I had to remind myself today of the very thing I wrote about yesterday - discomfort is ok, it can lead to good things. The pep talk happened during the 2 hour and 15-minute train ride from Florence to Milan, during which I was standing the whole time. Apparently, when it comes to Eurostar, the trains are nice (not to mention expensive) and they go really fast, but they do not hesitate to overbook. And since today is a holiday, a lot of people were traveling home after having a long weekend away. I had a good conversation with a student from Naples, though - she made the second half of the trip go much faster. Can you believe how fast I've picked up Italian? Haha. Just kidding - she, of course, spoke English.
The director of the IES program took me to dinner tonight. It's a good thing I don't have the opportunity to live like this very often, or I would be a whale. The owner/chef was a character. He helped translate the menu for me, and when something was "multo bene," he'd say "yummy yummy" and laugh.
Milan is breathtaking. Although I'm not visiting during a typical tourist season, one advantage is seeing all of the Christmas lights out. Roberto, the IES Director, gave me a little walking tour of the downtown area after dinner. He has lived in Milan his whole life, so he knows it all. This is the first ever mall in the world. It's actually what gave inspiration to American malls - the idea of having a clustered, protected shopping area.
There is a McDonald's in this shopping mall directly across from Prada and Louis Vitton. Roberto explained that the condition under which McDonald's was allowed to have a store was by ditching their usual logo and adhering to the color scheme that is Milan's - gold and black. The result? You decide. I should check to see if they have a 1Euro menu.
One interesting thing about my visit to Florence. I told you that today was a holiday, but what I didn't realize was that it's equivalent to our Black Friday, except no major sales, everything is still super expensive. The streets and stores were jammed.
And one final, random generalization before I go to bed: Europeans spoil their kids even more than Americans do. They wait even longer to have them - most Europeans today don't even think about getting married until they're in their 30's - and they usually only have one. There are some darling, petted, beloved little children being pushed around the streets of Florence.
Hmmm . . . just had a thought. Maybe I'm just bitter because of the kid who actually had a seat on that train from Florence but never sat in it.