Syracuse - Sicily.
Trip Start Sep 15, 2007
29Trip End Oct 17, 2007
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It was not until now that I started to think about my Sicily trip in depth. I mean this ferry was going to drop me off in a new country and Sicily is not exactly the tourist capital of Italy. I had a map of the area I was being dropped off at (Pazzallo - south east Sicily) and I knew I had to somehow get to Syracuse which is the city I had selected as my first stop over, but I was not sure how I was going to do that
The ferry trip was fine, I was worried about getting sick so I sat as close to the centre of the vessel as I could to avoid any impending rocking. I needn't have worried as there was little movement and I had a pleasurable time writing the previous day's journal entry on my laptop whilst watching a "brat pack" teen flick on the big screen. Mandy Moore starred in it, an all time classic...not. The ferry port I disembarked at Pazzallo was basically an industrial port. I mean there was nothing there. I was standing on a dock with no buildings, no bus terminal, no shops, nothing. There were two coaches waiting for the passengers who had prearranged day trips to various parts of Sicily but that was obviously not me. My adventure was about to begin!
I noticed a guy with a "Tarago" type van talking to 2 girls and a guy and it looked like they were negotiating a lift to somewhere. I was soon to discover that the 2 girls were from Melbourne! The guy was a German ex-pat that now lived in Gozo so I got into the negotiation and organised to take a ride with them. Seems like the driver was going to take us to the actual town of Pazzallo for 5 Euros each. Ahhh Euros, so these Maltese pounds I have in my wallet wont do hey? Hmmm
During the journey the three of us chatted as best we could. Hubert intrigued me and I was keen to learn his story. I mean here is an elderly German guy catching a ferry from Malta to Sicily with a backpack on his shoulders. Turns out that he bought an old farm house in Gozo in 1992 and spent the next 13 years slowly doing it up whilst living 6 months in Gozo and then 6 months in Germany whenever he required more money. He retired 2 years ago and had been living full time in Gozo ever since. He looked remarkably well for his age. The fact that he was on the same adventure as me in his 60s (carrying a massive backpack) speaks volumes for him. Hubert was a genuinely happy and content looking man. He was meeting some friends in Messina (very north of Sicily) whereupon they were going to hire a yacht and sail around the volcanic archipelago of seven islands known as the Aeolian Islands
Approximately 1 hour later I was at Syracuse. Hubert turned to me, grasped my hand and said "Andrew, pleasure, good luck with your journey". All I could do was smile and wish him the same. Hubert lifted my spirits and gave me a strong sense of warmth inside. Hard to explain. Travelling on your own makes you more inclined to speak with strangers, probably for companionship, maybe just to simply have someone to speak to. I was glad I had met a German man called Hubert today. I walked out of the train station, picked a direction that I thought pointed towards the town centre and walked.
I spent about 90 minutes walking the streets. I had enough information from my guide book to get around. Basically Syracuse is split into two distinct areas
Being Sunday most things were closed and the city was very quiet which gave me some time to just look around at my own pace and get my bearings. I got a pizza and coke from a café, took a seat and just relaxed. It was great. By this stage it was around 2:30 in the afternoon and I was getting tired after such an early start and the adventure getting here. Unfortunately I got incredibly lost walking back to my motel, and I mean lost. I did not pay attention to where it was and started to get a little concerned. I wandered around for well over an hour before I finally started to recognise some things and was relieved to get back and have an afternoon snooze
Despite finding my way back to my hotel I was still none the wiser about where things were in relation to it. The best way to solve it was to put on my running gear and run myself around until I got my bearings, and it worked a treat. I had a great run for around 45 minutes, took in a lot of sights and really sorted out where everything was (old and new city). This old guy on the street jumped out in front of me and pretended to dribble a soccer ball in and around me. I think he thought I was some sort of football player or something. It was cool, I pretended to be Francesco Totti for a day, waved, smiled and continued on. Sicily seems to have the same fixation with the automobile as Malta. They are absolutely everywhere and driving is not for the feint hearted here either. Oh and they drive on the right had side of the road (Malta and Australia are the left if you are wondering...). I don't know how a country makes a decision on which side of the road its inhabitants drive upon but it seemed odd that Malta and Sicily chose different sides. Anyway I had to keep my wits about me constantly whilst walking and jogging. As in Malta a zebra crossing has no meaning whatsoever. Even if you are half way across the street on a zebra crossing, the on coming cars wont stop. I am not exaggerating. It was treacherous!
After the run I settled in for the Premier League highlights in my room before getting dressed and heading out for Ortygia
One thing I noticed was that everyone was dressed very well. I had only packed a pair of jeans and a few t-shirts for Sicily as I wanted to only take my laptop backpack with me so I was a little underdone. Believe me, you could dress up as much as you wanted for this place and fit in. I picked up some gelato on the way back to the hotel very content with a great day. I could not wait to set out in the morning and see everything Syarcuse had on offer. I planned to catch a train to Catania early on Tuesday morning so had to get everything done tomorrow that I could here.
So far I have avoided the Mafia...well I think I have, hard to say, the guy I bought the gelato off looked a bit suss. Don't worry mum, I wont buy from him again.