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Sicily Trip – Day 1-2: Flights & Palermo

Welcome to Days 1 and 2 in the journal of my Sicily trip! Let’s skip the intro and get right down to business.

Day 1 – The first day consisted of flying; LOTS of flying. I got up at 7:00am MST, hopped on a flight to Chicago, which went to Frankfurt, which went to Rome, which went to Palermo arriving at 11:15am the next day. That’s a little over 20 hours of travel time. I must say though, the overseas flight from Chicago to Frankfurt was the most pleasant one yet. There was decent footroom in coach and televisions in the back of each seat with different movies on multiple channels. I had no trouble getting comfortable and staying entertained. Talladega Nights was hilarious. However, I still can’t sleep on planes, so when we finally got to Sicily, I was exhausted.

Day 2 – The airport in Palermo is wedged into a strip of land that sits right between the ocean and a massive butte. It was quite an impressive scene flying in. Too bad I didn’t snap a picture.

The next beautiful scene was this one. Say hello to Tamara, our wonderful tour guide (that’s pronounced TAM-ara, not Ta-MAR-a). Let’s see, she’s in her early 30’s and has been doing Go Ahead tours for several years now (7 I think?). She’s recently married (for the second time) and speaks 4 languages (Serbian, Italian, English, and a bit of French if I recall). She’s originally from Serbia and came to Italy when the political situation in Serbia became unstable. Don’t worry, I’ll have more about Tamara (and pics as well) as we go along.

The rest of Day 2 was fairly uneventful. Tamara got the whole group gathered and on the bus for the ride to our hotel. Now for those who haven’t visited Europe before, this experience can be quite educational. You see, the bus is big, its driver is a local, the traffic is very heavy, and the other motorists (particularly scooters) are INSANE. I mean that in the “I drive like I have a death wish” fashion. That means the horn-honking is very liberal, and the near-misses of certain doom are quite common (and, of course, perfectly acceptable). My favorite parts were the narrow bus lanes that went against the flow of traffic with scooters constantly dodging in and out of the lane before us passing cars as we barrelled brazenly onward with horns blaring.

Our hotel was the fairly ritzy Hotel Mercur in downtown Palermo. We had to walk a few blocks with carry-on luggage in tow to get to it (no parking nearby – imagine that). I, of course, immediately went upstairs and crashed for a 3 hour nap. I awoke and met the rest of the group downstairs for 1+ glasses of wine (it was supposed to be 1, but I got “+” 😉 ). Then we all went across the street to a local italian eatery for the first of many traditional italian meals.

Okay, I must admit… I am a pasta FANATIC. I may not have any Italian in my heritage, but I can certainly feel the lust for Italian cuisine in the core of my being. Italian food is cheap (for the most part), plentiful, served by the friendliest people, and most importantly: served with endless decanters of red house wine. The feast we had that evening served as the template for the many enjoyable cuisine experiences we would share on this trip. Ah… Vino Roso de la Casa. If you learn to speak no other Italian, learn that phrase (Red House Wine). It’s served everywhere and it’s remarkably good for the price.

So anyway, the menu was prepared in advance. We had a very traditional meal:

  • Acqua Naturale y Vino de la Casa – bottled water and red house wine in decanters
  • Antipasto (appetizer) – in this case, a house salad
  • Primo Corso (first course) – usually a light pasta fare. In this case, penne with alfredo sauce.
  • Secundo Corso (second course) – usually a heartier (read: meatier) fare. In this case, spaghetti bolognese (meat sauce).
  • Dessert – gelato (Italian ice cream)
  • Cafe’ (coffee) – This might be a little unconventional since I understand that most Italians prefer their coffee in the morning (Cappuccino) or early afternoon (Espresso). In our case, it was regular coffee or cappuccino. Note: if you order “cafe'” in Italy, expect an Espresso, cuz that’s what you’re going to get.

Afterwards, we stumbled home (thank you vino roso de la casa!) and went to bed. The next day we were up bright and early for our first full day of touring. But that is another story… See you next time! (with more pics, I promise).

2 Responses to “Sicily Trip – Day 1-2: Flights & Palermo”

  1. on 21 Feb 2007 at 3:36 pm Mom

    Gosh, you left out much fun we had waiting in that endless security line in Frankfort and nearly missing our connection to Rome.

    I enjoyed your description of the trip. Good memories.

  2. on 21 Feb 2007 at 3:38 pm Mom

    Correction. Frankfurt not Frankfort. Shame on me.

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