Sicily and Amalfi
07.06.2007 - 15.06.2007
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We decided to get an overnight bus from Sicily to Amalfi which was full mainly of Italians, and few tourists. We settled into our journey and after 3hrs arrived at the ferry crossing back to the mainland. At this point you can either get off the bus and go up onto the deck of the ferry - or you can stay on the hot bus which had the air off. So, the choice seemed obvious for us and we headed up onto deck for the 45min journey. We did think it was a strange choice for many who did stay on the bus, until it was time to get back on and our seats had been taken by a nun. She had obviously decided that she wanted a little more space to spread out and had settled into our 2 seats. Now we were in a bit of a bind, as technically they weren't the seat numbers on our tickets as to our horror, at the start of our journey our allocated seats were taken by the drunk we had seen hanging with the gypsies at the bus-stop, filling his water bottle with cask wine for the journey.
Now Scotty being a good catholic boy didnt want to kick the nun out of her new seats, however we now had to decide who would be easier to kick out of our seats - the nun or the drunk!
In the end, we copped out and told the bus driver that our seats had been taken. It was quite funny to watch Scott try to communicate that a nun was in our seat to someone who didnt speak a word of English. He was making the sign of the cross and putting his hands together in prayer to try to get the message across, whilst I was trying to hold back my laughter. It must have worked as the bus driver got on the bus and blurted a few words in Italian to the nun, who with a huff and a puff begrudingly moved out of our 2 seats and back alongside someone else.
Luckily that has been our only transport hiccup, aside from our frustrating bus trip from Catania to Mt Etna where the bus driver and his side kick decided that within a 45min journey they had earned a half hour break to have coffee, buy cakes and smoke a few cigarettes before resuming the journey. (see picture of them in action below)
So far, Sicily definately wins the award for the craziest drivers in Europe. Mopeds and scooters rule the streets and pedestrians have to step out in front of cars in order to make them stop. This doesnt seem to phase the locals one bit who walk out with their baby in a pram hoping the cars will stop. I cringed everytime I saw this.
We did our fair share of hiking in Sicily. We visited Taormina which is a beautiful town perched on a clifftop. The train station however is by the sea, so it was a good 30min stair climb to the top. We were rewarded in the afternoon when we stumbled across a beautiful beach called Isola Bella - Beautiful Island (see picture below). The rocks did hurt getting into the water, but the swim was worth it.
We also did a day trip to Mt Etna, which we were a little unprepared for. ie: we wore shorts, singlets, took hats and suncream and didnt realise that it is a ski mountain during winter, so in the summer was still a chilly 12 degs. We did warm up though when we opted against the overpriced jeep bus to the active crater at the top and walked up instead. We had no idea what was at the top, or how long it was going to take, but about 2hrs later, with slightly stiff legs we made it to the top. We were 'rewarded' with seeing the steam coming out of the crater and feeling the heat coming out of the ground. I'm not sure its something we'd visit again, but the walk up their at high altitude was good to get the heart rate up.
After Sicily we had 3 much more relaxing days in the beautiful Amalfi Coast. We stayed in a very cute little bed'n'breakfast in the town of Amalfi and did a day trip to both Positano and Ravello, along with some good hours chilling out on the beach and swimming in the nice warm water.
In total, we've had 3 weeks in Italy and loved pretty much most places we've been to. It definately is a country spoit with lots of beautiful places.
Today we arrived in Croatia and tomorrow we board our 7 day cruise around Central and South Dalmatia.