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Diaries: AROC MALAYSIA & AROC SINGAPORE ITALY ADVENTURE 2004
Day 1 – 27th May, Thursday
The Malaysian contingent comprised of 8 people, Yazid & wife, Othman & wife, Steward & wife, Tajul and Jeffrey. The group from Malaysia with the exception of Steward & wife departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on the 3.40pm flight to the Singapore Changi Airport. Steward & wife had already made the trip down to Singapore the previous day. At Changi, we regrouped with Steward Loke & wife, and met the Singapore contingent comprising of Rashid & wife and Hubert Chin and his son Gabriel. Our flight from Changi departed at 9.25pm towards Bangkok where we had a 2 hour transit before boarding the next flight to Milan at 12.40am, early Friday morning.

Day 2 – 28th May, Friday
We arrived at Milan Malpensa Airport after a flight of almost 12 hours at around 7.20am local time. The group went through immigration and customs without any hassle. We were met by the hotel representative that led us to our awaiting bus. The weather outside was nice, not too cold at about 21 degrees Celsius. As we arrived in the morning, we endured and compared the morning rush hour enroute to our hotel in Milan. Not that much different than our own rush hour in our own respective countries.

We reached the hotel at about 10.30am and proceeded to check-in our rooms. The group, although tired from the long flight was eager to explore Milan. The itinerary for the day was free and easy. After a brief discussion, the group proceeded to the nearest Metro underground train station just around the block from the hotel towards the shopping area of Milan in Duomo. The group broke up in smaller groups for shopping, and exploring the scenic tourist spots around the beautiful Cathedral, which was undergoing restoration.

Day 3 – 29th May, Saturday
Another free and easy day. As expected, the group went out at their own leisure, exploring shopping and tour sites around Milan. We visited the Saturday morning market in Milan and bought fresh fruits amongst other goodies.

We toured the city further and visited the Castle as well as the Alfa Romeo Museo cars marking the Giulietta 50th Anniversary held by at Duomo.

Day 4 – 30th May, Sunday
After breakfast, we met up with members of Club Alfa Sport Italy led by Stefano Rossi that came to pick us up from our hotel. Simple tokens like t-shirts and car stickers were exchanged outside the hotel before we boarded their cars towards the Monza race track. Stefano forwarded his apologies as their Club President (Carlo Monti) had to be in Rome for urgent business activities. We had an open program at Monza. We wandered around and explored the festivities at Monza which also included the 50th Anniversary of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. There were so many interesting Italian cars, old and new, to see in the parking lot on display just behind the pit area that would leave any Alfisti drooling. Alfa Romeo had their own booth displaying their latest models and some classics.

At other booths, it was like a flea market sale for Italian car enthusiasts. There were parts for classic cars and bikes, some still new which were still in its original packing or secondhand parts, items too numerous to mention. Those that own classic Alfa Romeo models would definitely freak out and think that they were in heaven.

On another part of the parking lot, there were many booths selling miniature car models. As expected, our group was on a buying spree snapping up Alfa Romeo miniature cars. When we regrouped later at the grandstand facing the racetrack, they compared the car miniature models purchased. Other spectators smiled as they noted our group was like little children with new toys in hand. We sat and watched the race events which included the Historic F1 race series and other race series before leaving the track at about 5pm.

Day 5 – 31st May, Monday
After breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and boarded our bus towards the Alfa Romeo Museo in Arese, just outside Milan. For the rest of the trip, the 12 of us had this 40 seater bus at our disposal all to ourselves. Upon arrival, we were met by the museum guide, Mario Lodola who also happens to be an Alfa Romeo test driver. The group had a 1 hour guided tour of the 5 levels of the museum. Like excited children, the group snapped away photos of the numerous Alfa Romeo models on display, especially the race cars. After the guided tour, we presented tokens from our respective Clubs to Mario. However, the group stayed on at the museum for another hour or so, as some members kept taking never ending photos of the cars on display.

