, and cars are parked on both sides and people drive real crazy there. This is like driving in India. Thank God, somehow I managed to reach the destination after stalling my car 3-4 times on my way.huh...so embarassing. Anyway, if you plan to drive inside Milan, please be little careful. Drivers don’t give right of way, they don’t let you the road for courtesy sake, and it was kind of rude. The signals were also bad. They were so near to the stopping point in intersections, that once you stop there you can’t see the signal properly. You will have to either stop a little bit before the stop sign or you will have to look down your windshield to see the signals. It is very bad design. The signals and local roads in US cities are the best.
Anyway, then we went to the Duomo Square. It was fully crowded. Lots of people hanging out there and shopping and having fun. The Duomo Cathedral itself was awesome. We did see the Christmas tree lightings and Swarovski had a Christmas tree decorated with full of crystals. It was amazing. Very pretty.
Then we decided to go to the Absolut Icebar Milano. This Ice bar was opened recently in Milan, and I came to know about in Sun TV, a South Indian Tamil satellite channel. Even many people in Milan did not know about this. It was a very cool place. Literally :)
Below zero, I think the temperature is maintained at -5 deg Celsius. We were given an Eskimo type jacket and gloves and they served drinks inside. The glass was made of ice. I have some pictures of it too. We stayed there for a while and Rajesh and I had vodka and Jennifer had some fruit juice.
Then we decided to call it a day and headed home. After reaching home we had a Christmas cake called Panettone. My friends told that this cake is made in Italy only during Christmas. It was very delicious. Then we chatted for a while about the good times we all had when we were working together in Coimbatore. It was 12 midnight. We decided it’s time to catch some ZZZzzzsss.
This means 'Exit' from highway
Not flying to moon. Just inside a tunnel.
Shoulder lane with SOS phone
Swarovski Christmas tree in the Galleria
Galleria and Christmas tree at Duomo Square
The famous Corso Buenos Aires street
My GPS Navigation System
Glass in Icebar