Category Archives: Travels

Trams in Milan

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I have a fascination for things, items, places, anything I do not understand, anything I have not seen before, or why something has changed.

For many years I have been visiting Italy for over ten years on a regular basis with PNL Italy and Gianni Golfera, providing training services in NLP, PhotoReading, Mind Maps, memory skills and more, and I am noticing changes taking place, buildings, shops, fashion, the population make-up, it is becoming but not as much more multicultural as the UK.

I think I am using Phillip’s Sausage more than I realise, it has become an Unconscious Competence.

The latest colour fashion seems to be what I would call violet, with many shops in Milan displaying clothes, especially female, in that colour.

Violet colours, the new colour for 2009? I think Milan says so.

It was whilst walking to the last course I co-presented at the Hilton Hotel, the PNL Master Practitioner, and as I sat for lunch at the New York Bar and Restaurant, that I noticed there was something missing, and nearly everybody I asked had not noticed the change, and were not interested. It was only the owner of the New York Bar that could offer and answer to the missing items.

It was the green trams, rattling along the rails placed in the cobbled streets.

My friend and translator Elena, I think was getting rather fed-up of my curiosity as to the disappearance of these trams, only the old aging trams were to be seen.

The waitress in the New York Bar, just laughed at me, because I think, only an Englishman would be interested in such information. Participants laugh at me when I explain some of the hobbies of British people, train spotting or collect train identifications, aircraft watching again collecting details of aircraft.

It appears that the Lady Mayor of Milan, Her Excellency Mrs Letizia Moratti, removed the new green trams from running in central Milan because of braking issues, there could have been some fatalities in an accident, so they would return to the reliable older trams.

Then I remember what a success my little video, – over 3,000 views – of a Desiros 450 type train of South West Trains entering Norbiton Station (click to see SouthWest train arriving at Norbiton Station), and decided to capture some of the trams I see in Milan, as I am sure there are hobbyists out there who would love to see and hear them.

A collection of video shots of trams in Central Milan, near Stazione Centrale (the Central Railway Station)

See also photographs of the Taxim Tram in Istanbul, Turkey, a wonderful service taking a passenger from Tunel to Taxim Square. Click Here.

The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero

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I wrote about the gentleman I talked to in Italy about his experience in the Second World War flying in the Italian Air Force, and I felt that part of my history was missing.

We talked about how he downed two Hurricane aircraft into the sea, and escaped to fight another day. (click to read article).

He talked about The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (SM.79) and I searched for more details on the aircraft, hoping that perhaps there may be one in one of the many aircraft museums in the UK, visiting the Imperial War Museum in London and Duxford and RAF Hendon, but nothing.

The Italian Airforce Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero
The Italian Airforce Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero

I then decided that perhaps there maybe a plastic model construction kit I could find, and by building it I would learn more about the aircraft. That was nearly as difficult as finding a real aircraft. But after a lot of searching I found a model shop near to RAF Hendon, North London, with one last kit. The shop Hannants is on a small industrial estate, not really a shop as it does not even have a shop window, but it does have a good range of kits.

From building this aircraft, the SM.79, I felt so much nearer to the history I was told, but no-where in the books I read was there any mention of two Hurricane aircraft being lost to a SM.79. I even asked at RAF Hendon, something I will follow-up in coming months.

It is strange how we are only told we need to know about our history, and this tends to be one sided, that from the viewpoint of the country we are being taught in. Seeing the foot over the British Isle on the world globe on the statute in the Vatican, (click to see here). The history of slavery in America (click to see here).

I am learning to take what I am told with a pinch of salt, an English saying, which means, we are not being told the truth, or only a little of what we need to know.

The three engined Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, or Sparrowhawk, was designed before the start of the Second World War as a passenger transport and fast postal link airplane, but was modified to become a torpedo and medium bomber with great success. It had a hump behind the cockpit which was able to retract to reveal a two 12.7 mm guns. It was flown by many countries.

