I have another reason for wanting to make this final tour of Europe while I can still walk.
As well as highlighting the real accessibility of the most-popular visitor attractions in Europe, I also want to use this trip to revisit some of the people who very kindly helped me out on my previous walks.
And one particular difficulty that I had previously, was finding accommodation in Milan, as I wanted to walk there (in Parco Sempione):
It turns out that Italian guys use Couchsurfing as a dating website. So, as a single guy looking for a home to share, I was getting absolutely nowhere. And as I had left it to the very last minute to look for hotel accommodation, the only rooms left were seriously expensive (I think that there was some event on in Milan at the time too – which didn’t help).
But I really had to be in Milan on that night. As with all of my walks, I had issued an open invitation for people, either natives or visitors, to join me. And the lovely Anna had already said that she would join me.
So I was stumped. And that’s when Mao (Maurizio) stepped forward!
And football was the answer. A wee bit of history:
In 2007, Scotland played Italy in a EURO2008 qualifying match. In Bari. Originally though, the game was supposed to be played in Milan! And as always happens when a fixture is announced, and with an eye to bagging a cheap flight before the airlines cotton on (yes, I’m talking about you Mr. O’Leary), eager Scotland fans snapped up flights to Milan.
And then, at the very last minute, the Italian football authorities decided to switch the venue from Milan to Bari (look at a map of Italy, they couldn’t have picked a worse venue for Scotland fans to get to – deliberate? You bet!).
This was not a huge problem for many Scotland fans though, fans who had the time and money. They simply booked a flight/train/bus from Milan to Bari.
But not all fans. Some were left stranded in Milan.
And, true to form, the stranded found their way to Mao’s OFFSIDE SPORTS BAR – which is not too far from the San Siro.
So when Mao heard of my plight, and that I would be wearing a lovely Scotland football shirt (donated by the SFA/Scotland Supporters Club) with my kilt, he came to the rescue of a fellow football fan. Although he personally could do nothing, he arranged for me to meet a friend of his, who would gladly help me out. And up stepped Antonietta!
So if you are ever in Milan, please visit Mao if you are in the area (Parco Sempione is a fantastic place to visit in Milan, so you probably will be). As well as quenching your thirst, Mao also serves up some fantastic food. So grab a table (outside if the weather is good!) and sit back and be well taken care of – while thanking one of the nicest Italian guys you will ever meet.