203 – Monday 9th November 2015: From one Beach to Another
We said farewell to our Austrian neighbours and set off with the intention of getting fairly close to the port for Sicily. We mostly used the motorway as we wanted to make good progress, having lingered an extra day in Praia de Mare.
Given that it gets dark at 5.00, we headed off for the coast at about 4.00. The Parking app guided us to a small marina in Lido di Palmi. There was water (which we used) but no other services. We may have been able to stay there but there was a large heavy gate and we don’t like the thought of being shut in … and the marina seemed to be in constant use, so potentially noisy. A few hundred meters further on and the road stopped … and so did we. We had passed a good few higgledy houses on the left, winter closed restaurants on the right with one remaining bar open …. all the local men seemed to be outside. Boys playing football. The beach was filthy … it looked like all the summer’s rubbish had not made it to a bin. But the sea was calm, fishing boasts darted back and forth and we were treated to another lovely sunset. The closed up restaurant nearest us had kindly left a toilet unlocked … so guess where our toilet contents went!
204 – Tuesday 10th November 2015 – And into Sicily
In the morning, we passed the same men by the bar or mending nets. Quite a few young lads obviously had not made it to the school bus, preferring to help dad. The women pushed old stroller style push chairs with a trays of fish to the roadside and sold from there. Cars and vans came, negotiated and bought. As we left two women waved swordfish at us … but we did stop and I bought two fish, despite the seller trying to load me with about 5! If I had known how cheap it was, I might have bought that swordfish … only EUR2 for whatI think are two decent sized sea bass. I gutted them outside the motorhome and being so fresh … no smell at all. But real life. Unchanged since 1920s?
The ferry to Sicily is an experience. We stopped to buy the tickets before going the queue to board and a chap helpfully (in German) translated my motorhome and a three month open return request to the attendant … and then in a very charming way, asked for EUR5 for his help. We laughed that I was poor, but gave him the shrapnel out of my wallet …. he got the price of a small coffee. The ferries do not seem to run to a timetable, but ply back and forth as quickly as they can. It is organised chaos! Lots of staff, fairly unidentifiable as no high vis, waving cars, busses and trucks on in all and conflicting directions, even before the boat was emptied of the arriving traffic. Both boarding and disembarking saw 3/4 lanes merge (and I use the word ‘merge’ loosely) into fewer lanes.
We elected to use the motorway to get close to Cefalu, near where K’s Aged Ps have rented for week one. Interesting … very over grown: sometimes on both sides making the hard shoulder unusable and the two active carriageways effective 1.5! And frequently down to one lane with countless road works, although little evidence of the works. A lot of tunnels, but pretty much hugged the coast.
We managed to avoid driving through the really narrow streets of Cefalu, thank goodness as Chardonnay would have been much the worse off – on all panels, as a couple of locals beeped at as and told us to turn around. Back up over the town and onto the sea front and we are installed in a Parking. To make life easier we will stay here 7 nights and negotiated a small discount. Supermarket nearby and easy walking distance to the old town. We joined the locals and a few tourists in the early evening perambulations and found the BEST ice cream vendor. K’s mission: partake every day!
205 – Wednesday 11th November 2015: Chuffing Cefalu
We ran along the beach front … just over two miles … good, but need to find a longer route.
The Aged P’s drove down to us and parked nose to nose with Chardonnay. We all needed an easy day so wandered the old town of Cefalu. It is actually pronounced Chefaloo, not Sefaloo or Kefaloo.
We lunched in front of the Duomo – very indifferent (nasty) food but wonderful location. Had an ice cream (day 2 mission accomplished) and investigated the train station. Supper for 4 in Chardonnay.
The almost matching towers and Roca behind make the cathedral an impressive sight, filling the Piazza. Unfortunately the cloisters were undergoing work (we could actually hear work going on :)) and there was a barrier to prevent close inspection of the apse mosaics and marble work.
206 – Thursday 12th November 2015 – Marsarla … Town and Wine and Battling Sat Navs
The Aged P’s were due at 9.30 … guess what they were 20 mins early …. fortunately we had expected them to be a bit early and were just about ready.
We took the motorway along and down to Marsala. The hire car Sat Nav was programmed in German, and Mutt named her Gudren, after her childhood pen friend. However, just to be sure of the route, Mutt put Jane (brought from home) on too … it was like an England / Germany needle football match. Who would get in first with a direction? Did they agree? Jane was less gushing with instructions, and on the nose until on a motorway she did not know about … so I reckon we will have to call it a draw!
The plan was to enjoy some wine tastings and have a light lunch. We only half accomplished this as it was over 3 hours drive … we should have checked this out first … poor Dad …. he could have driven from home to Scotland in the time. With Sicily being an island, we sort of forgot that it is one third of the size of Ireland … distances are not exactly down the road.
Nearly lunchtime so a quick walk and then TripAdvisor to find a restaurant ‘around me’ …. excellent. Good English and a great meal. The wine was a Grillo, which we will try to buy in the supermarket. But the starter …. two sorts of mozarella, one with fried ham/ bacon and the other stuffed with a sort of cream and anchovies …. this would have done us …. fabulous. Mains and then we finished with a glass of … Marsala and the biscotti to dunk in it. No more tastings as all the entoteca were on their long lunch … J and I will probably go back.
We really liked Marsala once we got away from the children beggars in the the carpark and into the marble streets of the old town. Peaceful and attractive and no traffic, as in Cefalu, where you are constantly leaping into doorways to avoid the locals’ cars and mopeds.
My mission of an ice cream daily … no chance … too tired to walk into town …. and we’d been sat in the car for over 6 hours … how does that work?
207 – Friday 13th November: Pulsing Palermo
We met the Aged P’s at the station. Knowing they would be early, we planned to be 10 mins early …. they were there before us (of course!) and had already bought the tickets.
Palermo is bustling and alive. Architecture is a mix of Norman, Arab, Spanish, Italian etc. Some fabulous squares and a port.
Another TripAdvisor lunch stop. And this was AMAZING! It was a small place in a back street, and initially we were the only diners. The host Michele had a great patter … little English but with lots of gesticulations and emphasis on each dish being a ‘Michele invention’ …. yes we would have the EUR20 lunch ….
We all agreed it was the BEST (as in tastiest) Italian food we’ve had and we had a floor show from Michele to accompany it … from trying to explain that his wife Iolanda did no work (and in true pantomime style as sided with her) to explain he would cry if he had to throw our left overs away … we have a massive doggy bag!
It was a very slow walk back to the station … K and J via the Arab market to buy some of the ingredients for a long slow lunch tomorrow at the Aged P’s apartment … we plan an easy day, but good food – again!
Mission failure day 2: no ice cream … no room!