I flew British Air which I enjoy doing, because they route you through Gatwick and walking through there makes me nostalgiac for my youth. They also give you *free* headphones unlike all those broke-ass domestic carriers. And they show movies in their entirety, bless them. I pretty much wrote off in-flight movies on American flights after I saw Patch Adams and they edited out the scene where the doctors walk through a door that is flanked on both sides by a pair of women's legs made out of papier mache. We're talking about a DOOR getting an R rating, people. Patch didn't even have the audacity to include a clitoral door knocker. But I digress.
Anyone who claims not to understand British humor has clearly never tried their cuisine - it's hiLARious. Believe it or not, that thing on the left was labeled "pasta."
My sister and I arrived in Milan on the same day and spent hours walking around. The city is really kind of a hole, but what they lack in architecture and streetcleaning they make up for in fashion sense. And cuisine. We split some milanese-style risotto with clumps of saffron in it - Heaven! - and pregamed with a generous pitcher of table wine. Then we got dolled up and headed out to Milan's world-reknowned club district.
Now, Susan and I are New Yorkers, but we choose to live in Philly and Boston because we like to have fun on the cheap; when I hear that it's going to cost 15-20 American dollars to get into a place that sells $10 drinks it's hard for me to believe it's not a practical joke. So our only plan was to wander around, looking fabulous. Which worked out in our favor; when we crossed a line of people that stretched down the block, we must have appeared just haughty and disinterested enough. The bouncer tapped me on the shoulder and motioned for the two of us to come inside.
The place was a very sleek, mirrored bar with lots of backlighting and many ambiguously straight men. We seemed to be the only non-Italians in the place. The all-male bartending staff did this little catwalk bootie-shaking dance as they mixed the greatest mojitos I've ever had.
Sue and I were in high spirits when the sleaziest guy in the place honed in on us. He was short and beefy with plenty of bling buffeted in the waves of his chest hair. He planted his big meat paw between the two of us and started chatting us up, one at a time, looking for the path of least resistance.
"Would you like to go to the club across the street? I can get us in free. My friend works there. We can get access to the private room."
Susan and I communicated the following questions telepathically: Would it be completely wrong for us to use this guy to gain entry to an exclusive party, and if no, ethically speaking, how soon after we got there could we create a diversion and lose him on the dance floor?
Our mother raised us to be frugal . . . but in the end some latent common sense of mine won out and I made the universal sign for trachaeotomy behind the guy's back. "I don't like it. He totally skeeves me out."
So we took the gutless way out, letting il buffone get a little ways ahead, and then hanging behind to talk to a friend of ours - and by "friend," I mean a guy Susan had accidentally spilled a drop of her drink on an hour before. The guy, Gianni, had made a big theatric thing out of the spillage so he could A) call attention to his insanely expensive shoes where the droplet of gin had fallen, and B) magnanimously laugh it off. In other words, he was an attention whore and an easy mark.
This was definitely the smartest thing we could have done. Gianni and his two friends, Ivano e Roberto, had been striking out with the ladies and were thrilled that we were doing the work for them, and they were really a very sweet and funny bunch of electrical engineers, who wound up giving us a little tour of Milan, from clubs to canals, including some much needed late-night high-calorie snackage, and they hand-delivered us to our hotel even when it took an extra half hour of me being too much of a drunken idiot to remember where we lived at 4am.
At some point in the evening I told Ivano about the guy they had unwittingly rescued us from and about his offer. He shouted, "A private room! You do not want to go to a private room! It is, how you say, an orgy! Everyone having sex with everyone else, men with men - it is horrible!"
I would consider that a pretty glaring omission in our guidebook. Rick Steves, you better hope you have an excellent lawyer.
Stay tuned for Part II . . . the Dorans head for la campagna!