Back to Milan
After milking every single Parisian moment, it was time to head back to Milan for the final leg of our European vacation. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 8:30am from Charles de Gaulle Airport. This means that we have to be at the airport by 6:30am or 7am at the latest. While there were options to take the Metro or bus, it would’ve been challenging and risky knowing that 8 of us would have to do train transfers in order for us to make it to the airport. Fortunately, Em and Ben found a great deal on a private van for all 8 of us. This gave us the peace of mind that we’d make it to the airport all in one piece.
Weights and Measures (Ryanair vs. EasyJet)
A few days ago, I wrote about my experience with Ryanair. In general, they allow 2 baggage allowance (a luggage up to 22 lbs, and another smaller item up to 13 lbs). If you meet the criteria, along with the size of the baggage – then you will not be charged. Key thing was to also meet with weight limit. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve heard so much about Ryanair since articles were written about potential baggage nightmares with them. Fortunately for our party, that didn’t happen during our flight from Venice to Paris. 
EasyJet, the airline I booked for our flight from Paris to Milan, had a different policy. What struck me most was – NO WEIGHT LIMIT. This was the reason why we were confident enough to even shop in Paris knowing that weight would not be an issue.

Fast forward now to Monday morning, the shuttle ride from Boulogne-Billancourt (where our apartment was located), that was so convenient, and we made it to the airport by 6am. Check in was not an issue. Most of had our own carry-on luggage and a backpack. Since we had over 2 hours of wait time before our flight, we found ourselves sleeping right next to our gate.An hour prior to our flight, an announcement was made asking for volunteers to check in our luggage for free. We decided to do it, all 8 of us. Once we got to the desk, we were told that each of our 2nd item (backpack or purse) will cost us $55 Euros. WHAAAATTTT???? That’s 8 x $55 Euros -> $440 Euros!!! The desk agent said that only 1 baggage is allowed per person. Anything extra is $55 Euros each. We left the desk upset. We tried to empty our backpacks and squeezed them in our luggage. For my family, from 4 backpacks, we ended up with 2 backpacks as a carry-on, therefore, we ended up paying $110 Euros. It was a tough pill to swallow, but what could we do at that point.

So there’s a lesson learned for us, and for any of you who plan on flying with EasyJet, while weight is not an issue, the number of baggage you bring is limited if you want to pay $0. And for that, I can’t say I’m an EasyJet fan. The main saving grace was the ticket price, it  was close to peanuts which is why I decided to fly with EasyJet.
Milan…we got this!
After the baggage mishap, the flight to Milan was relatively unadventurous, no issues whatsoever. You might be asking why we flew back to Milan? In a perfect world, it would have been ideal to fly in to one place, and on the return flight back to LA, we could have chosen a different country or city. In our case, the airfare deal was JFK-MIlan, and Milan-JFK. So I tried to make the itinerary work where we visited other cities during our European trip.
Once we arrived in Milan I made contact with Gemma. It turns out that the day after Easter is a holiday for them. We agreed to meet them somewhere near Duomo. Unlike our first visit to Milan where we stayed in an apartment, for this last night in Milan, I booked us at the Boscolo Milano Hotel, part of Marriott’s Autograph collection. It was more tricky to find an apartment for 8 people for 1 night, so this hotel booking was the right thing for us to do. 
To get to Milan from the airport, we purchased train tickets. This time we had no issue. A week ago, we had ticketing and credit card issues, not this time. We got this. It was a 35 minute train ride from the airport to Cadorna train station. From there, we took a cab that then  took us directly to our home for the next 24 hours, Boscolo Milano. The moment we set foot in the hotel, it was quite evident that it was not an ordinary hotel. It was Marriott’s high end hotel. it was not a traditional hotel, but quite trendy. Since I was able to use my Marriott points for the reservation, our rooms were upgraded. We were also allowed to check in earlier than usual, and for that we were thankful.
The plan now is to meet Gemma somewhere near Duomo. The hotel was no more than 10 minutes of leisurely walk to Duomo. We found a local restaurant and we were seated right outside to dine al fresco. Soon after, Gemma found us. She brought along little Sophia with her. it was so good to see them again. As a surprise, Gemma handed me a green box. I forgot that she promised to bake me something – her delicious carrot cake! Now that was a wonderful treat. I love…love…love…did I say love? Yes, I love carrot cake! Hers was sprinkled with all sorts of nuts including pistachios. We couldn’t wait to try it.
Lake Como, Italy
We had no major plans for this last leg of our trip. If I failed to mention this before, we were extremely tired from all the walking and sightseeing. We could’ve easily just lounged in our hotel room, however, we were given another option to see one more sight, Lake Como. We all decided to do a quick round trip. 
Geri, Gemma’s husband, joined us as well. We all took a train to Lake Como which was about a 1-hour train ride. The best part of the ride? Eating Gemma’s carrot cake. She came very prepared with forks and plates, and we were able to share the cake. It was exactly how I liked it…not too sweet. It was chunky, and the top  had this layer of frosting that did not overpower the cake. Thank you, Gemma!!!!
We arrived at the Como Lago train station past 3pm. It was crowded, very crowded. After all, it was a holiday to begin with. Right when we walked out of the station, we got to see Lake Como. Surrounding Lake Como to the right were the hillside homes. We walked towards a nearby park and what I’d like to call a little pier and snapped a few family pictures. After that, we walked across the street to the little plaza and found a gelateria. It has become a daily ritual now to try a gelato. 

