Sometime in early October my friend Stefano pinged me and asked if I’d come to WordCamp Italy in Milan to work at the WPPhotos table on contributor day. I mentioned it to my employer/sponsor at the time and he said “Sounds great! Get me a budget.” You might be surprised that it didn’t take me long to get a budget pulled together. Needless to say it was approved and in early November away I went!
I don’t often travel alone internationally, but it worked out. I got from the airport to MIlan via train just fine, and walked through the rain to my hotel. I was pretty beat when I got there, and really looking forward to the hot tub in my hotel room. I walked to the desk and told him my name and he poked at the computer for FAR too long and said “Un momento per favore” and disappeared for far too long. He talked to several different people and finally came back to me and said “We were expecting you yesterday.” I didn’t anticipate 24 hour travel time. They got me in though, and I headed up stairs. Sadly there was no hot tub in my room. Back downstairs I went.
It took a while to explain what I wanted, and as it turned out, while there were several of the CLASS of room I reserved, only ONE of them had a hot tub, and it was broken. Sadness ensued. Fortunately my cool shower had 6 heads and I was able to blissfully soak in hot water before crashing.
My First Evening
I put the word out in Slack that I was in town looking for company for dinner. My new friend Laura from Yoast pinged me and let me know they were all going out for pizza and I was invited! Their hotel was only a few blocks from mine so I hiked down there and met a bunch of new friends (Hi Sama, Iolanda, Enrico, and Laura!) We got a cab to pizza place, which turned out to have seating in the “basement” which was a Roman era storage area.
Contributor day was fun. The Photos table is a little different from most tables, people rarely spend more than about 10 minutes there, learning about how they can take part, and then they move on. My new friend Caroline from the U.K. spent most of the day at my table however, and we had a wonderful time. People moved through all day long and we got some great new photos. The Photos project passed 5000 photos that weekend!
At the end of Contributor Day I had to get myself across town and Uber and the cabs were working right. I was going to walk, but a friend said “I’ll help you get home on the train, it’s super easy!” (Narrator voice: it wasn’t easy).
I bought a train ticket, but it immediately didn’t let me in, I had to have a train worker let me in. My friend isn’t Italian, so she was trying to work out the signs. She did it, and it worked fine, but there is NO WAY I could have done what she did. She left me with only one leg left. I got off at the right spot, but my ticket wouldn’t let me OUT either, and I had to get help. I have no idea how the train in Milan works AT ALL.
WordCamp was held at a University that had been the first hospital in all of Italy, long ago. It was a cool old place.
I spoke about Image Formats and it went pretty well. Mine was one of three English talks. I had a little problem understanding questions, but it worked out, and people seemed to like it.
After WordCamp, Duomo de Milano
I stayed an extra day because it made my flights a LOT cheaper. I slept a bunch and got pizza from a place across the street, and then decided to walk to the Duomo, which is the cathedral that was just a couple blocks from my hotel. I had planned on just walking around the outside, but then I saw that with the right tour you could get on the roof. I’ve always been a fan of rooftop hangouts, so I asked a guard. She said they were full for the day, UNLESS you get the private elevator ride to the roof, for an extra… two dollars. I bought tickets and away we went.
I got in an elevator just a little bigger than a phone booth with another couple and a guard. It took just a couple minutes to get to the roof. I took a ton of pictures, all with my pano Moment lense.
The Ride Home
I got some fun pics on the way home. These first two were in the Milan airport.
These next two were in Detroit. It was a big space, filling most of the hall in width. I scanned my boarding pass, and then this sign had my info on it, but ONLY I COULD SEE IT. No-one else could see it. No special glasses, no AR on my phone, it was just there. Magic.
When I finally got home at midnight, exhausted, feeling like I’d caught something, I did one last thing.