Taking the train from Florence to Milan

NH Grand Hotel Verdi (Milan, Italy) room keyI made it to Milan just after 1PM as scheduled. I am staying at NH Grand Hotel Verdi which is a €5 taxi from Milano Centrale train station. The hotel rooms are modern but the lobby, lifts and hallways are rather dated. Here I was thinking the Sheraton Firenze Hotel has olskool keys. Check out the behemoth to the right. That round thing is a solid brass disc about 1/2″ thick. The entire key chain easily weighs a pound. Yikes!

Anyway, the train was easy. The only blemish was the Italian woman seated directly across from me who insisted on using up all her anytime, free & clear, whenever minutes calling up her fifty-five faves during the 3 hour ride. I understand why the FAA doesn’t want to allow cell phones during flights. Thankfully I had the aural serenity provided by my Etymotic Research ER6i Isolator Earphones and Zune playing Salif Keita’s M’Bemba.

Alas, I’m here for work and only for a short time so I won’t have nearly as much time or things to blog.

The Internet access in Italy is horrible. Not only are hotels charging through the nose (€17-€22 or $23-$29 per day!) but the speeds and reliability are abysmal. Downloads don’t complete or take forever. Many sites are either blocked or cannot be found. It is extremely frustrating.

Sweden and Italy, Work and Play

For the first time since Spain in November 2006, I am going on a trip that will help me add to the list of countries I have traveled to for work or pleasure.

Flag of Sweden I am flying out first thing tomorrow for Stockholm, Sweden to keynote a conference and to hang out in our Swedish offices to meet my colleagues and get a better understanding of their market. It will be my first trip to Sweden or any of the Nordic countries for that matter. I don’t eat beef so I can’t say I am looking forward to sampling authentic Swedish meatballs, but we did get “smorgasbord” from the Swedes and plättar sounds interesting. Aside from just walking around what is said to be a beautiful city with beautiful waterways, I also plan to get my sip on at the famous Stockholm Ice Bar at the Nordic Sea Hotel. The entire bar, including its furniture, is made of ice and kept at a balmy 23° F.

I will be in Sweden for 4 days before heading to Florence, Italy for a little down time to tour the famous Tuscan city. There are just too many things to see and do in Florence. I will barely scratch the surface during my time there.

After a few days in Florence, I am hopping the train to Milan to keynote a similar conference there. The sites I want to see in Milan are Il Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral) and Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

Flag of Italy I then plan to take the train from Milan to Venice to see just how accurate The Venetian in Las Vegas is. I have stayed at The Venetian four times so it’s about time I see the real thing. Arguably, no city is known more for its waterways than Venice. Apparently, the land-lover thing to do is visit Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) and feed the pigeons. I wonder if they have Wi-Fi on those gondolas. Hmm…

Unfortunately, TB will not be joining me for this latest romp ’round Europe. The trip came about at the last minute and she just couldn’t juggle things around at work to meet me in Italy. I will go scout 3 of the most popular cities in Northern Italy and we will go back some day to see Rome among other parts of Italy. (The Vatican is a sovereign nation so we can get a +1 on the countries list at that time too.)