Gladiators wielding penalties welcome to Milano

I hope that you are well and happy. In Zürich, we’re celebrating a week of absolutely beautiful sunny weather. It’s been simply spectacular..

“Stop it, Dan!” Nazy interjects. “You’ll ruin everything.”


“Writing about good weather will make it change.”

“Really? I think I’ll take the car to the car wash.”

“Dan!” Nazy replied.

This week, Nazy and I drove to Milan to attend MIDO, a annual eyeglass exhibition. Traffic was non-existent. For the first time ever, we experienced no queues at the Gotthard Tunnel. The border crossing was noticeable only because of a lower speed limit. We continued to move with alacrity in Italy even though
the traffic lanes had narrowed while toll booths sprouted like dandelions and reproduced like fruit flies at a sugar factory.

“Why do they do this?” Nazy asked as I dropped €2.50 into an automated counting machine.

“They want the people who use the transport system to pay for the system,” I explained, unaware that subsequent events would validate this observation.

The total drive time was 3 hours and 4 minutes. And, as I explained to Nazy when we arrived at the hotel parking lot:: “We never exceeded the speed limit until we got into Italy - where it’s expected.”


“Well, I set the cruise control in Switzerland for 3 KPH over the speed limit, The laser guided cameras don’t engage until you’re 4 KPH faster than the limit.”

Noting that there was no ‘check-in’ lane in front of the hotel, we parked on the -4 level of the parking garage. As I gathered a random selection of disjoint shoulder bags, rolling suitcases, shoe boxes, lunch bags and my briefcase, I realized that it wasn’t going to be easy to get all this stuff to the elevator. Staggering under the load, I marched off...

in the wrong direction,” I thought as we turned the 3rd corner of the rectangular and cavernous subterranean parking bunker.
“Shouldn’t we have gone the other way?” Nazy asked when the
Hotel Entrance came into view.
I sighed.

“And why are you dragging the carry-on’s?”

Because my muscles are so cramped they’ve made my legs shorter, causing the carry-on’s to make contact with the floor,” I thought, finger poised on the ÛP button. Then I spotted the sign:


We climbed up four flights of stairs to get to the upper level of a basement parking garage. We walked to the hotel elevator which was, thankfully, functional. As I was about to check in, a bellboy with a giant rolling trolley spotted us. I whispered instructions to Nazy:

We used up our Euros at the toll booths and I don’t want to tip this bozo with a cart after we’ve done all the hard work.”

We got a room upgrade (the hotel has no association with the Star Alliance or United Airlines). Nazy and I decided to take the Metro to the center of Milan where we could..

“Shop before dinner, Dan.”

Aware that we’d be in Milan for 2 days, I spotted a deal on transport fees - a 48 hour,
unlimited public transportation pass. We got two.

The Duomo area was bustling and beautiful. We strolled around the town and had a nice dinner - which, with wine, cost half of what a similar culinary experience would have entailed in Switzerland.

The MIDO exhibition took place in the exhibition center that was located on the outskirts of Milan. Savvy, Nazy and I, using our ‘unlimited’ passes, took the
Yellow Line to the Red Line. A mere 16 stops later we arrived at our station. Exiting the Metro, I noticed a cordon of heavily armed police blocking our egress. Funneled into the center of the blockade, we were interrogated...

This guy looks like a gladiator,” I thought. “A gladiator who was victorious over a pride of lions.”

“Your ticket Milan,” the mercenary opened.

“That’s because we’re in Milan,” I replied.

“Your ticket urban Milan. This no urban.”

“They told us this was an unlimited ticket,” Nazy interjected.

“Unlimited urban. This no urban. You pay..”

“.. we will pay the difference,” Nazy interrupted. “How much?”

“You pay penalty.”

“We pay difference.”

“Penalty €51.50. One time for you,” he glared at me, “and one more for you,” he looked at Nazy.

“We didn’t know,” Nazy replied.

“You pay.”

“I don’t have €100 cash,” I responded, thinking that would shut him up.

“You go bank machine.” He grabbed my arm in a kind offer to escort me.

“You go to he...”

“... You are not friendly,” Nazy shouted.

I thought about Darius’ experience in Mozambique: “Well, Dad,” Darius had said. “The police (with AK-47s) stopped me on a bogus illegal turning charge and escorted me to the ATM machine to pay the fine in cash.” I told him that he should stick to normal countries.

I’m striking Italy from my normal list,” I thought. I pointed to a sign on the floor welcoming us to Milan. “See!” I turned to my escort. “It says ‘Welcome to Milan’. You are not welcoming.”

Welcome to Milan
I collected two €50 bills from the ATM, displayed them and then crumpled the pristine currency into a little round ball - which I dropped into his hand. He frowned and began to write a receipt. I planned to take the receipt and throw it on the ground, but Nazy told him that we didn’t want a receipt and dragged me away.

“There’s probably a fine for littering,” She explained. “And wasn’t the unlimited pass your idea?”

“Hrumph,” I replied.

The MIDO meetings were interesting and we enjoyed seeing Milan again. Nazy got some Olives and Olive Oil and we had another relatively inexpensive meal before it was time to head home. The parking lot elevator still had the ‘Defekt’ sign, but an attendant fixed that problem by removing the sign. At Nazy’s ‘suggestion’, we stopped at a ‘Designer Style Outlet’ (sort of) on the way home.

“I don’t recognize these designers,” I said.

“Me either,” Nazy replied.

If Nazy doesn’t know them, this is the wrong place,” I thought.

“This is the wrong place,” Nazy continued. “Let’s go home.

Milan Tram

Milan old trame

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