Palermo Sicily

Trip Start Sep 24, 2006
Trip End Sep 01, 2007

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Monday, December 18, 2006

An early Buon Natale to you from warm Sicily.  Palm trees, 16 above but Santa Clauses out and about, Christmas trees decorated in front of churches, in piazzas, Christmas lights up above the streets, all the icons we are used to at Christmas, sans the snow and cold.  Seems very strange and to tell you the truth, I'll miss a little of the white stuff this year and visiting friends and family.  But I know I have many more Christmases ahead of me with it so I keep that in mind! 
Anyway I had a pretty bad train from Napoli to Palermo on InterCity Trenitalia. Apparently they are notorious for bad toilets and the reputation certainly holds. Anyway it was an 9 hour trip and for 1/2 hour the train goes on the ship from Reggio de Calabria to Messini Sicily.  So we could get off and use a bathroom with water and buy some water (none on the train). I sat with a very nice woman, Liliania,  who didn't speak much English , who was returning home from Roma.  She took me under her wing and had her family who came to pick her up, drive me to the hostel that I had tried booking by phone but couldn't as when I called from Naples train station, the person who answered the phone apparently was the cleaner who didnąt speak English so promptly hung up on me!  Good thing her niece, Vittoria who spoke great English and is a College student of literature and history,  came with me into the place as the desk reception did not speak English -  it was the night shift (11:30 p.m.) Also apparently the train station here gets very scary at night so it was good that I could go with t hem in their car but what a feeling it is to be in the midst of the scary traffic!  It is just as bad as Naples and I was told to get off the streets by 9 p.m. (not that I am fond of roaming streets at night) which is certainly not the case in Florence or Rome.  It is very safe there at night.  anyway there is lots to see in a very short space here, about 2 km square are most of the cathedrals, piazzas and the famous 'quatro cantos' or four corners with statues on each one.  I moved to another hostel today, a real cheap deal.  The other one was more expensive but there were so many to choose from on the internet I wanted to wait to check it out before I choose another one, and I wanted one I would feel comfortable in if I stay here for the 24th and 25th. I plan to go to Agrigento on Wed.  It has archeological sights, and at about 160,000 people, quite a bit smaller than here. I have to book my bus and accommodation shortly - I find that kind of stuff, the planning really takes time.  There is so much traffic and crazy driving in Italy that by 5 p.m. I have a giant headache!  There are no lanes for traffic, cars and scooters just weave in and out at random, selecting whatever place on the road has a bit of space.  And the parking is something else - on the sidewalks, blocking other cars, etc. anything goes. But like elsewhere, people are friendly, in fact I think Sicilians are friendlier than other places; I don't think they get as much tourism as other spots in Italy.
bye for now, Buon Natale, Happy New Year - I had a Christmas icon all ready to paste into this message but then I decided to do another message and lost it- it's the thought that counts, right!
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