A time to myself

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Perhaps it is my lifestyle, perhaps it is because I need my own space after a full day of training, perhaps because at heart I am an introvert, but when I have a day without any training, presentations or talks, I often find myself by myself in a foreign land.

So it was in Milan. I was not going to be training everyday, and I found myself with no-one to talk to, no-one to share my time, so it was to read Owen Fitzpatrick’s book, to walk a lot, and try to see The Last Supper without success.

Although I have said there is not a lot to see in Milan, there are some great sights to see, and some that are not.

I am quite interested in aircraft, so the display at the Museo Nazionale Della Scinza e Della Tecnologia, Leonardo De Vinci, (National Museum of Science and Technology),Leonardo De Vinci disappointing with only three aircraft was disappointing, compared to some museums in the UK (see links).

Some of the sites and buildings are well worth seeing, like Duomo, Teatro Alla Scala, Milan’s famous opera theatre, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a glass roofed shopping area off Duomo, and Castello Sforzesco with the fountain that they call The Wedding Cake, and more are worth a visit, but they do seem to be spread-out, being far and few between.

Duomo Basillica, Milan Italy

Detail of Duomo Basillica, Milan

The Wedding Cake fountain, Castello Sforzesco , Milan

Alitalia, what is in a name?

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Unfortunately I did not check the time the NLP Master Practitioner course finished in Milan yesterday, and booked my flights as if we were to end at 6pm, but we finished at 1pm. Oh Poo Poo. I had a 8pm flight.

No problem, I can have some lunch at the New York bar and restaurant and get to the airport early, perhaps they would get me on an earlier flight. No chance, I had a ticket which was not changeable. Oh well, hour hours of sitting around in the small Linate airport.

I like Linate Airport as it is very close to Milan center, perhaps 15 minutes taxi ride compared to Malpensa which is about one hour from Milan center, about a 20 Euro taxi fare compared to a 100 Euro fare.

I sat there in the airport near a café, and watched and observed people, some leaving home to go away on holiday, some finishing their holiday, some meeting people, some saying goodbye. There was a mixture of emotions, happiness, sadness, anxiety, stress, relaxation, frustration, love, care and compassion, it was all there.

When it was time to give my suitcase to Alitalia, two hours before departure, I did so with a sore backside, sitting for so long on a metal chair began to become uncomfortable, and I went through security at departures and through the inevitable duty free shops, finding a coffee bar. This time my cappuccino had no smiling face (see previous article).

After passing through passport control, there were the same metal seating, but I can use my self hypnosis to remove the pain in the backside whilst I wait, as I again I watched my fellow passengers. Some were musicians carrying like they were babies their string instruments, some were business people reading the notes they would need in the business meetings, some were models perhaps just finishing a photo shoot in fashionable Milan, some were on the mobile phones pacing up and down, some were going or returning on holiday.

Then the departure time changed on the gate, not 7:40 but 8:15. 

No announcement, just the change on the board as the person at the gate held her head down.

No point in me loosing my cool, laugh it off, make a joke of it. Then it came to me.

ALITALIA stands for Always Late In Take-off And Late In Arrival.

8:10 came and still no bus came to take us from departure gate to the aircraft, and people started to get fidgety, and with no announcements being made going to the dispatchers, who firmly kept their heads down.

With only about 26 passengers, once we were put onto a bus, it was a quick process, but then more delay as we waited in the bus beside the aircraft for what seemed an age, even the bus driver was getting frustrated by the wait.

Some passengers were getting concerned as it was not an ALITALIA plane but and Air One aircraft. Perhaps they did not know that the two airlines had merged to prevent ALITALIA going into bankruptcy.

By this time I was getting hungry, my poor stomach was as if it was cut open, and I think other passengers were the same. Most airlines give a drink and a sandwich, but I had flown Air One before, and I think they are cutting costs.

