Thursday, 29 October 2015

Thick fog at Milan's Linate airport...

The 1300hrs Firenze to Milan train
Milan has two main airports: Linate and Malpensa. The former is generally regarded as the best because it is closer to the city centre. I tend to judge an airport by its facilities beyond passport control – that strange, perfumed world characterised by big fashion and accessories brands that only Indians living in Hounslow seem to buy. Whenever I travel,  I like to get the security bit out of the way, which means that if I arrive at the airport early, I get the best of two hours to chill out prior to flying off.

On Monday afternoon I arrived at Linate early having travelled by train from Firenze (Florence). The train journey from Firenze to Milano takes just one hour and 40 minutes and costs 50 Euros. I tried to take a train to Linate, but was told there was only a bus. It cost me five Euros – better than 55 Euros for a cab when I travelled from Linate to the city centre last Thursday (22nd October). The bus journey was short and took me around the back streets of Milan, past overgrown brownfield sites and graffiti-infected walls, but soon I arrived and started to look around for the BA check-in desk. I was too early to check in my bag so I kept it with me, losing my deodorant and shaving foam in the process – it happens all the time. So much so that I've recently started packing a bar of Dove soap because it lathers up well and can be a good alternative to shaving foam. I discovered that my allocated seat (14A) had been changed to an aisle seat further back. I moaned, but not a great deal and I was switched to seat 28A at the back of the plane. Later, however, when I reached the final checkpoint at gate B28, my seat was 'upgraded' to 21A.

Panino Giusto at Linate airport, Milan
Once through security after queuing 15 minutes for passport control, I was a free agent with time to kill. I never, ever entertain any of the shops – for a start I can't afford them and then there's that whole thing about simply not being interested. But I did fancy chilling out with a glass of red wine and something to eat and I was annoyed to discover that Linate didn't offer much in the food department.

I found a place that sold panini breads – Panino Giusto – so I ordered a City (a turkey breast panini) and a glass of red wine, which soon became two, followed by a cappuccino. There's nothing better than a glass of wine and something to eat along with a decent book to read. I'm making good progress through Mark Beaumont's excellent The Man Who Cycled the World so I was in heaven. Beaumont's book, as I've said time and time again in recent posts, is amazing and at this point in time, I've reached the bit where he arrives in Australia. I'm looking forward to his other book, The Man Who Cycled the Americas, which I'm sure will be just as good.

I walked to the gate where I noticed thick fog outside."There's always fog at Linate," said a white-haired, middle-aged businessman with a resigned smile. I wandered around until the flight was called. Outside, the fog was thick, but the BA flight wasn't cancelled. I'm used to spending an additional night in an airport hotel (click here for more information) but not tonight. Yes, there was a minor delay, but once on the plane the cabin crew spoke of a 'zero visibility take-off'.

Milan's Central Station – very impressive
The plane made its way towards the runway and I began to wonder how the pilot was managing to navigate his way there, let alone take off, but he did both and within seconds we were airborne and above the fog and were greeted by 'excellent flying conditions'. There were clear skies all the way to London Heathrow's Terminal 5.

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