29 May, 2008

Sicily 2008 - three days in Trapani

Lavanzo Harbour After spending three days in a B&B in Catania, me and Becks were fortunate to ask Angela (who managed the Catania City Centre B&B) to find us a nice B&B in Trapani. We had thought long and hard where we wanted to stay, and after dismissing Palermo, it was between Selinunte and Trapani. We discovered getting to Selinunte would prove difficult… So we stayed 200m away from Trapani Train Station at a B&B called Cortille di Venere It was well priced at only €48 per night, and was ideally situated in the old town of Trapani.

Trapani is a great base for the non-touristy east side of Sicily. There could be lots to do on this side of the island, but we didnt find it! We just spent three days chill-axing.. three days of slowly wandering round, having a few beers and lots more coffees, and smoking lots and lots of cigarettes.. I had finished the two books I had bought with me (Flashmans Lady, and Flashman and the Mountain of Light - Great Books!) and we were walking at snails pace round the town!! It was sooo quiet!

Anyway the next day we wanted to go to Selinunte, but my alarm was set for weekdays only and we didn’t get up till 11:30.  Instead we caught the hydrofoil across to Levanzo.. one of the beautiful Aegardian Islands. Only 450 people there, and its the epitome of peace and quiet.. When we got back to Trapani, we went out for a beer and some food. (but forgot to get some food..)

Sunday was my 33rd birthday, and I did find out the day before that everything was going to be closed, so with our hangover we went to the beach for the day.It rose to 35°C during the day, and we had to go and relax in the shade for the rest of the day.. I also discovered Brioche with icecream.. basically an icecream in a bun! tasty… That night we went out for a lovely meal at a new restaurant that had only just opened.

Our last day, and again we wanted to go to Selinunte..  and again we were thwarted. The bus only runs at 6:55 and 12:35 and takes three hours.. it was not meant to be. Instead we slowly wandered Trapani, drinking lots of espresso, and taking lots of pictures…

Tips ‘n’ tricks

  1. Guidebooks.. dont forget them!If you do bring one, get a decent one - Lonely Planet or Rough Guide

  2. Its possible to go on holiday with just one cabin bag (article to follow) — just plan it carefully!

  3. Be prepared for days of nothing… just sit back and put your feet up with an espresso

28 May, 2008

Sicily 2008 - Three days in Catania

Greek Theatre in Taormina Me and Becks finally managed to get away for our first ever holiday together and we chose Sicily.

We chose to fly with RyanAir from London Stanstead, and as our flight was leaving at 06:05 we had to get the train the night before. Arriving near midnight, we settled down to relax in one of the cafes. I was soon asleep! Anyway, we finally boarded and were soon arriving to a beautiful, if slightly windy day at Palermo Airport.

Once we had got the bus to the capital city, and boarded a €23 train, we soon found ourselves wandering through the city streets of Sicilys second city, Catania. We were looking for our B&B, and Angela had given us some great directions so it wasn’t long before we found Catania City Centre B&B. We were given a very comprehensive review of the city and local tourist sights, and promptly booked a trip to Mount Etan the following day.

Mount Etna can be quite stunning.. unfortunately we went on a day with a bit of drizzle! However, we still saw some underground lava created tunnels, and one of the crators at 2000m .. no running lava though. Apparently, its worth going during the night if that is what you are after. Once we got back to Catania, we wandered round and discovered the Castle and also some beautiful side streets. We went out to a lovely fish restaurant that night as well, where we were ‘treated’ to witnessing the Sicilian version of illegal parking.. simply burn the car !! (oh and Manchester United beat Chelsea in the Champions league - it was down to penaltys) The next day, with a small hangover, we decided to get the train over to Taormina.

Views in TaorminaTaormina is Sicilys tourist town. As many Sicilians wanted to tell us, “You won’t see the true Sicily in Taormina” .. maybe, buts it a wonderful place with an ancient Greek Theatre, and it has great views! Anyway, we arrived at the train station and decided to go walk along the beach to find the way up to Taormina, as its situated on a hill… it wasnt until we had walked about 4km that we realised we had gone the wrong way, and at this point we got the bus to the town!!

It seemed to be full of a lot more tourists than usual, and we put this down to a cruise liner we saw in the bay earlier. One of the main sights we wanted to see was the Greek Theatre. It was only €6 for entry, and it was worthwhile. The history and the views are stunning. We wandered round for an hour or so, and I took a lot of pictures - see my flickr page - but soon we decided we had to explore the rest of the town. We headed down the Corso, grabbed overpriced beers and pizza and espressos, and before you knew it we were absolutely knackered and headed to go and get our bus home, which was slightly more expensive than the train there.

On Friday we decided to move on, and after putting the world to rights with Angela at Breakfast, we walked on down to the Train Station only to miss our train! Instead we got the bus, which was much quicker and we soon arrived in Palermo to catch our onwards bus to Trapani..

Tips ‘n’ Tricks?

  1. Take some money before you go, only about one in five Sicilian cash machines let me draw money from abroad.

  2. Learn some basic italian.. not many Sicilians speak English. “Parle Inglese?” … no

  3. Learn to love espresso… oh my god! its great… and keeps you energised!

  4. Take a decent guidebook.. Lonely Planet and Rough Guides both have there updated 2008 versions coming out two weeks after we got back from our own holiday!