Eventually we took off, and after climbing over some angry looking clouds over the Alps, they came round with the trolley.

A drink and some biscuits, thats was it. My hunger would have to wait until I got home.

But wait, just before we landed, we were offered a sweet.

Air One food, biscuits, crackers and a sweet.

NLP Master Practitioner and Smiling Faces

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It was smiling faces all around at the end of the NLP Master Practitioner course in Milan, Italy as I closed the course.

The course was given by a number of trainers, Patrizia Belotti, Claudio Belotti, Alessio Roberti, Owen Fitzpatrick and myself, had given the participants a wealth of knowledge, styles and chances learn from experts with years of training behind them.

NLP Master Practitioner course in Milan, Italy

After a bottle of champagne had been shared in celebration and a photograph which the participants wanted as a memory, Elena Martelli the translator and myself were hungry, so we went to a local restaurant and bar called New York just behind the Hilton Hotel where the course was held and next to the tram terminus andStazione Centrale (the Central Railway Station).

New York offers a good range of food and buffet, and I finished my meal with a cappuccino coffee.

The owners and staff although busy, always have time for a conversation with me and a smile, but when I was served the cup of cappuccino, it the sight of it brought the biggest smile of all from me.

New York bar Milano, offers a good range of food and buffet, and I finished my meal with a cappuccino coffee.

Do not visit Leonardo De Vinci ‘s The Last Supper

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I have another day off in Milano, Italy, whilst another trainer takes the NLP Master Practitioner course and people have said that I should go and see the sights. Well there are not many tourist sights to visit in Milan despite the age of the city.

Physical places like Duomo, Teatro Alla Scala, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Castello Sforzesco and more are worth a visit, but they do seem to be spread-out, being far and few between.

I had taken the City Tour bus to get an idea of the layout of Milan, thus allowing me to spend my own time to view what I decided to see.

I had work to complete in the morning and at mid-day I set out to walk from Stazione Centrale (the Central Railway Station) to Santa Maria Deile Grazie the home of The Last Supper painting. It is a painting on my list to see, and this was my opportunity.

After a long walk following a map through the back street of Milan, I arrived at Santa Maria Deile Grazie, and after a search to find the entrance, I offered my money to enter, but was told there were no tickets available, and they were fully booked until June, that is nearly two weeks waiting time.

Visiting other tourist and religious sites throughout the world, I have never come across such a long waiting time, even the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, Rome yes one has to queue for a lengthy time, but not two weeks.

So do not visit Santa Maria Deile Grazie to see The Last Supper unless you have booked your place, or willing to wait a long time maybe weeks.

A little upset, but OK, get on with life, I had seen on the City Tour bus tour I had seen near bye the Museo Nazionale Della Scinza e Della Tecnologia, Leonardo De Vinci, (National Museum of Science and Technology), Leonardo De Vinci.

When I got to the museum building, an old 16th century monastery, I could not see an entrance, I could see no signs, so I set out and walked around the block, that way I would find the entrance. Trust me to go the wrong way, the long way round, but eventually I found the entrance.

Bus loads of school children were going into the building, and I nearly gave-up trying to get in, plus I wondered if it would be worth the time with so many children inside. But I stuck to my plan and paid to get in.

Was it worth it? Yes and no.

They seem to be under going a lot of rebuilding work, and many areas were empty or restricted. I only saw three aircraft behind a makeshift barrier, the railway engine shed had some good examples, but again many exhibits were restricted or only viewed from a distance.

Three aircraft at Museo Nazionale Della Scinza e Della Tecnologia, Leonardo De Vinci, Milano.

There is a submarine on display, but that too was restricted, and an extra charge of 8 Euro to view the inside. It must have bee quite an effort to get it from the sea to the inland city of Milan.

A submarine at Museo Nazionale Della Scinza e Della Tecnologia, Leonardo De Vinci, Milano.

