Where do I even start? We recently took one of the best vacations we've had. It all started with a flight deal, back in May 2016. You read that right! May! 10 months before the actual trip. We had the option of visiting either Milan or Lisbon and I let Marquette decide since it was going to be his birthday trip. He decided Milan!
[Sidenote: We've been taking advantage of a lot of flight deals to Europe which tend to have shorter travel times but we are making plans to visit other continents ASAP!]
We both have visited Italy before - but never together - and have been to many major cities, like Rome, Sicily, Venice, Naples, and more, so those weren't necessarily at the top of our lists (although I LOVE Rome and I'm #teamRome all the way and think it's a must-see city in Italy). At first we were trying to make the Amalfi Coast work since neither of us have visited that area of Italy, and maybe throw a little Tuscany in there. We also looked into Lake Como, in Bellagio, which is super close to Milan. After some research, however, it became apparent that it would be difficult to find accommodations and many restaurants would be closed since it was low season and would be a little chilly.
We were stumped. What to do? After looking at the map, we thought, what about Switzerland? It's actually super close to Milan and would be easy to get to. I have been trying to get to Switzerland for five years, ever since I saw this picture:
Then, during Thanksgiving weekend, something amazing happened. Okay, being a little dramatic here, but I happened to stumble upon the W Verbier and they happened to be having a crazy Thanksgiving weekend sale. Long story short, we ended up getting an incredible deal on an amazing hotel - the W chain's first ski resort!
So, we had six days in Europe and decided to do four in Milan and two in Switzerland. A few weeks before we went, Marquette felt strongly about staying in Switzerland an additional night (good choice, boo!) but by that time the W hotel rate had doubled, so we booked our first night at a different, more affordable hotel - Hotel Nevai. So we ended up with three nights in Milan, and three in Verbier.
For our first night in Milan, we stayed at the AC Hotel Milano. It was right off the Garibaldi station which was perfect, because that's one of the stops on the Milan Malpensa Airport Express train (operated by Trenord - 13 euro). It was also extremely inexpensive, as we were able to secure the Marriott member rate. The hotel staff were incredibly accommodating and the hotel was clean, modern, and conveniently located next to the train station - about a 10 minute ride to the city center.
On our first day in Milan, we visited the Duomo, the Galleria Emmanuelle Vittorio, and had amazing pizza and wine at Pizza AM. I realize there's so much to see in Milan (Italy in general) and so much art and history to absorb, but I wanted to do less running around/sightseeing on this vacation and more relaxing and taking it slow. So that's what we did. We had our first meal in Italy - lunch - at Terrazza Duomo 21 which has an excellent view of the Duomo on their terrace (and a surprisingly short wait!).
For dinner, pizza of course! I highly recommend Pizza AM if you visit Milan. They tend to have a longer wait, but you'll get a free glass of prosecco and a light appetizer to hold you over, plus the pizza is inexpensive and worth every euro! The staff there is super friendly and we stayed there til closing time.
The next day we woke up and got ready for our drive to Switzerland. It was significantly cheaper to rent a car and a bit faster to drive as compared with taking the train, so that's what we decided to do. We made the car rental reservation about a week in advance with Enterprise, which was not too far from our hotel. I was super nervous about driving to the Alps given the different driving culture in Europe and potential snow on the road, but we committed to it. We got snow chains just to be on the safe side, but the weather ended up being beautiful. The morning we were leaving, Marquette found a Swiss Franc coin on the ground next to our car in Milan, and I knew that everything would be alright.
To be continued....