The Best McDonald’s Is Not In Milan

In The Art of Travel, 11. Travails, Florence, Places by sabeenaLeave a Comment

I, no, never have tried to go down an escalator while it was going up. That is unmatchable, that Wolf Blitzer video is just pure gold. I have quite a few travel horror stories, I did previously mention that I get lost everywhere, and that certainly does lead to a million mishaps. Traveling with family is certainly labor. My family came to visit me during my recent fall break, and I assumed the role of travel guide for the entirety of the trip. Don’t worry, I have gotten significantly better at directions, thank you Google Maps.

We traveled to Switzerland to see the Swiss Alps. Despite my parents never inspiring any sense of wanderlust onto me, I picked up some sort of desire to venture out into the world. We were to get on our horrendous 7:30 AM train to Milan, then we have approximately nine minutes to switch trains to Zurich. I figured it would be alright, Milan’s train station only posts timings about fifteen minutes in advance regardless.

We had waited an hour to board our 7:30 AM train, my dad overly careful (as always) not to miss it. Once we got on, the rest of my family fell asleep, and I lay awake watching my own reflection pass in the glass. I was always quite bad at falling asleep vertically, and I rarely got rest on flights and trains. Certainly not the best quality in a traveler, but I always found solitude in moving landscape.

That was until an announcement, of course in Italian first, came on. I understood it, my family didn’t budge until the English translation followed.

“We will be about twenty minutes delayed due to a technical issue. Thank you for your understanding.”

And that’s when the Singhanis lost it. My parents both looked at each other in absolute horror, as if missing our next train was a major hit to their bank account, something only a lack of intelligent planning caused. Before setting any expectations, I Googled the ticketing policy, which stated that the ticket window at the train station would easily transfer the ticket to the next available train. The next available train was about three hours away, leaving us time to see Milan. But, instead of shedding this wisdom onto my parents, letting them know that we would indeed be fine, I left them to their own devices. I thought it would be interesting, I’m the friend that leads random social experiments.

They kept freaking out. Kept saying they shouldn’t have booked something so close. I went to the bathroom, I couldn’t sit there with them and maintain a straight face. I came back to our seat, let them have their field day with their worries, and then interrupted their conversation with a direct quote from TrenItalia.

What’s funny about this experience, however, is that their reactions remained the same. No one fell back asleep, my parents remained on edge for the rest of the train ride. We got to Milano Centrale, and they bolted to the desk, only to get the exact ticket to Zurich I had looked up. This way, we explored Milan (mostly the McDonald’s next to the train station) and got to Zurich just in time to check into our hotel.

I’ve found that when you take a risk and the worst happens, everything else seems smaller and focus is shifted to the important things. And, for the most part, things end up working out. Like Nietzsche said, “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” Not sure who is stronger in this situation, but if that quote makes someone feel better, I’m okay with that.

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