Entourage, Night Life and La Scala

on Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The weather in Milan has been pretty terrible the past week, but it has not slowed me down. Last Thursday I went to a club called Le Banque for its closing night since the owners open up an outdoor location for the summer season. Oscar had a friend from Sweden visiting so a group of us went together. On Friday, Tomas and Keli (both from Iceland) had a group of us over for dinner and it was awesome. Tomas turned out to be a pro in the kitchen and made some wonderful steaks with a mushroom sauce. After the great dinner Jaap and I went to Oscar's apartment for a short celebration for his roommates (Giulia) birthday. To celebrate they wanted to play beer pong, the american college party game. As I was the only American there, they made me play the first game in the hopes that they would be able to say that they beat an American. Unfortunately for them, they didn't have beginners luck and Jaap and I came out on top. Afterward, we headed to Karma for the opening night. I was looking forward to Karma, because a friend who was here last semester from Wharton had told me that it was his favorite club to go to. I ended up having a great time and definitely want to go back again. The place was HUGE and had a ton of open outdoor areas so it will be even better when the weather gets nicer. 

I had also been looking forward to Friday for a very long time because it was when I would be hearing which group at JPMorgan I would be working at. While I was at Karma I texted Francisco and asked him to check my email for me to see if they had sent it yet. I was ecstatic when he replied telling me that I would be joining the Consumer & Retail group!! I really wanted to work in the group and I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason so I was very excited. After we left Karma we got a piadina hamburger from a food cart around the corner and it was really good. A piadina is like a big tortilla so it was basically like a hamburger with lettuce and tomato except in a wrap. 

I am really excited to be going back to NYC this summer. Francisco and Kayla might be coming to visit at the beginning of the summer as soon as we get back from Italy and it would be a lot of fun. Last summer I was overwhelmed with work and living there and everything but I am really excited to be going back. You can see the JPMorgan building in the picture below... it is to the left of the MetLife building with the top that looks like a crown.

On Saturday Marine wanted to take me to a place called Luini's for panzerotti.  A panzerotto is a pastry that is like the combination of a calzone, an empanada, and a donut. Filled with mozzarella and prosciutto or other fillings it was absolutely amazing and I will be returning again and again. As soon as I had it I was excited to go with my brother who arrives in 1 week. Since we like most of the same foods I know that he will love them. Later that evening I went to Bar Milano which is an aperitivo with a group of friends and I had a great time. Emelie, a friend from Sweden, had 2 friends visiting her so it was fun talking to them. I am always amazed at how well all of the Swedes I have met speak English. They are all literally at least bilingual and it's great- I wish the US was like that with Spanish! After we left Bar Milano we all went to a bar called Cream and had a drink. The bartenders there were crazy and filled the glasses up 98% of the way with alcohol before adding any other juices/colas/mixers so if someone is in Milan and wants a bar with good value I know just the place. I was planning on going home after Cream since I had been out the previous 2 nights and thought it'd be good to go to bed before 5am. My friends talked me into going to Just Cavalli with me though and I couldn't say no after they offered to pay for me to get in. On the way home we all stopped for another piadina hamburger... yes, it is THAT good. 

I spent most of the day Sunday watching Entourage but I took a break to study for and take the test for JPMorgan. I knew most of the material but had a couple typos so I didn't do as well as I could have. I did pass though so that's good. From Thursday to Sunday I watched seasons 2-4 of Entourage and I still can't make myself stop watching. I downloaded a program called uTorrent just to download the shows and I absolutely love it. You may remember that I watched the first season in January at the airport on the way to Milan. I would have to say that it is definitely my favorite TV show. So far this week I have watched the 5th season and am working on the 6th season. The 7th season will start being aired on HBO this summer and I am really excited to watch it. 

On Monday I didn't have any classes since my Innovation class ended and my only other class that day was cancelled. It was great to be able to relax and hang out without having to go to a lecture. Not surprisingly I spent most of the day glued to the computer screen watching Entourage.

