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Friday, October 16, 2015

GAWA Day #31: Venice to Milan

Okay, I left you yesterday worried about my adventure from the St. Regis on San Clemente Island to the Four Points in Milan.  But first,  yes, I'm on an island, all of 15 acres:

The first church was built in 1131, and remained mostly occupied by monks for centuries.  However, a women's lunatic asylum was built here in 1844, and remained so until 1922.  A luxury hotel came in 2003, but the whole island was purchased by a Turkish company, Permak, given a make-over, and became a St. Regis, said to be the most luxurious hotel in Venice.  This is like living in a palace and church, not an insane asylum.  The furniture looks old and Victorian.

I should give a small history of St. Regis hotels, the first, which was built by John Jacob Astor in New York City in 1905.  The name comes from a French monk named Francis Regis, who was known for his hospitality to travelers in the 1700's.  St. Regis hotels occupy the highest rung of Starwood properties with the Luxury Collection.

So, after breakfast, with my large suitcase stored, I took the free marine shuttle to San Marcos Piazza in a raging rainstorm, somehow found my way to the right dock to catch another boat to the train station.  If not for a kind soul who coached me on what to do, I would never have made.  All this with a some luggage in bobbing boats.  

One problem, is that the boat itinerary nowhere indicated the Santa Lucia train station.  That same guy above said the stop was Ferroviaria.  I arrived an hour and a half early, something those blogs about Italian train stations say don't, for you can only get into trouble if you do.  Turns out that the Venice Santa Lucia station (right) is reasonably safe.

Not much to see, but the lines to purchase tickets were long and hardly moved.  Good thing Matteo got mine.  I went to the information desk and asked how would I get from this station to the Westin, my hotel when I returned to Venice.  They showed me the way and sold me a two-day pass for this boat, which got activated when I first used it.

One word of advice.  Carry 1 Euro coins when you're in Europe, for that is the only way you can get to use the restrooms at Santa Lucia station.  However, everything is shiny and spotless, with no bad smells.

I had seat 7D in cabin #2 to Milan, but all the cabins said #2 (turns out that there is a small electronic sign outside each cabin), so I found seat 7D, and, as the train was not to leave for another 20 minutes, I ate a Firenze sandwich (salami, cheese and arugula) with a beer, which I bought in the station.

The train left and after the first stop, two old couples came on board and indicated I had one of their seats.  I showed them my ticket, and they, in some awe, said, oh, you belong in prima class in the next cabin.  So I apologized and moved, but couldn't tell much difference between the two, except my cabin served champagne, wine, beer, soft drinks and coffee, for free, with chips of some sort.

Got to Milano Centrale and asked a couple of people about the direction to the Four Points Sheraton. Ten minutes later, with no incidents, I arrived.  The person who checked me in actually also got me an Expo ticket to avoid the long lines.  He gave me a map showing a subway station seven minutes away, then catch the blue line to the Expo.  He also said you can generally walk around Milan, even at night, but avoid the area around Milano Centrale.  Well, I still need to get back to Venice in three days, and the only way to get to the train station is to walk though the war zone.  Actually, I saw nothing that gave me any concern.

I asked the same staffer if there was any restaurant of noteworthiness in the nearby area, and he said around the corner was an excellent Italian restaurant.  He called, but couldn't get me a reservation for tonight, but got one for tomorrow night.  So I walked around and ended up with a truly weird fusion combination to have in my room:

I was watching NHK because this was sashimi on a green salad...with potato chips.  I also had no chopsticks, but like to eat with my fingers anyway.  You know, this wasn't bad at all!

I just invented a sashimi sandwich. Tomorrow, the Milan Expo plus dinner at a terrific Italian restaurant around the corner.

Typhoon Koppu is already at 110 MPH and will attain Category 4 strength before slamming into the middle the Philippines, then make a right run and roll right over the country, then regain Category 2 strength and head for Taiwan:

The devastation could be significant.

There are two more ocean storms to attain hurricane strength, but Tropical Depression 19-E will turn north before getting close to Hawaii and Champi will move away from Japan.


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