by Patrick Burke
After the long haul from Johannesburg via Doha, we eventually arrived at Milan Airport. It was 07h00 local time.
At the immigration gates we were greeted with long queues, as only two officials had reported for duty (much like OR Tambo we thought at the time).
My luggage disappeared for a while, taken off the conveyer by a well-meaning tourist of Chinese persuasion.
Our fearless leader chose the train to Centrale, the Main Station. Bad move!
After much confusion, some swearing, seven espressos and several change-overs, we eventually arrived at our hotel some five and a half hours after touch-down. After a welcome shower and short cat-nap, we headed for the Duomo district, (now well acquainted with the metro system) in search of neckties and cuff-links, accessories forgotten at home.
Ties?, no problem in finding these. Cuff-links?, another story, well cheap ones, that is. We learnt that the Italian for cuff-links is “pulsecino”(sic) and in search of these we set off, popping in at every Tratoria along the way.
Well oiled, we eventually found some in a small tie-shop near the Cathedral (not very far from where we started our search). At eighteen euros a set, we were reasonably happy with our purchases and back to our hotel we went (well, staggered).
A short walk from our hotel found us at a local eatery, our European guests already there to meet us. A great dinner was served in true Italian style. Antipasto, prima and secondi, followed by tiramisu and a black current aperitif of great potency. All the while, the local wines flowed in great quantities.
Our heads hit the pillow at around 01h00 in preparation for the long day ahead, the first day of Mostra Convegna.
Over the next two days, we spent our time visiting exhibitors from far and wide, taking in as much as possible in the time available. What an exhibition it turned out to be. We were very well received throughout, partaking in the local hospitality so generously forthcoming. An exciting future awaits our industry, as we come to terms with energy conservation, water and environmental issues, global warming etc., etc.
Thursday night, neckties, cuff-links and all, we attended the gala event at the Villa Dorini, a 17th century palace in the heart of Milan. Another evening of fine wineing and dining lay ahead of us.
To soon it was time to leave Milan and our hosts, heading back via Doha once more.
I would encourage all to attend M C E 2016. It is certainly an eye-opener and an introduction to what we can expect from our industry going forward.