Watching football in Italy

After a week’s hiking in the beautiful Julian Alps, I was looking forward to a few nights out in Ljubljana.  It was rather quieter than I had hoped, however (the first night aside where I met some people at the hostel and we hit a number of bars before ending up at the K4 club) but it was good to chill after a busy week’s hiking. I wandered around the city, especially enjoying all the bars and restaurants along the river, and took myself to a movie (so good seeing Stallone in action again – The Expendables).

I also headed out of the city to the Skojan Caves, which I highly recommend. I had no idea these caves existed and they are unreal; especially walking through a 90m canyon and crossing a 50m high bridge. All the information can be found here and I wouldn’t miss it.

I had e-mailed my cousin Greg for his birthday before I set off climbing Triglav and he replied saying a) thanks amd b) I’m in Milan next week if you’re around for Inter vs. Spurs. There was no way I could miss this opportunity so while I had absolutely no intention of visiting Italy, I said see you in Milan!

Milan is a trendy city with lots of very well dressed people and my 7 t-shirts and I certainly fitted right in! It is also very pricey (EUR5 for a beer in a pub) so I was only in town for two days. I spent the first afternoon milling about the Duomo Square and the Cathedral is  stunning. It is well worth climbing to the top for EUR5 charged and I was lucky to see a gorgeous sunset. That night I found a little side street pizzeria for dinner, when in Italy and all, and then a pub to watch the Milan v. Real Madrid game. There were already Spurs fans everywhere and you could feel the excitement.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWednesday was simply phenomenal. It was a real treat spending it with Greg and his mates who are life-long, die hard fans and their excitement, and mine too, was palpable. We enjoyed a divine two hr lunch ( the full 3 courses with beer and wine – my best lunch of the trip), drinks on the square and then drinks and snacks at the hotel before heading to the stadium in a chauffeured car – my usual style!

The San Siro is unreal. It certainly wasn’t full but there was a large crowd in and a great atmosphere. I had good seats on the 1st tier in line with the 6 yard box (thanks for the ticket Greg) and was right by the Inter fans so it was brilliant when they scored (and they did 4 times in the 1st half). Lots of singing, lots of jumping about & lots of flag waving

My new mate - 55 yrs of coming to the San Siro
My new mate – 55 years he’s been coming to the San Siro

Spurs came back to make it 4-3 in the 2nd half so it was a super game and a great hat-trick for Bale. I sat next to this old man who had been going to the stadium for 55 years, with his best memory being 44 yrs ago when Inter beat Milan 6-5, and it was a real treat chatting to him.

After the game we were driven back to Greg’s hotel where we had dinner before I reverted to my usual mode of transport and caught the bus home after 1.30. It was a day filled with so many laughs and memories and for Jazza the backpacker, it was, as they say, “And now for something completely different!”.

I’d asked Greg when he said he would sponsor my ticket if I was pushing my luck by asking if I could stay in his hotel room … he replied I was. Anyhow, after some drinks on the square, Greg andI had headed back to his hotel for a bit.  While I was lying on the couch watching TV and Greg was on his laptop, 2 ladies came to do turn down service and when they’d left, we noticed that they had put a pair of slippers on each side of the bed. It was a sign I said. Greg, so so good hanging out and thanks again for an awesome day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom Milan, I headed to Venice for a night. Nathalie, my couch surfing buddy, showed me round a few great local pubs (and a divine wine bar that served a fantastic plate of cold meats & cheeses) while I spent Friday wandering about & getting lost as one does in Venice. I took my life into my hands making my cheese rolls in St Mark’s Square with so many pigeons about so watch out should you attempt the same. You have been warned.

Next up I head back to Hungary to check out Budapest. I’ve heard great things about the city and am looking forward to it.

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