Friday, March 30, 2012

Leaving Erice, Heading to Palermo

03/27, Tuesday
The only thing about traveling as we do, without planning beyond 3 or 4 days, is that we have to take at least 1-1/2 hours each day to get our next step secured. Today took a little longer because of the ferry connection we're taking from Palermo to Napoli on Thursday.

The Internet is invaluable, as is Ippy, but there always seems to be a glitch or two...for some reason our Visa card was not accepted online by the ferry operator, but, when I verify our reservations, I have made 3 unconfirmed reservations (because I tried 3 times to get the transaction to complete), and each of the reservations is non-refundable!

Oh-oh!!! I tried to phone the office, but only got a recording in help! So, we'd better stop at the ferry station to sort this out as soon as we get to Palermo. That means we need to find out where the ferry station is located (found on Maps App, okay), take the time to walk there first (20 minutes), then walk to the B&B (Maps App, okay), another 20 minutes.

I know, it sounds like I'm complaining about the small stuff. You're right! How bad can it be to be traveling in Europe, enjoying a special time together with Mom, eating great food, and seeing sights we usually only see in glossy travel magazines.

Glad Dick finally put a positive spin on this trip! He does handle the bulk of computer time, so I'll give him some complaining opportunities. A favorable outcome of not having a strict schedule is using suggestions from people we meet. We had not planned on Erice and that was definitely a high point. Today the cable car opened for the season running from Erice down to Trapani, and since we didn't pay ahead for other transportation down we were able to enjoy a great and quick trip on the cable car. It was Dick's suggestion too! Also I think we enjoy the flexibility of staying longer in a place, such as Sorento, if we have more sights to see.

Stress was high in Palermo! It is a big city, and the garbage workers are evidently on strike. Anyway, there is lots of garbage sitting around on the streets, at least 2-3 days Italian strike? That's not the stress though. (We watched the first show of the first season of The Sopranos last night, having never seen it before. We think Tony Soprano would fit in here as a Garbage advisor for the mafia, who have their fingers in the Palermo mess.)

We tried to find, and finally did find (after several disputes and retracing our tracks for about 300 meters carrying our "small" bags) the ferry ticket office so we could book our trip to Naples. An hour later we found the station, and have our cabin confirmed, saving €20 versus the online booking.

Retracing more steps, we found the B&B off the main street. We walked up three flights, only to discover there is an elevator. Claudia, our host, is our age, and very energetic. She has a cute little dog, Spinetta, and lots of suggestions for dinner. Rest a bit on a tiny balcony and Claudia serves us some wonderful strawberries as we watch the sunset.

We search out one of her suggestions at 7:30 near the Teatro Massimo. It's a real bargain with more than enough good Sicilian food, wine and dolci, but there's a gelateria just a block away. Wow, what these people can do with eggplant, sardines and peppers is a real culinary delight. The Sicilian cuisine has a Muslim and Arab background. Really very different than the mainland of Italy.

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