As much fun as I was having, eating my weight in gelato, pizza and pasta, I knew this couldn't go on forever, and my waistline agreed. I had a friend to see in Stuttgart and eventually a plane to catch in Amsterdam, which meant it was time to move on. That's the cool thing about Europe, the countries are so small and transportation's so great, you could really pop into a different country every day, two if you're feeling adventurous.
Although buses had been treating me well, I decided to mix up my routine and give car sharing a try. Various friends and travelers recommended car shares, saying it was usually quicker and sometimes cheaper than the bus. My only fear was that I'd be stuck in a car with a complete weirdo, not ideal for a seven hour journey. I got lucky and found a ride from Milan to Stuttgart, and thanks to a cheap Megabus ride from Florence this was doable.
My bus journey from Florence dropped me in the middle of the city as the sun was just beginning to set. I navigated the metro system east and before too long was at the front gate of Scream house, my home for the night. Reviews were mixed but prices were cheap and it was only one night, so I took my chances. The place is run by a single older woman, and you have to buzz anytime you want to enter, yet there's no curfew meaning this woman basically lives at the front desk, in fact I think I woke her from a nap when I arrived. Her greeting wasn't the 'rudeness' some reviewers critiqued however aside from laying out the basics, collecting my money and pointing out the highlights in the city, she didn't have much to say.
I figured I shouldn't waste the short time I had in the city so after dropping my bags I ventured back out to see the Cathedral, is there anything else worth seeing in this city? Thankfully the subway was efficient and easy to navigate, dropping me right where I needed to be, outside the duomo, along with hundreds of other tourists. The building is just as impressive as you'd imagine a gigantic gothic cathedral to be and lit up at night it was pretty spectacular. Knowing this would be my last night in Italy, for who knows how long, I thought it appropriate to end with one more gelato because why not?
Having little else to do I made my way back to the hostel, grabbed some essentials (food) for the next days car ride and called it a night. The next morning I was supposed to meet my driver at 8:30, but I still wanted to see a few things in the city. I woke up early, probably to the dismay of my dorm mates, packed up and ventured out. My first stop was another swing by the duomo, catching it with the first rays of daylight and a much smaller crowd than the night before. This comparison was yet another confirmation (to myself) that I'm a morning person; the crisp air, freshness of a new day is something I never regret soaking in.
From the duomo I snuck in one more stop at the castello, apparently the place to get in your morning exercise. Had I been staying longer I too probably would have joined in a morning run, but unfortunately an awkward stroll with my 10lb backpack would have to do. I had timed my visit near perfectly, arriving at the subway station with just enough time to travel the few stops where I'd be meeting my host, but Milan had different plans for me. The subway line was down which meant deciphering Italian instructions and battling the crowds of businessmen and women during their morning commute, definitely not the goodbye I was looking for. I managed to squeeze my way onto a bus, but due to some misunderstandings, inability to see where I was and general frustration, I soon found myself back where I started.
I was able to get in touch with my driver so we changed our meeting point, allowing me to take the metro line that was working and eventually meet up with my two travel companions. I felt bad for being the reason for our delay, but neither of the other two seemed to mind so I settled into the back seat and got comfortable. Unlike buses, I couldn't completely ignore my car mates, but thankfully they too didn't care to talk much. The ride was beautiful, north through Switzerland and it's beautiful landscape (see I told you I'd be back), eventually winding up in Stuttgart where I had another friend to meet