Attending the TEDx in Milan

I enjoy attending conferences and listening to different ideas. Some months back, I attended a barcamp in Rome but I thought that it had a long way to go in the organization. Coupled with the fact that there was a TEDx in KL as well as in Singapore, I was feeling quite jealous.

Luckily, I found that there was a TEDx in Italy! It was all the way in Como though, and that’s about 700 km from Rome so I persuaded Cart to join me. Jerrick decided to join us too when I told him that I would be heading to Milan. And we were all excited about our trip.

November finally arrived and the day before the event, we departed after breakfast and started on our road-trip.

As it was autumn, Cart and I both were enjoying the scenery and colours of the tree leaves – gold, red, green. It was really lovely. And slowly, after some hours, we saw the landscape start to change.

Since we were heading towards to north, where it is colder, it became foggier and foggier. I was fascinated by how misty it was.

And finally at length, after about 6 hours, we finally reached the motorway exit and paid the toll. It was about 33.70 euro.

From this point onwards, we had to rely on Cart’s GPS function on his E72 since we are both not too familiar with the area. It was quite challenging because for some reason as the GPS did not recognize some of the streets that we wanted to go to. And many times, it wasn’t clear at which road to turn to because it didn’t show us that there were multiple lanes. That frustrated the both of us.

It took some tries to get to the right path. Nevertheless, we finally got to central Milan and I observed that there were several nuances in the architecture which gave it a different feel compared to Rome.

For example the roads looked quite different. I’ve yet to see a brick formation like this one below here anywhere in Rome.

As well as the bus stop, because they were run by different services. In Rome, the public transportation is run by ATAC while in Milan it is run by ATM instead. I used to assume that it would be the same throughout the country.

At long last, we reached the City Residence Milano Bed and breakfast where we’ll be putting up during the weekend. I really liked how cozy and inviting and clean it was.

The first thing that you see when you enter, is a table with a basket of condiments and food ready to be used. And right beside it is a fully usable kitchen with cutleries and cooking utensils all ready in the cupboard.  And there was a fridge stocked with the basics, like milk, a large bottle of water and juice ready.

These additional food was not listed in the website, but I thought that it was a thoughtful gesture.

And walking through, the room actually didn’t feel as cramped as it looked like in the website. And it was surprisingly roomy, with loads of places to store our things.

On every bed, there were towels and slippers each. The beds used foam mattresses instead of spring which could take a little getting used to, but nevertheless it was comfortable.

Walking up the stairs was the loft where Cart and I slept in. It was surprisingly warmer than the room below considering that the heater wasn’t turned on. It wasn’t bad for us since it was autumn and the temperatures were cooler, but I cannot imagine how it would be like for guests coming in during the summer.

My small qualm about the bnb was that the bathroom was a tad bit too small. Poor Cartcart couldn’t move about much while showering.

And the bnb can get a tad bit noisy since it was right next to the road and very close to the railway tracks. I didn’t hear it much though because Cart and I were dead tired from the road trip and practically comatose the entire night.

Another thing is that there was no wifi! The only way we could connect to the internet was to use the ethernet cable provided. It was tough with all 4 of us being social media addicts but nevertheless, it was a cozy place and hopefully we’d  definitely stay here again the next time we were in Milano.

After dumping our baggage, we headed out to the metro to meet some of the Singaporeans in Milan. I was keen to meet them and hear what they think about living there.

Unfortunately, we were quite late. It didn’t help that it took us a while to get used to the metro lines because we were unfamiliar with the place.

Nevertheless, we got to the bar where the meeting was safely, and I managed to meet the group. It was really lovely to get to know them.

Like Patricia! I finally got to meet Patricia! She’s right there at the left end. We’ve been talking to each other in the facebook group and so far is the Singaporean that I know of that has been living in Milan the longest. I enjoyed listening to her point of view about getting a job in Milan and of her life there.

The rest were mostly students studying in the Milano university and I met a lovely young lady. She was recounting about how tough it was finding a long term job, and many companies prefer to recruit interns for a short term basis.

And there was one guy below here who is taking a course on designing cars. He reminds me so much of my blogger friend Herry.

Not too long after, Jerrick and his friends Joey and Marta arrived. And after a quick chat, we said our goodbyes to the rest of the Singaporean group and headed back to the bnb.

I was already stoned at this point of time and fainted on the bed in exhaustion.

The next day, Cart and I got up early to head to Como where the Italian TEDx was hosted. Como was about an hour drive from central Milan and again, we had to rely on the GPS to take us there.

It was such a chilly but pretty day, and I could not help but to see the beautiful landscape and the autumn  colours all around. But we were both nervous as we were starting to be late, and the GPS didn’t give us a clear indicator to go to. We missed the right roads for at least 3 times.

At long last, we finally reached the Politecnico di Milano with just 5 minutes to the start of the talk. Phew! We made it! We quickly got our passes and picked our seats and not too long after, the talks started.

Picture credit:  Luca Mascaro

The conference was a very interesting experience. All in all there were about 15 speakers in total each ranging in different topics with most of them in Italian. I’ve still got a long way to go to becoming more fluent in Italian and while I could understand 50% of the words that they said, it was still like a jigsaw puzzle to me.

Nevertheless, for the ones that I could understand, I thought it was very fascinating. Like the talk from Tan Le with a device that can read our brainwaves.

During our break time, Cart and I had time to explore around the area for a bit. There was a silk and design school nearby and I thought that the students here are so lucky to be able to go to school with such a lovely view of the hill.

Being more up north, and bound to be colder, even scooters have their own mittens. This is definitely useful.

