I returned to Milan on Sunday through Malpensa’s Terminal 2, which may as well be in another regional province based on the rattly shuttle bus one must ride to arrive back at the more modern, globally-appropriate Terminal 1. This is where trains run every fifteen minutes toward central Milan.
Terminal 2 is the dedicated Easyjet facility (and Ryanair perhaps). Without a doubt, it is cramped, dark, and decidedly budget. In Europe, you get what you pay for, in terms of flight deals. You trade in cost what you sacrifice in time, hassle, and customer experience.
Nevermind my gripes with low-cost air travel, utilizing a series of public transit modes from ‘door to door’ is such a change of habit from the States, where in most cities your best option is a taxi or friend’s promise to collect you in the comfort of her Mercedes SUV.
After departing MXP onboard Trenitalia, I reach Cadorna station in ~37 minutes, followed by a few stops on the M2 green subway line, and then a seven minute walk to my flat.
It was the close of a rapid wine weekend in Bordeaux, where I spent six months in 2008, abroad from New College, and haven’t returned to since.
It was organized by the SDA Bocconi DiVino (wine) club and my friend Arthur, a native of Southwestern France and the club’s vice president. For only €320, the 48 hour jaunt included flights, hotel stay, two large meals, two wine tastings at area chateaus, and a brief guided tour of the city center.
My time eight years ago in Bordeaux was marked by some enduring friendships and life lessons, but I squandered many opportunities to explore the world and myself by mostly missing home and cursing the notoriously damp, gray weather of that region in the spring. In hindsight, I would more fully embrace the city’s beauty and cleanliness, youthful energy, and approachable scale.
Our group visited Chateau d’Yquem, a producer of Sauternes sweet wine. It was my first experience with such a varietal, made with 80% semillon and 20% sauvignon blanc grapes. The maison is owned by LVMH’s fine spirits side, which has allowed many small brands to upgrade and improve their facility and processes, and market to a much wider audience of discerning drinkers.
The bottle we tasted retails for somewhere north of €600.
Chateau Angélus was our Saturday stop, located near the small medieval town of St. Émilion. It is not under the LVMH umbrella, but was equally slick, precise in its execution of winemaking, and delicious! Their red wine is made almost entirely with merlot grapes, with some small element coming from heirloom cabernet franc. And, slightly more affordable at about €250.
For lunch, we visited Le Logis de la Cadene, for more wine with dishes like warm asparagus soup, partridge, and a sampling of desserts. It was founded in 1848 and one of the France’s oldest restaurants.
Saturday night we headed to Le Carreau in the center of Bordeaux, which felt much like a hip eatery of San Francisco or New York, in terms of decor, menu, and average age of patrons. It was very different than the city and scene I remembered from 2008.
It was a meticulously planned two days—with many thanks due to the leaders of the DiVino Club. Though wandering can be fun and serendipity can bring you together with nice experiences, having someone plan a trip, who is versed in the landscape of the place, means the time can be truly relaxing. Eat, drink, and don’t worry about the details.
If you come to Europe and are a wine lover, Bordeaux isn’t a bad place to explore France’s culinary treasures. Two or three days is plenty. The weather varies in the springtime (when I lived there it was terrible for months). But the closer to summer you get, the sunnier and drier it gets.
Check out my Bordeaux Spots google map for more info on my experiences in Bordeaux.