Hello family and friends, colleagues.  In the past three years, when Shirley and I have embarked on international trips, I created a “Travel Blog” to document the trip. Mostly this was to create a documentary history for my only family’s history, but also because some family and friends have shown some interest in following the trip, and rather than pepper Facebook or other social media with the travelogue, it seems more efficient to do it this way.  So here goes…Summer Trip 2015!

DAYS 1-4: MILAN, ITALY (and IHEA)

The purpose of the first week of our trip was to attend the international health economics association (iHEA) meetings, which was held this year on the campus of Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. 

We arrived in Milan after two very nice flights taking about 19 hours (including 3 hours layover).

It's incredibly hot in Milan!  Europe is going through a heat wave unfortunately – it has been in the mid to high 90s the whole time, and it seems it won’t get any better the whole time we are here.  Sigh. We had no air conditioning in our hotel room the second night we were here, but got that fixed. 

All this does make eating gelato each day feel like a necessity rather than an indulgence! J

We have to say the food here in Italy is incredible. Honestly, until today (Thursday, the day after the conference ended) we have not had a formal meal out at a restaurant, so thus we have eaten every meal at the conference, provided by Bocconi University and IHEA.  Every meal was the best we ever ate at a conference – just hard to describe –but just what you would expect from Italy – from pasta to Bruschetta to fabulous cheeses and wines to exquisite pastries. Yum.

Shirley presented her paper on Monday afternoon and Tim presented his paper Wednesday morning. This conference is fabulous not only because there are a lot of very bright people attending the conference, so we learn a lot and find out what the new, frontier areas are in health economics, but it is also the case that health economists tend to be very nice people by and large.  So it has been a lot of fun catching up with old and new friends. Tim has been going to these meetings almost since the beginning (this is the 11th IHEA Congress), so he knows many if not most of the IHEA members.

Milan is a gorgeous city with both wide and narrow streets, lovely 4-5 story apartment buildings that are a mix of old and new. Shirley really loves to glimpse inside the main building door on the apartments as they look like a fortress on the outside and often a lovely oasis of green on the inside. Residents enter in a tiny door cut into a huge door in roughly the middle of the street side of the building (see an example posted below). 


and here is what one of these apartment complexes looks like when you peek in!



The streets bustle with activity, with people riding along on Vespas, young and old walking briskly along on their daily chores.  
It seems many people smoke, like most of Europe.  As I mentioned to Shirley, I sometimes feel like I am on a set of an Italian movie,  with people acting out scenes talking vividly in rapid fire Italian that we cannot understand.  When we converse with them, they are very kind, and say either “BuonGiorno” or “Prego” and we use terrible Italian, and they usually then can converse with us in quite good English.  With a smile they serve us, and we say “Grazie” which again brings a reply of “Prego”. 

Thursday, after the conference ends we will spend one day seeing Milan before we head to Rome!