Or: How I got lost and found in Milan – and fell deeply in love with a hostel.
Real talk – this post is gonna get a little emotional, and start with a bit of a tangent, so booze up and get ready.
At the end of June, I took a trip with my MBA program to Milan. Like any self respecting mid-twenties traveler, I planned a couple of extra days at the beginning of the trip to
eat drink shop explore Milan (and meet up with my dear friend from high school, who had been studying in Switzerland for far too long). As a type A human is wont to do, I planned months and months in advance, down to the train I would take, what platform it left from, what the best departure time would be based on my flight arrival, time to get through customs and crying about avoiding navigating crowds.
And wouldn’t you know it? The train was on strike.
I was vaguely aware of alternative modes of transportation, but obviously had a) already paid €12 for my train ticket, and b) had no clue whatsoever what I was doing.
I heard that taking a cab would cost a life ending €110 from Malpensa Airport to anywhere in Milan, and lord knows I was not taking my food money out on a pesky transportation need. So, instead, I found a
terrifying definitely not sketchy looking bus kiosk in the airport, ponied up another €8, and dragged my sorry, sweaty self onto the next available bus to Milano Centrale. Of course, this station happens to be on the Northern side of Milan – the opposite side of the hostel, and not at all where I planned on being unceremoniously deposited into Milan. But no matter – ever onward, right?
Now, since my friend was coming into town, I had done some research into how to get to the hostel that we would share (eventually) from Milano Centrale (the Grand Central Station of Milan). I knew the illustrious Metro yellow line would land me not far from the hostel, and figured I could easily find my way from there.
I got hopelessly lost for about an hour, with no cell service, a crappy non-detailed map and all of my shit. After only one panic attack (I’m a big girl, ma!) I figured out an admittedly sketchy back alley way of getting to the hostel. And when I turned the corner on Via Medici, and saw the blessed sign for Ostello Bello Medici, let me tell you. I cried. I was so happy, and so proud of myself for figuring it out by myself and not blowing all of my cash on a panic taxi.
Sweaty, out of breath, and looking like a complete hot mess, I stumbled into the air conditioned lobby of one singularly spectacular Ostello Bello.
The best part about the hostel is the fact that it’s welcoming as hell. I was met by the sweetest human being ever, who not only encouraged me to sit down and cool off for a while before getting down to business, but brought me a gigantic pitcher of ice cold water and offered me food several times. This place positively blew my mind. When you tell people you’re going to Europe, they always have some sort of opinion about it – learn the language/don’t bother learning the language, everyone is horrible and trying to rob you, never travel alone/traveling alone is an empowering experience. I’m not saying to show up and flash your cash everywhere – I’m about as paranoid a traveler as they come – but after all the fear and paranoia, the attitude of the staff at the hostel challenged all of my preconceived notions about Milan, and honestly European travel in general.
Okay, that’s enough – on to the review.
Ostello Bello Medici located in the southwestern quadrant of Milan – not far from Castello Sforzesco, with great rooms, staff, daily breakfast & aperitivo, and bar.Even I – deeply cynical as I am – was excited to see locals hanging out in the bar, friendly staff folks (young, cute, and actually interested in their jobs, by the way), and a general camaraderie and openness between hostel goers.
My friend and I stayed in a private room – because I’m all in for the common space hostel experience, but I’m just done with dorm living. And I’m terrified of sharing private space with complete strangers. Introverts gonna introvert.
We had a gorgeous view of one of three open air terraces at the hostel, complete with fairy lights, a picnic table, and two hammocks – a great place for two shirtless drunken Italian bar-goers to crash overnight. As if that wasn’t spectacular enough, the bed was super comfy, the room was clean, and we had a private ensuite bathroom that was very clean and spacious! The way we did it, it was essentially a hotel, but with a way more interactive and lively group of guests, and tons of free resources and recommendations from young locals. Plus, you couldn’t turn a corner without seeing a cool mural or some sort of art display (this is true in the hostel, but also on the streets of Milan).
Milan in general is so magical it’s stupid. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they weren’t huge fans of the city – felt it too dirty, too crowded, too insert definitive-reason-number-2,092,357-I-was-given-as-to-why-I-shouldn’t-visit-Milan here. I’m not a huge city person – crowd anxiety and growing up in the country will do that to you – but I loved exploring Milan and I would love to go back and spend more time there and take a few days to explore the Italian Food Valley (seriously, that’s what it’s called I shit you not).
Ostello Bello has two locations in Milan – Ostello Bello Medici (where we stayed), and Ostello Bello Grande (closer to Milano Centrale) – as well as a fairly new hostel in Myanmar. If you ever have the opportunity, do yourself a favor and spend some time with them. I can’t wait until I can again.
And don’t worry – you’re not done hearing about Milan.