I never really did anything ‘big’ for my big birthdays. The highlights of turning 18 and 21 were the presents I got from my parents. For my 18th birthday, they paid for me to go to New York City – a place I’d always wanted to go from being little – and I was more than fine with that. My 21st was a similar sort of gift, although they paid for me to go to Ibiza with my friends instead.
A lot of people accompany those dates with a big party, or celebrations to match the occasion. Maybe a night out in another city, a VIP table at a club – whatever they did, I didn’t do. For me, it was nothing more than the standard fare Liverpool nightlife.
There’s nothing wrong with that, and from what I can remember I still enjoyed myself and loved the nights out. I should also point out that my parents hosted a family soirée when I turned 21, but it was nothing mental. Just some conversation and good eats.
So it’s kind of ironic that when in April next year, the month in which I’ll turn the ripe-old age of 23, I’ll be celebrating in a big way. Is there anything significant about turning 23? It’s over half of the male life expectancy in Sierra Leone (45), it marks the seven-year countdown until I turn 30 and two and three are consecutive numbers. Aside from that? No, there really isn't.
But this one’s going to be a bit more special for me because I’ll be joined by eight of the finest lads you’re likely to find, 774 miles away from home in The Moral Capital of Italy itself (I’m not sure if that’s a legitimate nickname, or someone’s changed the city’s Wikipedia page) – Milan.
Yeah! I could have picked somewhere like Newcastle, Sheffield or London to spend a weekend or go for a night out, but I knew that thinking outside the box would be better.
According to Mastercard’s Global Destinations Cities Index for 2015, Milan has been the 15th most-visited city in the world, and seventh in Europe. If there was nothing to do nor see there, then Milan wouldn’t be anywhere near that high on the list.
Of course the main selling point of the trip wasn’t Milan Cathedral and Duomo Square. In fact a couple of the lads were talking a while ago about going to watch Barcelona or Real Madrid play at some point, but when I looked in-season return flights were three figures. Plus it’s not the easiest of places to get tickets for, and it all put me off.
So I looked at other teams playing on the continent and saw that there was a game taking place three days before my birthday in Milan. Then I took to the Ryanair website and found flights to Milan Bergamo Airport for just a shade over £50.
I also managed to come across reasonably priced rooms for a central Milan ibis, and booked it through Hotels.com, which ended up saving us some money, and cost roughly £100 per person for nine of us for three nights.
With the mere mention of Inter Milan vs Napoli in our group chat, the majority became enamoured with the idea, and it all culminated in an afternoon of trip booking and FIFA.
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, San Siro – here we come!