And then we went back to the conference for the rest of the speakers. The TEDx conference ended at about 5.30pm. And all in all, I enjoyed the talk although I do hope that the location will be rotated to move around different parts of Italy. The past two years its been held in Como and I’m definitely looking forward to TEDx Roma or somewhere closer 🙂

We then headed off towards Lake Como to meet up with the rest of the group. Unfortunately, because it was autumn, night falls at about 5 pm and it was already dark when we left the polytechnic.

Nevertheless, I fell in love with Como immediately upon reaching there. I can see why George Clooney loves this place too. It’s so charming there! There was a large lake, with shimmering lights across it. And though it was a little like Bracciano, you can tell that the inhabitants take pride in the area – it looked very well taken cared of.

I just wished that it didn’t get dark so soon as I take better pictures in daylight.

I see a building with A VOLTA on top of it. This was probably a monument for Alessandro Volta, the developer of the electric cells. He was born in Como.  This building reminds me of a silly joke that Cart told me some while back.

Once upon a time a father asked his son, “How did your test go?”

And the son replied, It went fine, but I couldn’t get the right answer for “What is the first name of the inventor of the electric cell, last name volta”

And upon hearing this, the dad looked incredulous and angry. He stormed, “How many times do I have to tell you, its JONTRA!”

Jontra Volta. Geddit?

We then had a quick walk around the square and I saw a number of men in green alpine hats carrying musical instruments and I got curious to know what was going on. There were more of them as we walked towards the duomo.

Cart told me that these men were helpers to the duomo, much like the Swiss guards for the the Saint Peter’s square in Rome. We didn’t spend too much time in there though as there was a mass going on.

As the four of us were quite peckish, we adjoured to find a restaurant. Somehow the area gave me the Clark Quay feel with the rows of restaurants next to the river.

We chose a random restaurant for our dinner. It was a nice looking place with a lovely decor.

Unfortunately the food to me was bland and forgettable, but the most unfortunate part was that we found an unwanted denizen in one of our food.

I didn’t really have a good impression of the food in Como but nevertheless, the beautiful view of the lake made up for it and we spent the rest of the evening taking a stroll and enjoying our gelato before heading back to the bnb.

I think I am enamoured with Como. Even the touts were milder here, and they go away when you shake your head at them unlike their more persistent Roman counterparts.

The next day.  It was already our last day there. Woah, time passed by really fast and we only had half a day left in Milan.

I felt a bit unsatisfied that I didn’t even get to see the major monuments in Milan. At least the Duomo. Who goes to Milan without seeing the Duomo?! Joey and Jerrick had already seen it while Cart and I were at TEDx and they both wanted to go shopping.

I was feeling a bit torn. But al right then. Shopping it is. And we said our goodbyes to the bnb and to Milano.

I was sad to leave Milan and all its charms. Milan must have been sad to see us leave too.

Drizzles started to turn into rain and it was super misty outside. I asked Joey and Jerrick if it was the same for them back in UK, and they replied no, it never got this thick.

We headed towards this place called Serravalle, which is about an hour drive from central Milan. Its a designer outlet like Castel Romano, only bigger in size and housed with more brands.

I saw brands like Prada, Ferragamo, Bulgari, Ferrari and more.

We went into many different high end stores. I wasn’t feeling it till we went into Dolce and Gabbana. I didn’t care much for their clothes but when I laid my eyes on this, my heart just melted.

This was the limited edition 2009 Fall/Winter collection. And this was the most beautiful shoe I have ever seen in my whole life. that It’s so gorgeous!

Only thing was that it was bloody 700 euro even after a 50% discount. I can’t afford it

Cart must have seen how upset I felt, so he went off to buy a bag for me in another store, “It might not be the same thing, but I hope you’ll like it” And I do! So sweet of him 

Not before too long, we had to rush to send Jerrick and Joey back to Malpensa. Cart was very worried that they both would miss their flight since it was getting close to 2 hours before their flight so he drove them there directly and we said our goodbyes.

And then it was our time to back to Rome. Seven antagonising hours from Malpensa to head back home. I had to continuously shift around to avoid back aches and kept looking at Cart to make sure that he didn’t fall asleep on the road. It was midnight when we finally reached home and by then I think we both fainted even before reaching the bed after the long journey.

This is probably the most tiring one that I’ve ever taken so far, even more than the vespa club road trip to Malacca, even more than our flight from Dubai to Singapore. Nevertheless, I had a lovely time and would love to go again, longer the next time so we could finally see the different sights of Milan.

9 Replies to “Attending the TEDx in Milan”

  1. Thank you for the great tour! I live my european dream vicariously through other bloggers and ex-pats. I can only imagine what happened at that restaurant…hmmm.

    1. Oooh … are you contemplating on moving to Europe? It’ll be such a big change, I’ll tell you that! And what happened at the restaurant was quite iffy, but if you like, I guess I can share what happened, since I’m not naming it for now.

  2. i’m also curious to know what happened at the restaurant!

    anyway, lovely blog entry about milan. i think it’s nice to be able to travel around milan, though perhaps next time u want to travel by train? less effort and more comfortable for the both of you? 😛

    1. Oh, Cart and I did contemplate on taking the train. Yeah, it is convenient for long hauls. But having a car makes it more convenient for moving around while in Milan and Como so taking the car had the slight advantage :

  3. What an adventure! I had no idea there was a ted event in Italy- so jealous that you went.

    I cannot believe that any toll could be that much! I guess I shouldn’t feel so annoyed that train tickets to Milano are “expensive” when driving seems like it might be a pain.

    1. Train tickets are more expensive though, Natalie. Frecciarossa ticket is about 114 euro per person. Thus if Cart and I took the train, it’ll cost us 228 euro and whereas its cheaper when we calculate the toll + fuel inclusive.

      Of course, travelling by train would be more comfortable

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