I’ve been to a few Motorcycle shows over the years. Our local show is the Scottish Motorcycle Show at Ingliston, about 20 minutes drive from the house and tends to be the first weekend in March. Then a few years ago there was a one off show at the SECC in Glasgow, on a smaller scale. Then I’ve also been to a couple of events that the Police have run, the family and I went to a couple of the Cumbria Police events at Carlisle Race Course – they always seemed to do well with their live bands which went down well with MrsL. I struggle to remember the proper name for the event – RoadSafe rings a bell as it was supposed to be a general road safety event, not just bikes. It was a great venue and speaking to a Lancashire Bike Cop who was also an observer for Morecambe IAM got me on to the IAM instead of Rospa. I’ve also been to Durham BikeWise a few times and will be going this year, MrsL likes the atmosphere and the historical centre of Durham has its own charm.
In terms of proper Motorcycle Events since I got a bike and some kit the only reason for going to the Scottish Motorcycle Show was to see a supplier of earplugs to get moulds taken. The ticket price for MrsL and I of £24 in advance (+ fees) or £31 on the door seemed a bit steep to me, and I’d rather put the money to the bike to keep it on the road or put it towards a meal for me and MrsL. There was also an element of the same old for each visit.
I considered the national show at Birmingham, but again costs of travel and accommodation plus admission fees put me off. And for some reason Birmingham didn’t quite appeal to MrsL as a destination.
Then I read a two page spread in BiKE magazine suggesting things to do – one of these was to attend the EICMA show in Italy. They claimed Milan was well served by Budget Airlines. So I checked, and indeed EasyJet had a direct flight from Edinburgh Airport (next door to Ingliston) to Milan Malpensa. Total flight cost for the trip would be around £133 for MrsL and I, and for some reason Milan was more appealing as a destination for MrsL. It was beginning to shape up, especially as the cost of flights was about the same or less as Birmingham or London would be. And being the great people that they are, the Italian show organisers have what they call a “Ladies Day” on a Friday – women get in free! And the ticket price was 12 Euro – less than the Scottish Scottish show and for one of the biggest shows in Europe. And there was a rumour going that a new BMW boxer GS was about to come out, and EICMA is traditionally a launch show for the big manufacturers.
As I kicked in to planning mode I started looking for Accommodation and connecting transport. The EICMA show is held at Fiera Milana Rho which has a few hotels in the vicinity but as I began to realise is miles out from the centre. Malpensa Airport is a fair distance out from the city too, meaning about 30 minutes by train or 45 minutes by coach. The popular coach service (they sell tickets on the EasyJet Flight) stops off at Fiera Milano Rho so that may have been an option. My favourite, a city metro service, is a strong feature in Milan and looking at the website it strongly featured a ticket to the Fair – Five Euro for a return ticket.
Then I discovered something called a winter schedule which is an adjustment to flights that airlines make in the winter for weather and passenger volumes. In the case of Edinburgh to Milan, it meant a single flight out every other day and similar back. So it would mean an extra day there – we would fly out Wednesday and come back Saturday to be there on a Friday. So that gave us a day for sightseeing, which would be an open top bus tour for as much as we could stand.
So it all shaped up. In the end I chose the Ibis Milano Centro to stay in, having stayed with Ibis or Accor hotels in Reading and Berlin. The price for the room was excellent and they had a package that included breakfast (and tickets to the roof of the Duomo). This hotel was also near to one of the routes of the bus tour, and included a shopping area which again was another feature to sell the idea to MrsL. It was also mid way between two metro stations, one of which was the direct line to the Fiera.
The trip was excellent, although my lack of Italian and experience of travel made it a bit of a stressful experience but the show was massive and a lot better than the UK has to offer. We liked the hotel which was nice and clean and at an excellent price, and I was really glad that I had gone for the “Culture” package that included breakfast. The metro was excellent, though like Berlin they confusingly have their Urban railway network under the ground too. The unitary ticket system doesn’t help either – the ticket we had for the metro got us on to the platform for the railway. The clue was the double decker trains though, the metro is single decker.
A latter discovery exactly round the corner from the Ibis was a small supermarket – which we discovered on the last evening and I’d wished we had noticed sooner as the hotel vending machines were typically on the pricey side at least in comparison. MrsL also told me that the local wine was excellent, as usual the local stuff was cheaper and of better quality than the export stuff we get.
We also had a good run on the city sightseeing tour, after an initial bit of confusion with the online booking I had made – you just use it on the bus –we went round both routes once, and then again and got off at the Duomo.
Other highlights were the ice cream shop we found round the corner on the first night, and it was a bonus that the chap who served us had excellent English. The double plain chocolate ice cream / fondant was amazing. Even on a chilly November evening. And the view of the Alps on the way in to Malpensa was a delightful if obvious surprise.
I’ll follow up with another two posts, a shorter summary of travel and accommodation, and a post about the show itself.