I also had a great week because yesterday I went to watch an opera at La Scala and it was free. It was a rehearsal for a German Opera and it was awesome to see it in the most famous opera house in the world. My favorite part was the music played by the orchestra and I would love to go to a concert or ballet with my brother while he is here. I was disappointed earlier in the day because I had class while the tickets were distributed and I did not think I was going to be able to go so I came home to watch Entourage. During class there was a huge thunderstorm and my phone must have stopped working because while I was home I realized it didn't have any signal. As soon as I restarted it I received a text that Oscar had sent earlier in the day saying that he had gotten me a ticket if I could get there by 7pm. When I saw the text it was already 6:30pm so I went outside and ran toward the opera house until I got to the nearest taxi stand. I am glad I restarted my phone because I almost missed the amazing opportunity! After the show we went to McDonald's for a cheap dinner and then to Oscar's for a small get-together. 

Two days ago Johan and I booked a trip to Barcelona so I am also REALLY REALLY REALLY excited for that. It is definitely a city I didn't want to leave Europe without visiting so it was a great feeling to book the flights. As long as the volcano in Iceland doesn't disrupt the trip it should be a great time! I have spoken to Juan, my mom, and Francisco quite a bit this week and it has been great. Family really is one of the few things in life that you can ALWAYS count on. Love you guys! One of Juan's friends is going through a rough patch so I hope that everything goes well for him. 

I haven't been taking that many pictures lately but I hope to start up again in Barcelona so that my posts are more appealing to the eyes! I was also just taking a look through the old picture I have on my computer from my old phones and I almost forgot about the Philadelphia Eagles game that Sim and I went to last year! Those are some great memories!

Spending Time in Milano (Post #25!)

on Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ciao! As the title suggests, I have been in Milan over the last few weeks. I realize that I have not really been caught up with my blogging so today I hope to take care of that. Unfortunately I have had a cold for like the past 2 weeks (I am finally getting better) so that is part of the reason why I have been staying in town.

Here is recap of the past couple of weeks...

Two Wednesdays ago I went to Old Fashion with some friends and had a good time. This was my second time at OF with the outside area open and it was very nice. Unfortunately they started playing old hits from like the 60's and 70's toward the end of the night which I didn't really enjoy but everyone else there was loving it so that's good I guess. The next night I went to Le Banque (a club which is located near the Duomo in the building of an old bank) after my roommates birthday party at Arcobaleno (the dorms of Bocconi) but I left early because that was when I received the news about my grandfather's passing. The next few days I spent at home studying and talking to my family. I also ran out of groceries that week so I ended up eating out a lot at aperitivos for meals. The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful for me besides my trip to the Duomo for mass which I wrote a blog entry about.

The next week I was really looking forward to Wednesday, because that is when Inter was playing Barcelona for the 2nd leg of the Champions League Semifinal. I met up with Johan, Oyvind, and Gustaf and we all watched the game at a restaurant in Navigli (the area of Milan near the canals with all the aperitivos). Inter received a red card very early in the game so they had to play mostly defense the whole game and it was super intense the whole time. Everyone in the restaurant was on the edge of their seats the whole time and I have never been so nervous for a game I was not actually playing in. In the end, Inter beat Barcelona 3-2 in aggregate and advanced to the Champions League Final for the first time in nearly 40 years. Francisco will be here for the Champions League Final so we are going to go to Piazza Duomo to watch it on the big screen with the rest of the city. In case you missed the game, here is the celebration at the end!

During the game Gustaf told us about how he had been to the Ferrari museum in Maranello and test drove a Ferrari for 15 minutes for 60Euros. Needless to say, I am going to look into taking a trip down there to see if I can test drive one as well. It might not be possible since I don't have an EU driver's license but that would be incredible!

