Saturday, January 4, 2014

4th January – We meet a couple of Swiss walkers at Etna and our Airbnb hosts in Syracuse

We get a warm farewell from Nellie and Giuseppe. I manage to navigate my way out of his miniscule driveway with his assistance. Nellie can’t speak English but is astute enough to point to the trip advisor sign for Julie. We will write them a good review when we get home. Its tough times in the off season in Sicily at the moment. We head to Etna on a sunny day. The sharp winding roads are easy compared to navigating the narrow streets of some of the towns on the way.  Italian drivers are two paced. They are either crawling along as if siesta had already started, or going 180klm/hr with lights flashing and horns blowing for anyone unfortunate enough to be in the way. Speed limit signs appear to be only there for one’s amusement.

When we hit the snow we know we are getting close. We can drive to nearly 2000 mtrs and then a cable car takes you another 500 mtrs … about 1,000 mts short of the summit. We meet a Swiss couple with their walking sticks on the cable car. They had walked some of the lower craters the day before and were looking to walk closer to the summit today. We mentioned that we were going to Israel on this trip. The husband said he had spent 3 months on a kibbutz in the early 1980s…just like my sister Vivienne had done about the same time. We leave the Swiss couple to tackle the mountain, while we do a more modest walk and take photos and watch the tobogganing.  The good news is that I get to use the moon boots I bought in Ortesei again. Makes it worth all the effort of packing them.

Lucky  kept my Moon Boots ... will probably auction them off after this trip

The Italians can be heavy smokers....same for their mountains!

That's the ocean down there. One of the few places in the world where you can be skiing
and then swimming in the ocean only an hour or so apart.

We now head down the mountain toward Catania.  We are still working out which navigation medium to trust. The GPS visual guides seem the best. The voice prompts are often wrong (like having a back seat driver with no sense of direction). Italian signs are still a mystery, with many signs having a two way bet by being placed diagonally. The other thing about Italian signs is the “All roads lead to Rome” effect. The way this works is that you may find two signs both labelled Rome, but pointing in opposite directions. They are both right, it’s just that one way is 20klms and the other way is 200 klms. We seemed to be suffering this effect with signs to Catania. We decide to follow the GPS visual cues and only have to make 2 u-turns on the way.

We arrive at our Syracuse place in plenty of time. Our airbnb host is an American woman Linda, who is married to a Sicilian, Bruno. Its novel to have a native English speaking host in Italy. It sound like she may have been missing some native English conversation as well as she gives us about two weeks worth in 30 minutes. We learn about complaining American and British tourists, easy going Aussie and Canadians; the Sicilian real estate market; lazy Sicilian men who are spoilt by their mamas; the mad French guys that went swimming in winter and now want to buy a place here; the German woman up the road who is trying to steal her husband…she can have him she says; not to mention a few recommendations for restaurants and pizza and some places to visit. We go for the pizza.

Promenading at the sea only a couple of hours after tramping in snow.

Social Network Update

New connections

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