Lunchtime ferry from Malta to Sicily, arrival in dark
Supermarkets, 10c for 1.5 litres of water, less than a euro for a box of wine and a quite frankly ridiculous number of packets of fresh pasta which of course I had to try.
Super narrow grid of alternating one-way streets.
Rode out-of-town and found a church. The lights were on but when I knocked on the door there was no answer. I cooked up pasta and slept behind the church, without using my tent.
Frequent orange groves – free food, and fields of artichokes
Argument with one driver who tried to run me off the road
Could see Etna as I rode along
Mid-January riding without my top – funny looks and waves of support
Got to Siracusa
Siracusa, morning walk with my English host, she went to work in the afternoon (English teacher, own world tour starting soon), I spent the day working out how my new phone (ordered on Amazon) worked. Then got to wipe it the next day as the router at her place had a virus that infected my phone.
Rode to Catania
Coastline north of Siracusa mainly industry
Mountains of rubbish along the roads,
American CS host
Wandered around the city with friends
One bar has it’s own underground stream
Roman ruins in the middle of town
Streets busy with people walking around well past 11pm
Up the coast to beautiful town of Taormina
Crazy steep roads, with hail and getting to freeze
Set off late
‘Shortcut’ down a dirt road
Clay farmers field and sodden socks due to flooding
Questioning my stupidity for taking the shortcut
Back on paved road, no gutter, so climb into town had the water streaming down the road
Went into a supermarket, fun conversation with the cashier. Do you want a bag? No thank you. Do you want a bag? no. Do you want a bag, NO. I then walked away and a customer said to the cashier “Aren’t you going to give him a bag?”
Sat down to route plan on latop &phone
Lady in 40s asked if I spoke Italian, I said no I’m English. She asked me to open her bottle of water, gesturing so I’d understand and then sat down again
5 minutes later, comes up, puts 2x€2 + €1 coins in my hand while cupping my cheek and wishes me a good trip
Largest man-made lake in Sicily take picture, half of lens cover won’t shut again
Agira/Nicosia – Sicilian fascination with towns on top of hills
Can I get some water? Not advisable, go to town 4km away, I’m going the other way…. wait… 2L of water (had 18 bottles in boot)
Climb, up to snow, gorgeous views back to Etna
No food, thumbed down grocery van coming other way, got 4 bananas 1 orange + 1 apple, asked how much, didn’t understnad, gave him a euro, he seemed confused and drove off
Down other side in dark, first town Mictretta had fireworks for the festival of San Sebastian. Main square jammed with people, figured it was too many to ask considering language barrier (would probably just lead to at best short conversations and then they’d get on with night)
Next town of Reitano, small grocery store, they asked if I needed help, I said I was probably OK then bought a litre of milk and asked about camping in Spanish to 3 ladies (Rosa, Santini + ?). A bit of faffing around and a phone call lead to ‘Sindaco sindaco’ Salvatore being called, key didn’t work but buildng opposite municipality windows were open so told me to jump in and they helped me put bike through window. Salvatore asked about food, I said sure, went back to supermarket (next door) and Rosa & Santini still there, 2 foot long loaf of bread filled with 3 cans of tuna given to me and paid by Salvatore who told me he was El Capo, and Santina again mentioned Sindaco – turns out it means mayor. He then asked me how long I was planning on staying, I said just until the next morning and I’d head off around 8am
7:15 wakeup for espresso, softest pannetone ever – like eating a cloud, guided out of city
First nap of trip
Arrival in Palermo, ridiculous traffic especially heading out of the city.
Situation with host, a little awkward. He was in the midst of a divorce, and so I got the room where he would normally stay while he slept in the same room as his daughter.
Language barrier, got me some French practice
Host told me that Sicily is not Europe, it’s Africa. Sardinia is isolated and neither
Ended up with a different host, on Couchsurfing, which lead to disturbing conversations about how Italians basically use Couchsurfing to hook up as relationships with Italian women go too slowly
Met some Italians who I spoke to about how I’m lucky being a guy as I avoid most of the problems of travelling, was told some things that I found offensively ridiculous and chauvinistic such as most women have no problems when they travel because they’re mainly ugly and only beautiful women get sexually assaulted. Maddeningly stupid.