I arrived in Milano from Kathmandu one week ago, and I’m still slowly recovering from culture shock.
It’s odd, I certainly didn’t feel as overwhelmed when I arrived in Asia over 2 months ago. I was prepared for the traffic, the poverty, and a completely different way of life.
But arriving in Milano felt like a punch in the face. I never imagined I would feel so disoriented and confused for the first several days.
The traffic – it’s so civilized. There are stoplights and both pedestrians and drivers follow signals. There is no worry of getting killed crossing the street or being jostled by a cow.
Smiling and starting conversations with random people – it’s definitely not done here. No one smiles back and I’ve had a few people walk away from me in mid-sentence. I get the impression people aren’t happy here. Or maybe they are but they’re too busy to show it or even think about it.
Obsession with food – here, it’s everywhere. In Asia, the food was delicious but there wasn’t much of a selection. If a restaurant served good food, I’d eat because I wouldn’t know when the next meal would be. I remember looking forward to my favourite morning breakfast: one crepe with a banana and a tablespoon of honey. There were many excruciatingly hot days where the food highlight of my day was finding a Popsicle.
Since arriving in Milano, I have eaten more food in one week than I had in Asia for over 2 months. Seriously.
For the first few days, I had the following from the breakfast buffet: panino with scamorza and smoked ham, 2 cornetti (one with chocolate and the other with vanilla), scrambled eggs, a small piece of fruit crostata, full fat yogurt and fruits. Since then, I’ve dropped the panino but am still eating everything else. In Asia, I never ate this much food in one day.
Gelato. Every day. Sometimes twice a day. I have to make up for all the Popsicles I ate in India and Nepal. I’ve even gone so far as to keep a gelato diary with my own ratings: gianduia and dulce de leche (5*), mango and strawberry (3*), coffee and pistachio (5*), coconut and dark chocolate (5*), passion fruit and forest berries (4*), amarena cherries and penguino – vanilla ice cream with Nutella (5*), hazelnut and pistachio (4*), lemon and mango (4*), coffee and hazelnut (4*), salted caramel and milk chocolate (5*), nougat ins and hazelnut (5*), 70% dark and mascarpone with figs (4*).
There is so much wealth in Milano, too much, actually. The high end shops are endless: Prada, Louis Vuitton and Dolce and Gabbana, the latter of which has various shops taking up several blocks, one for women’s shoes, men’s shoes, a children’s shop and even a “family” shop. Seriously.
Milano is expensive. Very expensive. I backpacked through Asia for over 2 months and spent $800. I spent just over that amount in one week here. I’m still in shock.
But I’m getting used to my new reality: gelato, pasta and wine. I don’t think life can get better than this.