Aman & Nadya’s Guide to Milan and Venice
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to go to Milan. Maybe it’s the hype that comes along with Milan's fashion week or their status as one of the fashion capitals in the world, I thought, Milan, I must come and see you.
We flew from Paris to Milan and we board a bus from the airport, straight to the city centre. Milan hotels were pretty pricey, so we thought, hey, let’s just get a super simple room. Hence, Ibis it is. Most of the time, I usually avoid Ibis. It’s not that I have anything against them, the hotel occupancy is quite high, which means, longer waiting time and a very crowded hotel. But the location was pretty good, price not too steep, so Ibis it was.
We headed to the Duomo. Being the third largest church in the world, the minute you come out from the subway station, the spectacular view greets you. You just can’t help but stare at it in awe and wonder, how on earth did they built this?! So intricate and the enormity of it all, mindblowing. We got our tickets and paid to climb a never-ending flight of stairs, to reach the top. The Duomo rooftop is a whole other story, the view of the city was stunning and I remember we spent quite a bit of time there until the sun set.
We explored Galleria Vittoria Emanuele. It’s a huge shopping arcade but I wasn’t interested to buy anything, I just wanted to sit and have a nice cup of Italian coffee at the Gucci Café. We stood in the centre, looked up at the high ceiling and just gawked at the amazing architecture. Everything about the galleria was so beautiful and definitely the place to go for high end products.
Gucci Café was quite a pleasant experience. We each ordered a cup of coffee, I can’t remember exactly the type and a plate of biscuits. Quietly nibbling on our biscuits and watch the world pass by. Definitely a great place to people watch. A bit pricey but what else can you expect from Gucci? Haha!
To be honest, apart from the Duomo and Galleria Vittoria Emanuele, I felt that there was not much that Milan had to offer. Maybe we didn't really explore the other parts of Milan but one or two days would be enough to cover Milan.
Food wise, we couldn’t find any halal food so we settled for pasta with tomato sauce and Maggi Mee when we came back to our hotel! :D
From Milan, we took the Trenitalia to Venice. I can’t remember exactly how long the duration of the trip but it took quite a while to reach Venice.
You know all the things people tell you about Venice?
If you’ve watched The Tourist, Venice is exactly how it was portrayed in the movie. Canals in the place of roads and small little boats and gondolas floating on the glistening waters.
We arrived around Maghrib time, and went to get our 3-day pass for the Vaporetto ride. The Vaporetto is their main public transportation. To be honest, I don’t know if the day pass was worth the money because we rarely took the water bus. Most of the time, we walked through the alleys or we took the Traghetto, which are small gondolas the locals use to cross the Grand Canal. The only time we took the water bus was during our trip to and fro the train station and one more trip because we felt that it would be such a waste if we didn’t use it.
The water bus system is a bit confusing and you must find out beforehand which stop you’re alighting to reach your hotel. The hotels by the Grand Canal with their own private docks are super expensive so for the other hotels, you have to stop at the main area, and walk to your hotel. Some things to take note of, Venice has quite a number of random stairs and cobbled streets so getting to and fro your hotel might be a bit of a hassle. Always take note of your hotel’s location first before booking. Unless if you’re carrying a backpack then this should not be an issue.
Our hotel room was soooooo gorgeous that when we first stepped in, we just went OMGOMGOMG SO SO PRETTY?!?! Even Aman went around to take snapshots and video of our room in all its Venetian themed glory. It was soooooo pretty, I kid you not. If you’re on honeymoon, go on. Book it. You won’t regret, I promise.
Just around the corner from our hotel room was a halal pizza place. Apart from that, we couldn’t find any halal certified restaurants in our area. For dinner, we went to a nearby restaurant and ordered seafood and squid ink pasta. We also specifically asked them not to put any form of alcohol or meat based products in our food. In general, the restaurants in Venice are quite pricey so get your ka-ching ready.
We walked all the way to the central part of Venice which is Piazza San Marco. Along the dwindling passageways are many shops, left and right so we also window shopped while walking. You’ll find many shops selling embroidery, lace, Murano glass, masks and quills.
I won’t go on more about Venice because it has soooo much to offer. On our second day, we went on a free walking tour and the guide brought us off the beaten touristy track. We explored the areas frequented by locals and the guide kept telling us lots and lots of interesting facts about the island. It is quite a fast paced walking tour which takes almost three hours so be sure to wear good walking shoes if you’re thinking of joining them. The meeting place for the tour was right in front of our hotel so we had no problems finding them. The tour is free, all you have to do is to register beforehand and at the end of the tour, it’s up to you to tip your guide :)
We didn’t go on a gondola ride. As much as we would love to, it was too expensive for us. Instead, we took the Traghetto and feeling feeling as if we were on a gondola. If you have a lot of money to spare or it has been your long time dream to go on a gondola, by all means. We were happy to settle for the Traghetto.
Venice has so much character and so many stories to tell. From why they’re known for their masquerade masks, to the flooding that happens quite frequently when it rains or when the water level rises, we truly enjoyed Venice. Definitely a romantic destination, perfect for newlyweds.