Although there were many children visiting, they were all well behaved under the control of I presume their teachers, and were often to be seen in rooms where there were interactive exhibits.

I enjoyed the exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci housed in one long gallery, giving a brief history of his work with models of some of his ideas.

Also, I did see a fresco of The Last Supper painted in 1626 by Giovanni Mauro Della Rovere, as against the one in Santa Maria Deile Grazie by Leonardo Da Vinci painted between 1495 and 1498. So all was not lost.

The Last Supper painted in 1626 by Giovanni Mauro Della Rovere

After that visit, it was a long walk back to Stazione Centrale and my hotel. I had been walking or on my feet for nearly six hours.

Now I deserve a pizza or a plate of gnocchi.

A trip through Italy

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It is another day off here in Milan, as another trainer, Owen Fitzpatrick, takes his turn in the NLP Master Practitioner course.

It is rare that I have chance to do the sight seeing tours, but today I think I will get to know a little bit more of Milano after over ten years of visiting this Italian city.

On previous visits to Italy, as other countries, I have scheduled my arrival and departures so that I walk off the aircraft and go straight to the course venue, and at end the course, to go directly to catch the plane home.

The one exception of note was with Gianni Golfera, the Man with the Biggest Memory, with whom I co-operate and work with, delivering Mind Mapping and PhotoReading training in Italy. (click to see dates)

I gave some training in Rome, with Lucia Falang as my translator to a lively group of participants. It came as a surprise to know that Lucia, an Italian who knew Rome well, had never been to the Vatican, to St Peter’s Basilica. Being only a fifteen minute walk from the course venue, there was no option but to take Lucia to see and experience this center of the Roman Catholic religion, a place I visit often to take in the atmosphere, history and to learn more, even if I am not a member of the church.

Lucia Falanga, one of my Italian translators at Saint Peter’s, Vatican, Rome

As we walked into Saint Peter’s, I noticed tears in Lucia’s eyes, and I left her for a moment to absorb the atmosphere and go through any emotions she needed to.

As we walked around the basilica, I became the tour guide I often find myself as, pointing out the sculpture of the The Pieta, Mother Mary holding Christ (see previous entry click here), another monument where the Italian artist Bernini created a world globe, hiding the UK with the foot of one of the human figures, as the Vatican was against the British at the time as the Crown, the King, had broken away to form the Anglican Church (click to see here).

It was a quick tour of the Vatican, as Gianni, Lucia and myself were to drive up from Rome to Milan, the next venue for the PhotoReading and Mind Mapping courses, with a stop-over in their home town of Luca.

Along the way we passed though many historic and beautiful towns, stopping on occasions to take-in and saviour parts I Italy I would love to learn more about some day.

The steep walls of the town of Aorte

The narrow streets of Aorte

My jouney through Italy would take me down many twists and turns and bring me more experiences which I will write about soon. 

A drab day in Kingston upon Thames

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It is not a good day with regards to the weather today in Kingston upon Thames, the clouds are low and it is drizzling that fine rain that gets you wet.

I had to be at the dentist at 9am, and they were running late, so I did not leave until 10:30am. Not good for the nerves.

Walking back to the town center along the River Thames, I felt is if I was the only person in the world, well apart from a lone runner in the far distance. There was just me and the wildlife, the ducks, coots, geese and swans. Perhaps I am the only person in this world and others are just a figment of my imagination. I wonder. Just a thought.

A drab and drizzling day in Kingston upon Thames, along the River Thames, devoid of people.

Compare the photograph above to the video I took some time ago. Click here.

Oh well, might as well iron my shirts and prepare for the next train sessions, school children in the UK for Mind Maps and Memory skills, and NLP Master Practitioner in Milan, Italy.

It will be the start of over two months of nearly non stop training sessions I will be giving, taking me to Italy, Turkey and Bahrain. So I look forward to meetings all my old participants, and meeting new ones.

It is a good job I love my work.