The next few days of last week I just spend studying and trying to feel better but on Thursday I went to the Alfa Romeo museum with a few friends. Bart, a friend from Holland, has his car here so picked me up after class with the rest of the gang (Jaap, Daniel, and Krishan) and we all headed to the outskirts of Milan to visit the storied car maker. I never realized that Alfa Romeo had started in Milan so it was cool to learn about its history and also see some really really old cars. Overall it was a lot of fun to go to the museum but to also spend time with some friends. On the way home we stopped at Burger King and it was great. Friday morning I met up with Johan, his roommates and a crew of Norwegians to celebrate Valborg, a Swedish holiday. They didn't really seem to know why Valborg started but it's basically a huge party where everyone sprays champagne on each other (think a formula one victory celebration). We also ate strawberries and chocolate which is also a tradition. It was a lot of fun but afterward I decided that I wanted to get my hair cut because it makes me feel even hotter when I am outside. When I got to the hair salon the guy asked me why my hair was full of champagne (or spumante in Italian) and it was a really entertaining exchange. My haircut only cost 8Euros and now I look like I am ready to go to work!

Here is my last picture before my haircut!

Friday night I went out to a club called Alcatraz with Laetitia, Daniel and Carlos (a friend from Brazil) and we had a good time, but it was SOOOO far away. I probably won't go back just because it was so far away. Afterward we had a hard time finding a cab so I didn't get home until way past my bed time. Saturday evening I went to Oyvind's place for a pre-party and I ended up being the first person there so we watched some scenes from a tv show he really likes and it was really funny. After everyone else got there we all had a good time talking and hanging out and then we all went to Just Cavalli for a night of dancing. I decided to head home relatively early because I had to do homework the next day but I still had a lot of fun. After I left it took me like 30 minutes to get a cab but I was finally able to jump in a cab before a group of other guys and as we drove away they all chased the cab which was interesting.

The next day I found out Krishan's dad had passed away a couple days earlier in an automobile accident. Krishan is a friend from Germany and was with us at the Alfa Romeo accident. Another one of my friend's grandfather also passed away this week so it has been kind of crazy with so many tragic things happening. On Monday my group for my Innovation Management class had to present for 8 minutes on the format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD so I spend all day Sunday working on it. The two girls I was working with both wanted me to present alone and I didn't really like the presentation we had all put together earlier in the week so I revamped the entire thing and then spent hours going over it to make sure I really liked it. The next day I rehearsed it many times because we were scheduled to be the last group to present (7pm!). All of the hard work ended up really paying off because several people told me it was a great presentation and even while I was presenting I could feel everyones' eyes on me. In contrast, when other groups presented it seemed like half the class was not paying attention and people in the audience were talking to each other. As I was leaving class the professor stopped me to congratulate me so it was a great way to end the day. That was  my last lecture of that class so now my Mondays are pretty open and now I basically just have 3 lectures. I will still have a final for that class in June tho so I need to start studying for it soon. After I left class I met up with some friends at Cheese, an aperitivo next door to Iguana, for Rachel's birthday. You might remember Rachel as my really nice friend who I went to church with at the Duomo. Relaxing after my presentation and having dinner with friends was a great way to end the night!

Tuesday I finally was able to go grocery shopping and it feels great to finally have some food here! I went to a grocery store called Esselunga because it was raining a lot and I figured I would have to be outside less if I took the tram to get there rather than walking to Sma, the one I normally go to. The only different things I got was beef (I normally don't cook meat here) and macaroni and cheese (no one in Italy eats it). For dinner I made the 4 pieces of meat for dinner and they were delicious. I was able to eat all 4 pieces because they were pretty small. Yesterday the inner Mexican in me really wanted fajitas for dinner so I invited a few friends to a Mexican restaurant (Ristorante Messicano in Italian) called Papas and Beer. As the name suggests, it was a Mex-Tex restaurant but Jaap, Johan, Daniel, and I really enjoyed the fajitas. It was not until after I decided to eat Mexican for dinner that I realized that it was Cinco de Mayo so that was pretty cool. After dinner, Jaap and I met up with some friends at a bar to watch the final of the Coppa Italia between Inter and Roma. The game was really intense and we all knew there was going to be a red card at some point because the game was extremely chippy. In the closing minutes Francesco Totti took the honors of getting the red card when he kicked another player intentionally in what was one of the dirtiest plays I have ever seen. He followed up by touching the player in the head with his toes and for a second I thought he was going to kick his head. In the end Inter won and earned their first title of the season but they have a chance to win a total of 3 which would be really impressive. They can still win the Scudetto by winning the Serie A and then of course the Champions League if they beat Bayern Monaco (as they call them here in Italy). After the game we went to our Icelandic friends house for a few beers and to watch some youtube videos which were really funny. I showed them the grape lady video which is a personal favorite and they really liked it.

