Milan Days 1-2 - Italian Reconnaissance -- Lombardy and Lakes - CycleBlaze

July 17, 2021

Milan Days 1-2

Arrival into Milan was a breeze. No wait, only check of passport and then off we were into Italy. Part of the ease was due to the pre-trip COVID vetting. It was also due to a relative lack of passengers. Our flight was ⅞ full and no other flights arrived at the same time. Empty train into the city center where there was slightly more bustle. 

Ibis came through again (as they have in Sweden, Germany, etc) as a decent clean chain that makes an excellent recovery base. Rooms are small and spartan which is good as we explode and start to re-arrange bag contents.

Pizza is essential to life and we found a good spot close by. Zelda is a pizza snob/connoisseur and spends way too much time thinking about pizza. This was one of the 3 best pies in her life. Light thin crust, not cracker-like, just a wisp of crust to hold the toppings. Truly fresh arugula and a smoked fresh mozzarella (scamorza), pancetta for one. Simple marinara (no cheese on the other). Way more than we could eat. With some reluctance we left a quarter on the tin. Go to Pizza The King off Via Tunisia. 

Most of Friday was spent in recovery mode and scoping out inner Milan. Nearly all tourists are Italian. Some Americans and Europeans but less than 5%. This is the upside of COVID — fewer people. No big tour groups or walking selfie-sticks. Mostly families out on Friday night all around Duomo. Everyone has masks although less use outdoors. Enter any closed space and people put them on immediately. 

Everywhere are balconies and luscious plants. Not an arid part of Italy.
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Ken and Zelda masked-up. Hoping a flash mob dance will spring up.
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Milan Duomo on Friday night. Sedate — normal or COVID?
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The floods extending from the Netherlands to Switzerland are on our minds. The devastation is horrific and the forecast here was for rain. Never materialized although the sky was dark and heavy. Dinner bought at a bio shop. We needed greens, yogurt, nuts etc. which would have been hard to order at a proper restaurant. Not the night for a nice meal.

Saturday morning we awoke at 7 (Ibis spends good money on black out curtains) and felt ready to ride. Ken quickly re-assembled bikes and Zelda loaded a starting Garmin route to get out the door. 

Nearly there. This is a bike journal after all.
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Jay HanksRepacking the gear after weeks of sorting and packing it precedes every adventure, and the opportunity to add one more thing.
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A quick indicator of any cities bikability is the number of women riding bikes. It is about 50% in the city center. Plenty of kids in bike seats and at least one cargo bike spotted. 

Paying attention to Garmin, negotiating traffic, trying out a new seat, wobbling over cobblestones was our first multi-tasking job of the day. We have spent the last two years riding farm roads and trails so this was taking a bit of adjustment. Crossing a streetcar rail was Zelda’s undoing as her front tire caught in the track. Down she went and the Brompton low-frame reduced the damage. Ken’s first aid kit was employed on Day One for a scraped knee and knuckle. Yay for riding gloves!

We continued to ride over to the Castello Sforzesco and spent the next while doing placid trail rides, investigating the walls, and working out drawbridges. We tried to do every path before working our way out to the dedicated bike lane. There we saw a few other riders with helmets. Lots of people doing outdoor exercise classes and plenty of use on the fitness equipment installed on the grounds. Again all low-key, no big groups and mostly just regular Saturday life in any city. 

Castello … Resting after park exploration.
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Drawbridge mechanisms. Second set below at the moat level. Imagine needing two levels of drawbridges. Many pigeons and a few very happy cats living in the moat.
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So far all is going really well and we are gradually remembering how to deal with traffic, foreign languages, and bike life. Next jobs are to find luggage storage and route to Cremona.

Update: Ken went to Brompton Junction to check on storing travel bags while we are riding. Grazie! 

Part of the recorded zany route before Garmin became more hassle than help. Hoping it will be better for non-city routes. We came back through Public Gardens.
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Canal levels were high for July. Beautiful summer night.
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The aperitivo idea — drinks and noshes. Already ate them before remembering picture requirements.
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Today's ride: 20 km (12 miles)
Total: 20 km (12 miles)

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Rachael AndersonSorry to hear about your fall. Glad to see you made it there!
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Zelda MekBiggest bruise was my ego. Nearly recovered from that.
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