A quick trip to Italy

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It was only for a few hours, but what a privilege to work with the participants in Vicenza, Italy on the NLP Italy NLP Practitioner course, realising they had taken in what I had taught them on a previous meeting. (see next blog).

I had opened the course a couple of weeks ago with a bad chest infection, and being part of the training team within NLP Italy, it was other trainers to guide the participants through the course, and I returned to the UK to give other courses.

Sunday saw me on the British Airways flight from London’s Gatwick airport to Verona. (see My Trip to Verona as a Tourist)

A very expensive 10 minute taxi ride (30 Euro) to the railway station from Verona’s airport, and then a relaxing train journey to Vicenza saw me at the Tiepolo Hotel where the NLP Practitioner course was being held, and it was a strange sensation to see faces I recognised, I did not know I was to work with participants I knew.

Even more strange was to see Owen Fitzpatrick, a fellow Society of NLP Trainer, who I had not seen for a couple of years, and I was to take-over from on the course. Owen and myself, along with Alessio Roberti had started the road of NLP at the same time many, many years ago.

Owen Fitzpatrick
Owen Fitzpatrick

In the evening, Owen returned to Ireland, and all the participants and assistants either went home or went about their own business, leaving me to walk the streets of Vicenza on my own, to eat a sandwich in my hotel room by myself. No-body loves me. But it was a wonderful view from my window to the snow capped mountains and rooftops. I can relax.

View from the Tiepolo Hotel, Vicenza
View from the Tiepolo Hotel, Vicenza

Sometimes you need to go further

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Today after bringing to a conclusion a number of issues, including booking a flight to Italy tomorrow for an NLP Practitioner Training I will be closing, I felt I needed to expend some energy, so I took a walk.

I took to the Thames Pathway at Kingston upon Thames, a walkway which follows the banks of the River Thames, stretching I believe some 30 kilometers, in one continuous walk.

I knew that at odd places along the way, I would be able to leave the Thames Pathway to catch a bus back into Kingston, so I headed downstream towards Richmond-upon-Thames.

I had no actual plan, but I began to enjoy the walk, wondering where the old factory of Hawker Sidley was where they built, tested and launched the seaplanes and the Hurricane, the Harrier Jump Jet among other great planes, then watching the passing river traffic, and other walkers.

At Teddington Lock, the sound of the river crashing over the weir raised my spirits, I love the sound of water, and the forever changing shapes the wild water makes. But I did not stop long, I pressed forth on enjoying the sights.

The weir at Teddington Lock
The weir at Teddington Lock

Keeping my eyes open, using Phillip’s Sausage, I saw a heron I suspect waiting for a fish meal, rabbits enjoying the sun, even a green parakeet flashing between the tree branches.

A heron near the River Thames   A rabbit near the River Thames
A heron and rabbit near the River Thames

I just kept walking.

I then came across Ham House with its’ gardens, a house built in 1610 in the reign of Charles I, full of fabulous paintings and history. I had driven passed the sign to Ham House, but never stopped to visit it. Well I had come tis far, why not have a look inside.

Ham House, Richmond-upon-Thames
Ham House, Richmond-upon-Thames

A rather expensive entrance ticket later, over £9.00, I went into the building, and I purchased (another £1), a single (but folded) sheet guide to the house, and after reading it, toured the house.

I am pleased I visited Ham House and viewed its’ contents, but I needed to finish my walk and get home to pack for Italy, and pushed on to Richmond.

By now it was 5pm and my feet were beginning to ache, I had no choice, but walk on as the amount of walkers increased on the pathway as I got closer to Richmond and the chance to catch a bus home.

I had set out at 1pm for a stroll by the river, but now it was over four hours later, oh my feet, but I had gone further than I intended and saw and learned more by doing so.

Thank goodness the bus only took just over fifteen minutes to reach Kingston, back home to rest my legs, and then prepare my evening meal and iron some shirts.