Here is the goal from the game last night by Milito! Inter won 1-0 and this was a great shot!

Today I got done with classes and now I am just in my room relaxing and trying to get caught up with studying for my JPMorgan training exam. Oscar and some other friends have guests from out of town visiting so these next few days I will probably be going out with them to celebrate. Tomorrow I am going back to the Icelandic guys' place for dinner and then we are going out to a club called Karma if the weather isn't too rainy. IT has been raining for the past week or so and there are no signs of it letting up. Francisco will be here in 13 days and I couldn't be more excited for him to arrive. We are going to have a great time together.

Champions League Semifinal: Inter vs Barcelona (4/20/2010)

on Saturday, May 1, 2010

In February Inter and Milan played against Chelsea and Manchester United and I really wanted to go to those games but was unable to get tickets. After Inter ended up beating Chelsea and CSKA Moscow to advance to the semifinals against Barcelona, I immediately decided that this was a game I was NOT going to be missing. Barcelona is considered by many to be the world's best team right now, and they also have the best player in the world in Lionel Messi. You might remember from my post about my trip to Madrid that I saw him score all 4 goals against Arsenal in the quarterfinals. To be able to watch Messi play in person at a point in his career like this, would surely be a one in a lifetime opportunity.

The tickets went on sale to the general public on Monday morning at 8:30am the week before the match. To ensure that I would be able to get tickets I woke up at 6am and arrived at the bank in Porta Ticinese at 6:45am. For whatever reason, the only place to buy tickets are the banks (in this case it was the Banca Popolare di Milano). You can also buy tickets online so I brought Oscar's passport with me to buy him a ticket and he sat at home to try to get the tickets online. With both of us trying to buy tickets we thought there would be no way we would not be able to get them. I initially wanted to get to the bank really early at like 3 or 4am but I called an Italian friend of mine (Alessandro Maurelli who studied abroad at Wharton last semester but goes to Bocconi full time) who said that there would absolutely be no one there until like 7am. When I got to the bank I was relieved to be the 4th person in line but was frustrated with the fact that the first 3 people in line would randomly walk away for like 15 minutes at a time to eat breakfast and then come back to the front of the line. Apparently once you get there and someone sees where you are in line then you have the right to come back to the same spot. I am more used to the lines in the US for black Friday where if you get out of line and no one that you know is there to save your spot then you lose it. In reality, I should have gotten there at 4am and once the 2nd person got there I could've come back home and slept for a few hours. In true Italian fashion, 2 seconds before the bank opened the 2nd guy in line let a couple of his friends come in front of him in line. It proved to not matter though, because the first guy in line who was like 65 years old has brought like 10 photocopies of his friends passports and wanted to buy 20 tickets. He had managed to buy 5 by the time everyone in the crowd started protesting and they made him leave. By this time he had wasted like 25 minutes because the man at the bank selling the tickets seemed a little incompetent and it took him forever to sell each one. Since so much time was wasted all of the tickets were sold out and no one else was able to get tickets. At this point, I was getting ready to shed a tear or two because I was so disappointed because I wanted to go to the game so badly.

