Thursday, September 13, 2012

ITALIA Day 5: Lost in Palermo, we find a beach

At last, we made it to Palermo - a journey of sweat and tears. The 7:30 AM bus from Taormina to the Catania airport was no big deal, even waiting for the bus from the airport to Palermo wasn't too bad if you don't count the swell of gypsies constantly bombarding you for money. It was the getting off the city bus WAY too early en route from the bus station to our hotel - big mistake! I'm pretty sure we ended up trudging a little over a mile with luggage in the hot hot Sicilian sun. Oops. To turn our frowns upside down, I left Stacy in the room to cool off (might I add it was the cheapest and BEST hotel we stayed in the entire trip, massive corner suite, superb AC, balcony, full breakfast and free WiFi) while I went to a market a few blocks away to gather nibbles and wine, a most successful outing I might say. When I got back, we decided to check out a nearby beach where we stayed for the rest of the day, beautiful Mondello.

ITALIA Day 4 (con't): Farewell Taormina

After our long day of fun in the sun, we got back to our hotel and got ready for our last night out on the town. We wandered around the high street and stopped to grab an aperitivo in IX Aprile Square and people watch. WE SPOTTED ALESSANDRA AMBROSIO , of all people, with her daughter. Too bad we didn't get a picture, she is absolutely gorgeous!  After a bit of pizza and wine, we headed back home to get a good nights sleep for our early morning start the next day - another long day of traveling to Palermo, back to where it all started.

ITALIA Day 4: To the Beach!

Towels - check; Sunscreen - check; Swimsuit - check --> off for a day of sun, sea & sand!

ITALIA Day 3 (con't): Stairway to Heaven

We decided to head into town after relaxing by the pool and getting ourselves all cleaned up. Instead of relying on Sicily's amazing (sarcasm!) transportation options, we took the staircase from our hotel on the edge of where Taormina meets Castelmola. The view the entire way down was just amazing, you could see the ancient theater and a few of the pretty piazzas. Once down into town, we strolled around the streets in search of a restaurant recommended to us by our hotel. We found it and ate a lovely meal, smoked fish to start (why don't we have smoked swordfish in the States???), white wine and tagliatelle with big chunks of swordfish for my main (Stacy opted for seafood risotto chock full of frutti di mare). We left the restaurant feeling full but had to have our first taste of gelato before we headed back to the hotel, yum!

ITALIA Day 3: A view from the top

After traveling on several buses, numerous twists and turns up the steep and narrow roads and the most expensive taxi in the world (15 Euros for a 2 mile journey!) we finally made it to our hotel. The room was overpriced for what it was, but the view from the outdoor pool made up for it. Absolutely stunning. Buongiorno Taormina!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

ITALIA! Day 3: En Route to Taormina

Just a quick glimpse of Mt. Etna on the bus from Catania to Taormina.

ITALIA! Day 2: Agrigento, a city of ruins

This was my best "all encompassing shot" that captures 
the main bit of Agrigento (right) with the Valle dei Templi or Valley of the Temples (left). The picture was taken from the top of the Temple of Juno Lacia, below is the Temple of Concordia, we were so hot and sweaty by the time this was taken and it was only 11:00 AM! After we finished our walk around the ruins, it was time for us to bus it back to the train station and make the hike (literally) back to our hotel to gather our things and catch the bus to Catania in order to catch (wait for it) another bus to Taormina (sensing a trend here with all the buses?). The night before when we first arrived, was more than interesting as we got completely lost searching for our hotel. We trudged up and down the steep and winding streets, steps and sidewalks of Agrigento and finally found it! No thanks to the sign that hangs outside the hotel which is only painted with the name on one side, thank goodness I turned around! After we got settled and cleaned up, we went out for a stroll on the main street until we found a restaurant to dine al fresco. I had a delicious plate of Pasta alla Norma, a traditional Sicilian dish made with eggplant, and we shared one of the best bottles of white wine I have ever had. We even bought another one to take back with us to the hotel - I'm still kicking myself for not remembering the name!

ITALIA! Day 1: A Long Day of Traveling

We've arrived! Well...sort of...after a 7:30 AM flight from Heathrow (surprisingly, it wasn't too horrible waking up at 4:30 AM because we saw Olympic Gold Medalist Missy Franklin in the security line beside us and a ton of other Olympians headed home!), a stop in Milan and a bus ride to the Palermo train station from the Palermo airport, we have our tickets in hand for our journey to Agrigento. With time to spare and our tummies rumbling we stopped, of all places, at McDonalds and low and behold I had one of the best "fast food" items I've ever had - a Caprese - only in Italy folks. After noshing, we did our best to wait patiently for the train which was a solid 15 minutes late, things in Sicily definitely run on their own time, aka. things happen when they happen. Off to Agrigento we go!