Our plan to do a quick roundtrip was halted by the enormous crowd. When we headed back to the train station to catch the 5:17pm train, it was evident that it was packed with passengers and there was no way we’d squeeze in our party in to that train. Our next choice was to get on the 5:47pm train. We walked over to that train. The doors weren’t opened yet. But right outside each car, there must’ve have 50-60 people waiting outside. Once the door opened up, a few of us found seats, while some of us sat on the steps, while others stood. We were packed like sardines. I sat with Nancy and Madison in a 2-seater area, and found ways to uncomfortably squeeze myself in there. You gotta do what you gotta do. Weariness grew over us, signs that we’ve been vacationing for awhile now. The hourlong ride remained pack until the last 3 stops before making it back to Milan.

We finally got to Milan’s Cadorna station by 7pm and with one more subway ride, Gemma and Geri took us back to Pizza Sprontini, the same pizza place we’ve all been talking about during our entire trip. Em and Nancy went to a local grocery to shop for Italian goodies/chocolates. The rest of us stayed and ate our pizza. Again, it was delicious. Maybe it was even better than the first time. I’m so glad that we ate here since we were already familiar with the food. The cheese! Oh that cheese. It was all about the cheese.


Grazie Gemma, Geri, and Sophia
After dinner, we walked to the nearest tram to head back to our hotel. This was the final time that we’d be with Gemma and family. They live not far from Pizza Sprontini. Since we are now “Milan experts”, we told them there was no need to take us our hotel anymore. They still gave us clear directions how to go get our hotel. But it was time to say goodbye, or so long, or see you later. Thank you, Gemma, Geri, and Sophia – for being part of our European vacation. You made our Milan visit worthwhile, and thank you for accommodating all our crazy requests. We hope to see you again in the future, whether it’s on a return trip to Italy, or whenever you visit the US. God bless!!!

Boscolo Milano, it’s what the doctor ordered
We made it back to our hotel safe and sound. We decided to head down to the pool located in the basement. We had no idea what we were in for…a treat. After nearly 2 weeks of walking, the pool at Boscolo Milano was exactly the thing we needed to cap off our vacation. It was warm, therapeutic, relaxing, everything we needed it to be at that point. It was a good way to unwind, and we found ourselves appreciating what the past 2 weeks were for our families.  The pool area was actually a spa. There was also a sauna, and other rooms to help you relax. Just writing about it now brings me back to that zen moment. Thank you, Boscolo. I hope to return again soon.

Chop, chop, chop!
Shop, shop, shop!
We got up at 730am, finally,  we had close to 8 hours of sleep. We all headed down to the complimentary buffet. When you hear the words complimentary and buffet in a hotel – the words continental breakfast quickly come to mind. But it was nowhere close to that. It had the finest cheeses, meats fruits, soup, salad, juices, and much more. Coffee selection was your espresso choices. I think we stayed there over an hour. I’m telling you, we were on a relaxation mode at this point. After breakfast, we all decided to meet downstairs by 12:30pm so we could all catch a train to go back to the airport for our 4:10pm flight.
After breakfast, instead of heading back to the room to pack, Nancy was on a mission. Two weeks ago, she stopped by at the Louis Vuitton store near the Duomo (inside Galeria V. Emanuel). She had her eyes set on a few items. She decided not to get them then, and also avoided shopping at the other Louis Vuitton stores in Florence, Venice, and Paris. Why? If she did, we’d be carrying those purchases with us during the entire trip. The challenge: we had less than 2 hours to shop. The store opened at 10am and we were there by 10:15am. The sales lady found out we were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary so she came out with a couple of champagne flutes to help toast our anniversary (well, I think it was more about getting us in the mood to shop). By 10:30am, that LV store was already bustling with customers. Fortunately, we found one dedicated sales associate who helped us over the next hour. It was a treat to see Nancy pick out her selection of different purses and wallets. While she did that, I just kept myself busy by roaming around the store and watched other people go about their purchases.

Nancy finished shopping for her LV goodies by 11:20, and after a lengthy transaction using our passport info etc, we made our way back to Boscolo Milano by 11:45am. We weren’t fully packed yet. The next 20 minutes were dedicated to packing the rest of our items for our flight back to the US. We accomplished that and met and Em/Ben and family downstairs, and we all took a cab and headed to Cadorna train station and caught the train back to Malpensa Airport.

Our flight back to New York with Emirates Airline was delayed for about an hour. It was no big deal. We were just glad that we made it to the airport safely, took care of credits with the Milan customs, and so for nearly 2 hours, we hung around the airport, ate our last Italian meal and relaxed. Our European vacation has come to an end. It was definitely jam packed with unforgettable memories. When I write my final entry for my European blog, I will have a section dedicated to our takeaway….so stay tuned. In the meantime, thanks for reading. The next entry is our 1 day back in NYC.

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