Milan (Italy), 25.11.2013
Born in Rome, the dislike of Milan has sort of been built into my DNA since childhood. After I got over this silly division with the years, I still never managed to get along with the city, even when I partially lived there for some time. Since this journey had changed my way of visiting and seeing places I thought I’d give Milan another try this time. There were a lot of friends to see again, that had kept contact throughout these months on the road by all means of digital communication to a point that even in the middle of the Mongolian steppe I was kept up to date on the latest developments in town.
I spent a couple of days in Milan where between lunches and dinners I toured the city, organised the next weeks and tried to accept the fact that I was slowly coming home. Somehow it felt like I didn’t want the journey to stop. I missed the vast spaces to drive through; the dust and dirt; the breathtaking sundowns and colors of the sky; the beer on the camping chair in front of the tent after a day on the road; the non roads, sand tracks, woods and steppe; the freedom and loneliness out there. My thoughts went back to Atyrau in Kazakhstan and how the morning I reached it, exhausted from a pretty bad night driving, I felt that this was it: no more wilderness, no more adventure. And now I stood here in Milan, walked through some of the most exclusive fashion and luxury districts in the world, in super rich Europe, with good food all around – and felt lost.
It was good to see so many known faces, listen to stories of daily Milan life that sounded remote to me. I tried to explain what had happened in these months out there but couldn’t really get the emotions and experience across. One evening I drove an hour out of town to see Fabrizio and Rosanna again, the Italian bikers from the Pamir highway. When their car stopped beside mine on a dark street in the woods I barely recognized them at first. Maybe I was waiting for them to show up on their bike to discuss the next leg of a joint route in Tajikistan. Over dinner we updated each other on what had happened since we parted in Ishkashim, Tajikistan. We kept talking for hours, and in company of people that themselves have travelled remembering the past months was magic.
During my walks through grey and rainy Milan in november, I saw the city with different eyes. Not on business but as a traveller, this relatively small town with a strong medieval heritage didn’t look that bad after all. The same attention to details and the preservation of heritage that I had found in central Italy here in the economic heart of the country was taken to another level. And as much as Italians complained about how the economic crisis was hitting them, it was hard to get a table without reservation in plenty of restaurants at night. Also, like I had first seen in Athens again, there was an enormous amount of people on the streets, strolling through town, shopping, dining, partying. From the fashion foto shoot on the street to fruit and flower corner shops putting their merchandise on display with an attention to detail from times long gone by – there were surprises waiting behind every corner.
During the weekend I tried to change my view on another spot I never managed to appreciate: the Lago di Como. This time, instead of driving to Como itself, I started my tour in Lecco, and indeed the road along the eastern coast was very beautiful. The snow covered Alps reflected on the lake’s clear water, boats sailed by, and in a small restaurant I tasted fish dishes from the lake before heading back to Milan as the daylight disappeared.
– Km driven: 342
– Hrs on the road: n/a
– Diesel l/100km: 9,2