Milan (or How To Make A Martini)

Trip Start Sep 01, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Monday, February 6, 2006

I arrive in Milan around 11am. I was planning on seeing some sights after I find out how to and when I can get a train to Paris. God, that sounds so romantic, don't it? Well, there was a train leaving in like an hour, but I needed time to chill and I did want to look around. So I was having some trouble with the ticket thing and had to keep going to an internet cafe to sort things out, but I finally decided on a ticket for an overnight train leaving at 11pmish. So that gave me 12 hours, or by this time, about 8 hours.

In the train station I just had to take a picture of these two cops who were talking to a woman. Did you know that the Italian police officer's uniforms were designed by Da Vinci? It's probably the only piece of wearable art in the world! And they are all over. Anyway, I didn't know if it was cool to take a picture (911 syndrome and all)so I tried to take one incognito-ish. About a minute later they walk up to me and ask for my id. I did and also produced my train ticket. This seemed to appease them and I got my picture! Yeah! I have included it for your pleasure.

So after that I was thirsty so I got some help from a guy on the street to find a nice bar. I walked in and there was one other guy there. Although he could barely speak English I could tell he had a miserable cold. I sat two seats away. So I asked the Bartender for a Martini.
Now, you gotta understand, I THOUGHT I was a martini afficionado, as many people will tell you, I am quite familiar with many types of martini. I was, however, NOT familiar with Italian martinis. They use nothing but Vermouth in their martinis. Either sweet Bianco, or extra sweet Rosso. The first time I ordered one about two days before and he asked which I wanted I unassumingly said Rosso, which nearly sent me into a diabetic coma and I am not diabetic!! So not being familiar with these types of Vermouth, the next time I ordered one I ordered it Bianco, thinking it would be of the extra dry variety. Well let's just leave it at it NOT being extra dry to say the least.

So this time I was more cautious. I stopped him in his tracks before he could even start to reach for the Vermouth bottle and explained to him what I wanted. I had to explain that this is what I am used to even though it sounds weird to him. He just kept saying it was not a Martini. I ordered it vodka, NO Vermouth, shaken, three olives(one for the beginning, middle and end). This whole process took quite a long time because with every ingrediant I also had to tell him how to do it and then he had to stand there for a few minutes comprehending that I basically wanted a glass of alcohol and then move on. Plus he shook the drink for seriously like 45 seconds. That may not sound like a long time, but try it out when your really thirsty, craving a martini, and two feet away from aforementioned drink. He finally pours it and then gives me the olives on a separate plate with a separate tooth pick. BUT they were garlic stuffed olives which was a thing of beauty. So three martinis and two hours later I thought it prudent to go for a walk to get some air and food.

There was a restaurant and bar I wanted to go to. So I wobbily sauntered off. I made my way slowly to the restaurant, but they didn't open till 8, so I tried to make my way to the bar, but realizing how far it was I decided it was too far so I made my way to a McDonald's (I told you I'd had three martinis!)and had some good 'ol American fast food. Then, since I was full, I decided to go back to the bar, I felt sufficiently sobered up to get drunk again.

Upon entering, there were a few more people, but not many and a hors doeurves (I don't know how to spell that)bar plus Karaoke. Woo-hoo. I swear, cheesy bars are everywhere. Well the crowd had some lively people. these two people started gettting up and singing. apparently they were the only two who wanted to live out there rock star fantasies. I chatted with two blokes from Belgium and a guy from England who was going to the Olympics. Not competing, just watching. Two martinis later and my train was due to pull out in an hour. However (God how many times have I written that word?) there was a girl who just HAD to hear me sing. Having not done Karaoke in like 5 years, having had a total of 5 martinis in almost as many hours, and feeling like a cocky American, I jumped up. They picked out U2's With Or Without you. If you don't know this song, it was popular when Bono was at the prime of his singing prowess. There is harmony in this song- an excessively high main voice, and a screamingly higher harmonic part. I was holding my own so guess who they indicated should sing the higher part when the time came? Now, for women, it is often easy for them to sing higher parts cause their throats are designed for it. When a man has to do it, often, but not always, some degree of testicle squeezing is necessary for the desired effect. I instead chose to simply scream it. It worked quite well, although I would guess some people had slight hearing loss for a few days afterwards. She tried to get me to sing another one and we wound up doing so although I can't remember what song it was. The third song was crunching me for time to catch my train which was now 30 minutes from departure, and, unlike Indian trains, they are always very on time. BUT she was not to be denied. So I sang one more, well I tried, but the lyrics on the screen did not match with the music and it got very mixed up. Plus my throat was now slightly more hoarse than a 70 year old New Orleans bar owner who worked and smoked in the bar for 50 years. I cracked and whistled and finally I just shut my eyes, listened to the music and was able to navigate the rest of the song.

Hastily making my way off the stage, I had to run to get my bags from daily storage and get to the train which was already boarding. Luckily the bar was directly across the street from the station! Next stop- PARIS!!!
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