Three Nights in Palermo

First, let me say that right now I’m having an absolutely wonderful time. I’m with great friends, the sun is shining, we are drinking Prosecco. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Yesterday, however, was a different experience. You know that old saying, “you ain’t seen nothing yet?” Well, that’s what came to mind when we arrived in Palermo. Remember the bad food in Ortigia? The 59 steps in Modica? The “terrifying” ride? Well, we got ‘em all in Palermo, and then some.

That scary ride I described in my last post? Well, yes, that road was indeed narrow and winding, but it wasn’t lined with trash cans, and there were no motorbikes, pedestrians or oncoming traffic on it. Palermo had all that — and more. I would still be recovering from PTSD if I’d been driving, or if Mike had been driving, one of us would probably have filed for divorce. But once again, Diane amazed us all with her calm, proficient driving.

It was MUCH worse than this. People were also flying by on scooters.

After driving down what WE would call alleys, but Italians call streets, we arrived at the “meeting point”. We succeeded in effectively blocking traffic, while we waited for Giovanni to find us. He then guided three of us (with our luggage) to the “bed and breakfast”, leaving Diane blocking traffic until he could return to guide her to a parking lot.

Entrance to Ad Hoc Rooms

Meanwhile, our three heroines were confronted with 59 steps (the exact number of steps as Modica—if my grandmother had been alive she would have called her bookie to “play” that number). Once again, I was grateful to the exercises classes at the Y, because we carried our own bags —and my two weigh about 27 pounds. But the best is yet to come. After our trek, we discovered that Sally and I were not only sharing a room, we were also sharing a bed. Fortunately king sized, but still.

I’ll confess, I was NOT happy. (Neither was Sally). For a brief period, I turned into the Ugly American, muttering, frowning and using my phone to search for alternative lodging. But the thought of carrying those bags DOWN 59 steps, and then someplace else gave us all pause.

My three traveling companions found solace in the cafe across the street, while I, knowing how drunk I would get on an empty stomach, dug into the cheese and salami we’d brought with us. Lo and behold, when I tried to join them, I discovered I couldn’t unlock the lobby’s front door. And I was alone. All alone.

The instructions SHOULD have read “push the button in the middle, wait till the light stops circling and forms an upside down horse shoe shape, grab the handle, then PULL.

After trying every single combo I could think of, except the correct one, I finally called Karen, who willingly walked up those 59 steps to rescue me. I owe her BIG time!

Our dinner that night could not be described as delicious, but the chef acknowledged the lack of culinary excellence by offering us free lemoncello. We ended a rather challenging day on a positive note, and after a good night’s sleep, everything seemed MUCH better!

Time for some photos of the GOOD stuff:

The main altar in the cathedral at Monreale

Mosaics along the walls visualize biblical stories. Check out Eve telling Adam to eat the apple so he’d get smarter, Adam and Eve modeling the latest fig leaf fashions, Abraham getting ready to kill his son and Rebecca at the well.
The view of Palermo from Monreale
The best seats in the house are, of course, in the “royal box”. We got a glimpse during our tour of Teatro Massimo, the third largest opera house in Europe.
This fountain was created in Florence and reassembled here in Palermo. Check out the expressions on the statues’ faces.

One full day left until we leave for Taormina.

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I am intensely curious, with a spirit of adventure that is tempered by my very strong aversion to anything with potential to cause pain. I love travel, photography, reading, gardening, yoga, music and propelling myself through space (biking, dancing, walking, dancing while walking). I've never considered a lack of proficiency in any of the previous activities to be a hindrance, counting on abundant enthusiasm to make up for my shortcomings.

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