Palermo A Surprise Packet

Trip Start Nov 27, 2012
Trip End May 18, 2013

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Where I stayed
BEST WESTERN Ai Cavalieri Hotel Palermo
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Italy  , Sicily,
Sunday, January 6, 2013

Palermo, Sicily - Never Judge a Book by its Cover

We said our good byes to Leigh & Layla as they took the taxi to Rome airport for their journey home to Australia but Rome had one more surprise for us before we left. From the bottom of the Spanish steps the magic sound of an operatic performance to a crowd of over 2000 people greeted us as we waited before leaving on the night train to Palermo, Sicily.

I can say the night train was not the Orient Express with just enough room for the two of us to fit in but once inside we settled in for the ride to the bottom of Italy. The interesting part was at 5.00am we awoke in time to see the train being moved from mainland Italy onto a ferry that would take us across the straights to Sicily. Remaining inside the train, the crossing proved to be smooth and the only time we saw water was when a crew member opened a large hatch on the ferry revealing we were under way.

We changed trains at Messina, where we got on the wrong train which took 4 hours to get to Palermo, but that's another story. Our initial thoughts as we travelled the coastal route, was that Sicily had natural beauty but seemed to be plagued with rubble and rubbish. Once in Palermo those initial thoughts were then confirmed. However our hotel - the Best Western Palermo - was situated in a lovely part of the city overlooking a park. After Steve briefed Del on the Mafia in Sicily she seemed a bit wary of some of the back streets but it soon proved to be completely unfounded as we set about exploring the city.

The fun of Palermo is getting into the narrow winding streets that house Pizzeria’s, restaurants, open market stalls and all manner of different small shops. Our opinion of Palermo quickly changed, yes it looked run down and there was rubbish lying around but this seemed to add to the essence of the place.

Those who know the Godfather movies will remember the final scenes of 3rd movie where Al Pacino is coming down the stairs of the opera house before his daughter is killed. Well, we took the tour of the opera house and it is an amazing place. The stage is huge,the largest in Italy and the decor inside is unbelievably plush in an Italian way. Del was afforded the opportunity to sit in the Royal box (always said she was a Princess), in the same seat that Pacino did in the movie,

The food in Palermo was excellent, from the pasta both gluten free and normal to brilliant steaks or scaloppini you could not ask for better. We found a fantastic restaurant suggested by the hotel that catered for Del’s needs, with a shrug of the shoulders and a "no problem". Delicious meals were served. All throughout Sicily the one thing that stood out was the relaxed way to enjoy your meal, the service was efficient and relaxed, inviting you to take your time to enjoy the experience.

The old saying never judge a book by its cover certainly pertains to Palermo and Sicily. Untouched with so much to see, natural beauty abounds with a wide variety of sites such as beach resort towns that would pulsate in summer, Greek ruins to match the Parthenon in Athens, Volcanoes towering 3000+ meters into the sky, food and drink to meet your needs, the chaotic driving in the towns and the unhurried & friendly manner of the people. If they ever decide to promote themselves Sicily has plenty to offer.
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