From the museum, the group proceeded westwards towards Turin, just about 2 hours away. After checking in at our hotel in Turin, we proceeded to explore parts of Turin. Tajul led the way to a Morrocan Muslim restaurant near the train station where we had dinner. After dinner, we walked and wandered around the shopping district not far away from the hotel.

Day 6 - 1st June, Tuesday
After breakfast and check-out, we boarded our bus and proceeded towards Chivasso, just outside Turin where the N-Technology factory is located. N-Technology manages Autodelta Squadra Corse, the official Alfa Romeo race team. They also build and prepare the Alfa Romeo race cars and Fiat rally cars for various series like the ETCC, GTA cup, WRC, etc. We were met by the factory director, Mauro Moranzoni who explained how the race and rally cars were built. Unfortunately, the ETCC 156 cars were still en route back to the factory from Brno, Chezch Republic after a race so we did not get to see them. However, we managed to see the 147GTA cup car, an Alfa GT 1.9JTD (for Le Mans 24 hours), and some Fiat Stilo Rally cars as well as many race engines, old and new. At the end of the factory tour, we presented our tokens from our respective Clubs to Mauro.

We proceeded back to Turin to visit the Turin Transport Museum. There, we had a brief tour and viewed the many Italian makes and models that were on display. The group spent a fair time at the Franco Ragni souvenir booth at the ground floor where they purchased items like keychains, badges and scripts. Franco Ragni is one of the OEM manufacturers and distributors of Alfa Romeo logos, badges and scripts and keychains since the 1930s.

After Turin, we proceeded towards Bologna, southeast of Turin, about 4 hours drive away. We arrived at our hotel just before sundown at about 9pm.

Day 7 – 2nd June, Wednesday
After checking out of our hotel in the morning, we proceeded northwards towards Maranello, about 45 minutes away. The roads were quite clear as it was the Italian National Day, and thus a public holiday. We reached Maranello early, passed by the Fiorano test track and Ferrari factory main gate and headed for the Ferrari museum. The Ferraris on display were intoxicating, to say the least, from F1 cars to the Ferrari Enzo. After the museum, the group proceeded outside where there were many souvenir shops selling Ferrari memorabilia and miniature cars. Again, our group was on their usual buying spree, adding more miniature cars to their ever-growing collection.

Later, we proceeded to Como, just north of Milan, about 3 hours drive from Maranello. Our hotel was in a strategic location facing the scenic Lake Como. After checking-in, we explored Como, visiting the scenic points and tourist locations including the Funicular ride. There wasn’t much shopping as it was a public holiday and most shops were closed.

Day 8 – 3rd June, Thursday
Before checking out in the morning, the group converged on a shop selling miniature cars not far behind our hotel. The shop owner was noticeably a very happy man that morning as our group purchased almost 1,500 Euros worth of miniature cars adding to their respective collections.

After checking out, our bus proceeded north towards Switzerland. We crossed the Italy-Swiss border, about 30 minutes away and headed towards Mendrisio where the famous Foxtown Shopping Center is located. Located at Foxtown, the factory outlets of designer goods such as Gianni Versace, Ferragamo, Prada, Bruno Magli, just to name a few, were present.

After a few hours of really intense shopping, the group proceeded south back to Como, Italy and headed for a Giorgio Armani factory outlet just outside Como town. Again, shopping was the order of the day before we proceeded back to Milan for our last night in Italy.

Day 9 – 4th June, Friday
We checked out of our hotel just before noon and proceeded to the Malpensa Airport. Our flight departed Milan at around 2.30pm.

Day 10 – 5th June, Saturday
We arrived in Bangkok at about 6am local time followed by a 2 hour transit before arriving at Changi, Singapore at around 11am local time. The Malaysian and Singapore groups bid farewell to each other at Changi before boarding their next flight to KLIA at 1.45pm.

THE END.

Posted: TheTaj @ Thu Apr 07, 2005 3:56 pm


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