The time had finally arrived to set off on the homeward journey. I had spent quite a lot of time in Ari hunched over a laptop trying to sort out a route to Den Haag by bike and trains. I now had a plan, and it was time to put it to the test. After waving goodbye to my cousin Anne and Gordon, the cycle to Pescara rail station was an easy downhill. I picked up my pre-purchased ticket from the machine and waited for the train. It arrived on time and my bike was loaded on no problem. After a while the ticket inspector appeared, and politely advised me that I should have 'validated' my ticket before boarding. I hadn't come across this system (now quite common) before, by which tickets need to be date-stamped in little machines on the platform before boarding. I think I was probably lucky to get a sympathetic conductor, and not be turfed off!
The journey to Milan was uneventful. Milan train station was palatial, and my first task was to buy the onward tickets to Zurich via Tirano (Italy) and Chur (Switzerland). I was in the ticket queue for about 30 minutes, but when I eventually got served the counter clerk was very helpful. Feeling somewhat relieved I set off for my pre-booked accommodation - Errepo Hotel - which was really a private house in a courtyard. The owner was a lecturer in the University, and was the perfect host. Locking the bike up in the yard, I went out to find a restaurant, then back to the hotel for an early night. In retrospect it was a shame that I hadn't allowed more time to savour the charms of Milan.