What’s a G-G-Guinness?

Waiting for il treno to Milano

Since our train to Milano didn’t depart yawningly early, we weren’t in a frenzy to leave at the crack of dawn. It was a straight shot — no transfers required — so it wasn’t long before we arrived at Milano Centrale, one of the most beautiful train stations in Europe.

This 1931 reincarnation of the original station built in 1864 is truly majestic, thanks to Mussolini who wanted the station to symbolize the power of the Fascist regime.

A traveler does a double-take at the face fountain outside Milano's Central Train Station

Directions provided by our next hotel, The Best Hotel, indicated it was a very short walk from the station: 650 feet. That didn’t sound so far. With our rolling bags, we figured we could easily reach it on foot.

Getting oriented in a European city usually involves trial and error: striking out one way and having to turn around to go another. This was no exception.

Reading elusive street signs while dodging traffic and handling a stuffed bag is no easy feat. I dashed into a corner cafe to confirm our direction and we doggedly marched on. The “few minutes walk” promised by the hotel website turned out to be quite a distance.

Finally the street name appeared and with renewed energy hustled halfway down the block to the hotel entrance. It was a basic, but clean, hotel and we were pleased with our rooms. But we were starving and soon after arriving, left again to find food.

Several Turkish establishments lined the main street around the corner and we entered one. Doner Kebap Vise turned out to be a fast food place, but instead of burgers, it offered a fabulous selection of good Turkish food.

I never eat at American fast food joints, but this one, being Turkish, was delicious! After our meal, Mom and Dad returned to the hotel to lounge in its verdant and shady courtyard. Gino and I pressed on toward the metro station.

Il Cimitero Monumentale (The Monumental Cemetery) had been my sightseeing goal for the afternoon. Having heard and read that this cemetery is far more than gravestones, I was keen to see the elaborate statuary and other art that fills its acres of memories.

But the afternoon was slipping away and I didn’t want to rush through it, so I gave up the idea of going there this trip. Besides, today was the official day of world-wide celebration for the 250th birthday of Guinness.

For weeks we had been hearing about September 24, “Arthur’s Day” — the 250th anniversary for Guinness beer. The entire world was poised to raise a glass of the brew at 6:00 p.m.

We had seen posters about Arthur’s Day in the Irish pub in Sacramento before we left home, we heard about it all over Ireland, read about it in the on-flight magazine on the plane. Now the date was here and we were eager to join the festivities. After all, we had drunk from the source.

We had a vague idea about where to start looking for an Irish pub in Milano. A quick subway ride whisked us to the Duomo and the heart of the city where we began our on-foot search.

It turned into a Guinness treasure hunt — darting into corner bars and cafes, asking where we might find the elusive Irish pubs. Usually, the answer was a Scooby Doo “Huh?” but someone would usually step into the discussion and offer directions they knew to be true: down two streets, turn left and there’s one on the corner for sure.

Following “for sure” directions three different times and finding only one pub — which was very closed and had been for some time — we abandoned the search, realizing Italia just doesn’t care about Guinness, Arthur, Ireland, or anything else but La Bella Italia. So when in Rome…instead we went for a glass of wine.

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