June 26-July 10, 2013: A couple of months ago, we learned that Chris was being sent on a three-week training course so he could be certified on another type of helicopter. The course would be in Italy, about an hour north of Milan. The only downside being that he had to take it during his time off. And that meant we would miss spending his birthday and our anniversary together. That just didn’t seem right. So we came up with the only logical solution… I would tag along. Yay!
Of course, we worried about what to do with Nukaat while we were away. Luckily, a few people recommended a non-profit organization called Wildlife in Need to us. Not only do they rescue injured wildlife, but they also board pets and have a vet on staff. After going to check it out, I felt pretty comfortable leaving kitty in their hands. It isn’t fancy but the people working there seem to genuinely love animals.
With that sorted, Chris left a few days before me and got settled in at the hotel where we would stay. I flew Emirates Air via Dubai and that was a bit of an eye opener for me, having never really been in the Middle East before. I couldn’t get over the views from the plane of the seemingly endless dry, flat, red desert, crisscrossed by power lines and sixteen lane superhighways, and the jarring lush green rectangles denoting farms and golf courses. Sadly, no sightings of The Palms or the Burj Al Arab six-star hotel.
The airport in Dubai is impressive and it was fun to people watch and guess nationalities. There are flights to and from everywhere! The sheiks are fascinating and I couldn’t help but wonder about the women wearing burqas. When all they show is their eyes, there is a lot of mystery.
Finally arriving in Milan, I quickly cleared immigration and grabbed my bag and was whisked off in a private car to Sesto Calende, a small town on the river Ticino. After finding Chris at the hotel and freshening up, we went for a short stroll to the town square for a birthday drink or two. We would end up spending a fair amount of time in little cafes in the square and along the riverfront during our stay.
With two weeks to explore, but with Chris only free on our two weekends together, we had to plan our time carefully. There was research to be done in advance of bringing MOKEN to the Mediterranean, so a trip to the Italian Riviera was a definite must. And the Swiss Alps were visible just beyond Lago Maggiore with incredible mountain passes just waiting to be driven and friends to be seen. And then there were the picturesque towns skirting Lago Maggiore itself, and of course Milan.
But these are topics for other blog posts on another day.