To the Beach!
“Palermo and beyond” by Amy:
After a very (very, very) long wait at arrivals in Palermo airport, I eventually set eyes on a leggy blonde, and the adventure begins. We board a train, following an extremely complex ticket-buying credit-note system. I sleep, Louisa reads about Palermo on her Kindle. We arrive into the Stazione Centrale at around 4pmish and wander round.
First impressions – very similar to Milan and Rome, but the people are smarmier and friendlier (lairy). We went for a wander on the beach and I had a very satisfying panini before we eventually trecked up to our little hostel – Palazzo Savona – in the ‘old’ centre. Very clean, light, kitchens (!) AC & wifi too good to be true though.
I doze, Louisa reads. We go for dinner at the ‘trattoria bionda’ following a short walk. Louisa has pasta alle sarde, I pasta alla norma.
The following morning we set off to discover Palermo’s history and were enthralled by the arabic mosaics of the Cappella Palatina, the royal chapel of Sicily’s Norman kings. Hidden within the main government building, access is restricted to a visitor’s entrance round the back. We finally stumbled upon the legitimate entry-point, though only after my near-successful attempt to join the pre-lunch meeting of parliament…Oblivious to any restrictive signs, I wandered straight through the main security entrance, only to retreat after an alarming bleap from the computer-generated security system “no card read, no card read…” and a mildly admonishing glare from a relaxed security guard seated behind a glass screen.
One of the aspects which most fascinated me about Sicily was the cross-cultural fusion I hadn’t seen in Rome, evident in the local couscous dishes, the spiralling arabesque towers and the mix of races on the streets. We barely scratched the surface of this fascinating city and I hope to return soon. Though we were both keen to exchange the chaos for the coast and set off west for Trapani, that afternoon.
Full of high spirits and thrilled with our cheap n’ cheerful B&B, upon arrival at Trapani we headed optimistically down to the sea-shore with a celebratory beer. Mmm that famous Sicilian coast we had come for…only to find an overcast scene of rubbish-strewn, glass-infested sand.
Me: “Is that a syringe?”
Amy: “I think I just saw a condom wrapper…”
We celebrated nonetheless on the steps with cars, trucks and rubbish vans speeding past behind us, chinked our plastic cups filled with Peroni and cried with laughter at the hilarity of it all, whilst Sicilian men sped by and honked their horns in the background.