What, you want to pay to use the toilet?

Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
Trip End Nov 20, 2007

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Day 9 (Messina Sicily) October 26

We woke earlyish to watch the entry into the harbour before daylight.  Quick early breakfast before our Taormina excursion.  No queue for shorex like we saw on first day, get our stickers and straight out on to bus and take off (no waiting).  
We thought Taormina was along the northern coast, but instead it was south.  We drive though Messina (lovely city - 90% destroyed in an earthquake in 1908, 10th strongest in history.  Out onto the motorway and wind along the coast through tunnel after tunnel.  Lots of people on the bus who shouldn't be on this trip - it was labelled very strenuous (I guess people don't read).  Turns out to be ok for most people anyway and very easy for us (especially after our training in Venice and Dubrovnik).  
Scenery is quite spectacular with lots of cliffs and buildings build in precarious places.  Roadways spiral up hillsides on pillars. The buses can't make the corners unless the cars stop.  We stop briefly to view Mt Etna, but it's barely visible - able to see the snow though.  Taormina is very pretty and green. While we're waiting to enter the town I overhear a discussion between two people beside me.  It went along the lines of -
Wife: "I need to use the bathroom."
Husband: "But they're free at the theatre."
Wife: "I need to go now."
I look around and catch their cabin number on the luggage tag they have attached to their day bag - 703X - a deluxe suite.  Maybe bitching over 1 euro to use a toilet is how they can afford the suite!
The theatre is interesting - build by the Greeks for dancing and music and looking out over the ocean and then later modified by the Romans so that gladiators and animals could fight.  They closed it up so there was no ocean view (more important to have a few extra statues). Bombing during WWII partially restored the view. 
We leave the tour group that we've reluctantly stayed with all morning (we're both fast walkers and they are realllllly slow), Al is desperate to have a coffee and experience La Dolce Vite (sp?) so we choose a café where Pete is happy with the cake selection.  It is very nice sitting there watching the hordes plod by. Grab some more wine in a wine shop as we're walking out of the town.  Love this wine thing and have been lucky with our choices so far.
Then it's back on the bus and back to Valetta.  The guide is an amazing fountain of information. She never (that's NEVER) stops.  Early sailing today - leave at 1pm.  We're still blanketed in a haze that has been hanging around all morning.  Even though it was very beautiful, I know we didn't get to see Sicily at its best.   No rain though.  The ship's horn vibrates the table as they say goodbye to the pilot boat and we head off through the small (3km) straight between Sicily and Italy's mainland.   Was hoping to see the island/volcano of Stromboli, but it looks like we're heading too close to the Italian coast.  We talk to some of the C. Kiwis on the bus - there are 50 of them in their group (Tower Insurance).
We've already got a bar friend - don't need to use our card to buy drinks anymore - he already knows our name and room number - Lawrence (of Arabia) apparently.
Stromboli appears through the haze. We sail quite close but the pictures are crappy due to the haze.  We can make out the houses and the plume rising up above the crater and that's about it.

Go to show after dinner.  Something about hats.  Pretty ordinary.  Good singing, good dancing but a bit pale compared to the Celebrity extravaganzas.  We leave before it finishes.  Huge day tomorrow.
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