Things to Do in Navigli When You're Jet Lagged

It's Sunday in the Navigli neighborhhod of Milan and I am checked into my hotel. This simple acheivement was not quite as easy as it sounds. I knew I would arrive a few hours before I could check in, but I didn't realize it would be a full five hours. My plane landed at 8:00. By 8:30, I had cleared boarder control, claimed my baggage, and was in a taxi headed for Milan. 30 minutes and EU 90 later (taxis charge more on Sundays), I was at the hotel without a room to retreat to. The concierge told me to come back at 2:00. He stored my suitcase and sent me on my way.

Knowing I would need some legitimate breakfast upon my arrival, I used the morning of my departure the last time to venture away from the touristy area around the canal and found several promising options for this morning. Alas, not a storefront was open, save for a single cafe.

It was bustling this morning and filled with young people with carry-on luggage, much like me, only they all looked and acted like regulars. Not a word of English was spoken in the place, and I got through my order in passable Italian, although cappucino e patisserie is not the most complicated Italian phrase.

It was heaven. Especially after the minimalist breakfast provided by the airline. The pastry was actually a croissant filled with creme and dusted with course sugar. The cappucino was hot and bitter and rich with full-fat milk, pasteurized via targated irradiation to selectivly eliminate pathogens rather than the American method of cooking the bejeezus out of it until everything is dead. Milk that retains its natural enzymes is indeed richer, sweeter, more filling. I wonder at our fear of irradiation given our enthusasim for microwaving plastics. But that is an entirely different topic and one I will evaluate at a later date. If I remember.

Full of caffeine and sugar and with 4.5 horus to go, I got out the camera and proceeded on a photography expedition. This being my second visit, I widened my radius and saw a little more of the city, incuding the larger canal that feeds the one my hotel is on. And, soon enough, about the time church let out, some of the smaller cafes started opening for brunch.

I found a little place that billed itself as a Parisean cafe right on the canal and wondered how I missed it a couple of weeks ago. When I asked about sandwiches in broken, US-accented Italian, they offered me a cheeseburger. After a little tete-a-tete, I managed to order the much sought-after ham and cheese sandwich. And it was ham, not sorrento or capricolla or any of those other heavily cured varieties. It came with lettuce and tomato on a crusty baguette and I was so starved for the protein that I had consumed most of it before I realized I had neglected to take the requisite photo.

After lunch, I wandered around a little more and eventually made my way to the local church, a beautiful little stone structure that has been serving the neighborhood since around the 10th century. Shortly after entering, I made the acquaintance of Bascillica "just call me Billy", a Romanian musician recently transplanted to Milan. He was very inerested in being my friend for the week despite not really paying attention to the answers I gave to his simple questions. Once I showed him my left hand and the wedding band, Bascillica "just call me Billy" disppeared as quickly as he had arrived.

At that point, I realized that what I really needed was a hot shower and a nap - yes, a nap. I know it violates the first rule of jet lag, but given that the last three Saturdays in a row I've flown across the Atlantic in one direction or the other, I decided that I am a special case. I returned to the hotel shortly after noon and there was a room waiting for me. One hot shower later and I am ready to get caught up on my sleep.

Open air market - sadly, no fruit, just flowers

Closed on Sundays

Closed on Sundays

Closed on Sundays

Voila! Cappucino e patisserie