Italy – Part 2: I Don’t Want Your Friendship Bracelet

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Read PART 1

After screaming at 100km/hr on Italy’s first dive coaster, Oblivion, Doran and I headed toward Milan for our next stop in our Italy adventure. This was our first hotel stay and major city of the trip so I was excited to have someone make my bed everyday and seeing city life in Italy.

Other than being the “fashion capital” of Italy, Milan was a city I knew very little of.

The Duomo was something notable through out my research and so we thought we would see that. The subway station exit, of the same name, leads you directly to the front of the Duomo di Milano and what a reveal it was! Imagine the grandeur, crawling out of the depths of the underworld and seeing the bright blue sky and this amazing cathedral appear before your very eyes!

Yes, we were impressed.

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Other than shopping, one of the few interesting things worth visiting is the Teatro alla Scala museum. If you are lucky, you could witness a dress rehearsal and enjoy a nice view of the theatre.

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Sadly, one of the things I will remember most of Milan was the time I almost got in a fight with one of those guys who force friendship bracelets on you claiming they are “free”. At every tourist location you are presented with a handful of corn, so that you can take pictures of a pigeon attack, or a beaded bracelet because you just plain showed up. If you politely decline their generous offer, they will proceed to ask why. You know they’re free right? If you still say no, they put it on your shoulder. If you then raise your hand to say no, they will put it on your wrist.

These guys are EVERYWHERE and by the end of the day, I was not having it. I was getting really annoyed and was starting to avoid anyone that looked like they were walking towards me strings in hand. While window shopping, I turn around and see this man tying a bracelet on Doran. I reached out politely said no while trying push the man’s arms away. Then to my surprise, the man snapped and shouted: “Don’t Touch ME! I’ll f*** you up!” to which I retorted: “Go ahead, try it!” With my arms out wide ready in fight or flight mode, the man turned away continuing to shout expletives at me.

Having avoided an international crisis, we decided it was best to end the day and go back to the hotel. After some gelato of course.

On a positive note, Milan did provide some retail therapy. Although, all we could afford was Zara. Italian Zara.

Then it was off to La Spezia.

This port town was chosen as the place for us to sleep and store our things while we went hiking along the Liguria coast of Italy. The famous “Cinque Terre” (Five Lands) is a string of picturesque costal villages known for it’s beautiful hikes along the coast and inland. It only takes 30mins to 2 hours to hike between the cities so Doran and I thought it would be fun to do a morning hike from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza then to Corniglia then to Manarola, and end at Riomaggiore for their delicious pesto. However…. with the heat wave, narrow paths and steep inclines, we barely made it to Vernazza alive. Needless to say, once we arrived at Vernazza we decided it was in our best interest to take the trains if we still wanted to make it to Riomaggiore before sunset.

Despite the crazy hikes, the five villages and La Spezia are wonderful places to put on your itinerary on your next Italy trip. We had the best gelato at Gelateria Stella Marina and got some amazing pictures of the villages.

 

Italy – Part 3: When in Rome…

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Visual Overload – Shanghai Part 1

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Mainland China…. the place where everything you own comes from. Now it even has it’s very own Disneyland! Seeing how it is on my bucket list to go to all Disney parks around the world (it was 5/5 until Shanghai came along…) I had to go. So after waiting a couple months after opening day, Doran and I made our inaugural trip to Shanghai Disneyland, China.

I did some minor research so that I knew just enough to get around while not spoiling some of Disney’s trademark storytelling and surprises. My biggest worry from all the research was China’s crowd behaviours and lack of personal space, however, I am happy to report that I encountered very little stereotypical Chinese idiosyncrasies and had a WONDERFUL time there. The weather was unbearably hot, but the skies were blue and wait times were all under 30 mins. Below are some of my favourite moments during my 2 days at the park:

1. My first moment in any Disney park is always a favourite and this time was no different. However, this time was especially magical because it was the first time I get to see the largest Disney castle to-date!

2. The “Running of the Guests” is a scary yet exhilarating experience. You are allowed to purchase tickets before the park opens. Once you have your tickets, you are allowed to enter the park up to a certain point. When the time has come for the park to officially open, the rope drops and the guests are released into the wild. Chaos ensues because everyone is running for their first ride of the day. Thank goodness most people are not runners and we soon passed them to go on our very first ride.

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3. TRON Lightcycle Power Run is one of the best roller coasters Disney has to offer. With it’s innovative ride vehicles (you sit like a you are riding a motorcycle!!!) to the cool queues, this was such a great first impression for us of the park.

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4. Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure is BY FAR the most advanced ride I think I have ever seen. This ride took a Disney favourite and made it EVEN BETTER! From Jack Sparrow materializing from a skeleton to really feeling like you went under water, I never knew rides could be done like this. It’s so hard to explain without spoilers, so just get yourself over to Shanghai Disneyland ASAP!!!

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5. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Look at it. Just. Look. At. It.

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This place is amazing. Well done Disney. Well done.