Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Sicily 2010 - Day 1

After a long, long journey broken up with a couple of - sporadic at best - hours of sleep, mine and Lucy's plane finally touched down at Trapani airport. In our tired haze we went and sat at the baggage claim and started chatting. A couple of minutes passed until it suddenly hit us that we hadn't in fact checked in any baggage and the only luggage we had taken was already in our hands, rendering our being at the baggage claim absolutely pointless.
So first thing was first, we needed to cure our tiredness; with the time being 10.30 AM, the day had barely begun and we had a lot ahead of us. So what better way than a good Italian caffè to wake us up? The second I had swallowed the espresso my tiredness began to subside.

From the airport we got on our pre-booked coach to Palermo. We were due to meet Alessio that night in Catania which is about 2 hours 40 minutes by coach from Palermo. However we weren't meeting him until around 9.40 PM so by the time we reached Palermo at around mid-day we had a good few hours to kill.
The night before while tossing and turning on the floor of Stansted airport with nothing more than a lumpy suitcase for a pillow, I had gone and bought a Sicily travel guide to give me something to do. This proved useful for our time in Palermo, with the map allowing us to find our way back to the Central Station (above) when we needed to get our coach that night in Catania.

The first real thing we saw was this giant tree at Villa Garibaldi. There were a few giant trees like this; this one being far from the largest although the biggest one was cordoned off. We had an amazing sandwich for lunch at a little Panino bar called The Navy, which I would love to return to next time I'm in Palermo.

Next we found our way to a beautiful view of the Mediterranean sea.

Later, we captured this photo of a Vespa, an Italian icon.

We strolled through the beautiful Villa Giulia, where we saw this statue of Poseidon.
This is a stall at a street market we visited. It was a long street that snaked along among the buildings, lined with stalls. I got a real sense of Italian-ness from the market, with people all around me yelling about how their fruit was the best in Sicily or how their fish was caught today. Another scene that greeted me here was a group of vendors taking a break and playing some cards. It was a very cultural experience.

Then it was off to the Palermo Cathedral which we went inside and saw the beautiful art it had to offer.

This picture was taken at Quattro Canti, a piazza at the intersection of Via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emmanuele; essentially a giant beautiful crossroads smack-bang in the middle of the city. We passed through Quattro Canti on the way back to the station where we then set off to Catania.

Two hours and forty minutes later we had arrived. Alessio greeted us with open arms and took us home on the bus where we then got off at the stop nearest to his house and walked the rest of the way, catching a glimpse of the Cathedral at night.

Once back in his flat we could relax. Our travels were complete. We had reached our destination. We had gorgeous home-cooked Italian food in our stomachs and I was finally able to change my clothes after the 24 hours since I had last been able to before leaving my house.

Some of Alessio's friends came over and we sat eating pasta and watching Italian TV. After the large amount of travelling, walking and heat we had endured, we were pretty exhausted and no matter how hard I tried to listen to the Italian conversation between Alessio's friends to get involved, the words were just blending into incomprehensible sounds as my tired mind failed to process them quickly enough.

It was time for sleep.

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