A dutch friend of mine (was on the Tuscany road trip), Toine (pronounced twon), who was at another bank and was also unable to get tickets called me and asked me if I wanted to go get a coffee and brioche since we had woken up so early. I agreed and when we got there we probably looked the 2 of the most miserable people in the city. Maybe miserable isn't the right word, but I know I was really disappointed that I wasn't going to be able watch such a historic game at San Siro. This all changed when I received the phone call which was heard around the world (that's what I like to call it anyway). Oscar called to tell me that Oyvind (another friend here) was able to buy tickets online so I literally ran out of the place and sprinted all the way home. Everyone in the city must have been trying to access the site because it was extremely slow so I had like 10 different windows and with 2 different browsers open trying to buy tickets. Finally Toine (he made it here a couple minutes after I did) and I made it through to the purchase screen and when it was time to check out we used his credit card since I figured it'd have a higher chance of working since he's from the EU and my international card might get blocked or something. Unfortunately he realized that there was a pin that he needed from home to make it work so while I waited at the screen he ran home to get the pin and then call me so I could finalize the transaction. I went on my balcony  to see where he was and it took him like 5 minutes to leave my building which was really weird. To make a long story short, he was able to get the pin and after like 25 mins of waiting and continuing to try to get tickets we were able to get 2 tickets for 90Euros each and it was a HUGE relief and we were both elated. I later found out that Toine had gotten stuck in the elevator here while trying to leave because he opened the door before it had reached the bottom because he was in such a hurry to get home. My elevator here is like an antique and there are 2 sets of doors and if you open the inner doors too early then the outer doors will still be locked. The doorman, Domenico, later told me that a guy got stuck in the elevator and he had to help him get out but I pretended to not know what he was talking about.

The rest of the week went by in a blur as I anticipated the arrival of the game day. The day before the game I helped a couple of friends from France film a video for their home university in the Piazza Duomo and then afterward I went to the soccer store behind the Duomo and bought an authentic Javier Zanetti Inter jersey. They had a promotion so getting a name and number was free so I paid an extra 10Euros to get the Champions League patch on the sleeve. In reality I got ripped off but the name and number would have normally cost 10Euros anyway and I always fall victim to silly promotions like that. I also ended up buying a couple of t shirts (not soccer related) and got a whopper for lunch so I had a fantastic day. The next morning I woke up with an extra spring in my step from the excitement of the game later that day. I proudly sported my Inter jersey to classes that day and could barely concentrate on anything related to school. I met up with Toine, 2 of his friends from Holland who also came for the game, and Oyvind and a crew of Scandanavians to go to the game at around 6pm. When we got to the metro station near the stadium all I could see were either Inter or Barcelona fans. The police made the Barcelona supporters exit through a different exit because they had to take separate buses to the stadium. From the metro station they had a bunch of buses going to the stadium and it was easily the most packed bus I have been on (except for maybe a bus in Torino that was crazy full but I am not really sure why that was the case). The bus started to shake because everyone started cheering and screaming like crazy out of the left side of the bus and thats when I realized that the bus with the inter players was driving past us with their police escort. The side windows were tinted so we couldn't see anything but a friend said he could see Murinho (their famous coach) sitting in the front seat.

The outside of the stadium was like a carnival and even though there was still over an hour until kickoff, we could already hear the chants from the inside of the stadium. Once we got our tickets Toine and I jogged to the gates so we could get to our seats and relish the experience. The atmosphere inside the stadium was absolutely electric. The goalies for either team were the first players to go out on the field and the cheers for the inter players made the place shake. When Barcelona's players came out all you could hear were whistles (In European soccer, whisteling is basically the equivalent of booing- you'll see what I mean in the video).


Before the game they played the Champions League theme song over the loud speakers and that is when it really sank in that I was actually at the game. I really have no words to describe the game itself but it was actually just like what I was expecting except louder and more emotion filled. I had an incredible time and the fact that Inter upset Barcelona by winning (3-1) made it even more incredible. After each goal the random Italian's next to us would hug us and I barely had a voice by the time the game ended. I really don't think that you can compare ANY sports event to the game I had the privilege of watching. Not the Super Bowl, World Series Game 7, the Kentucky Derby, nothing. This sport flows through the veins of the fans and it is like their religion. The place was so charged with energy that after the game I felt exhausted physically and emotionally but it was incredible.

After the game nearly everyone stayed and sang songs and celebrated in the stadium for like 20 minutes. When the official Inter song "Pazza Inter" was played everyone went crazy and I think I was the only person in the entire stadium which was sold out (81,300 people!!!!) that did not know the words.

After the game I bought Toine and I some Cannolis to celebrate while we waited for his friends. We then headed to a bar/ lounge called Circle and celebrated the wonderful day.

I may never attend such an incredible game in the rest of my life! It was absolutely perfect and might turn out to be the highlight of my time here in Italy!

Forza Inter!


P.S. Here are the game highlights in case you missed the game!!!