Almost a year ago, a trip was made to Sicily by myself and a few friends.. it was April 2013, and the constant rain was only just beginning to subside in London...
With our flight at 7.20am from London Gatwick's North Terminal, and check-in at 5.30am, we took a quick 3 hour nap before loading up the car and setting off for the airport at around 4am.
On the way to our purchased airport parking, one of the headlights on Yop Yop blew. As we had some time once we'd arrived at the car park, we tried to change it with a little help from one of the car park assistants. We'd later come back from Sicily to find that he'd linked it up all wrong :P
Eventually, we piled into the shuttle bus to the airport, stopping at South Terminal first, before heading over to the North Terminal where we would be checking in. Once we were all checked in, we brought out the pre-prepared breakfast and wolfed it down :p
|Homemade chicken and sweetcorn sandwich!|
|Flew with EasyJet...|
|Sunny skies above Italy!|
Once we'd landed and gone through immigration, our Sicily trip began with our first difficulty; working out how to get to our hotel with none of us speaking Italian, and none of the Italians we encountered speaking any English...
After standing at the bus stop for about 10 minutes wondering which bus to get on, we noticed that most passengers already had their bus tickets prior to boarding. With the idea that we should be able to purchase tickets from a ticket office, Kin and I went back into the airport to find more information. We were pointed back and forth before we were told that we could purchase our bus tickets from one of the newsagent type stands in the airport. When we eventually found it, we asked the girl behind the counter which bus we would have to take in order to get to our hotel. She circled a few bus routes and a station name, before telling us the price and continuing to play on her iPhone.
Eventually we made it onto the bus; much smaller than expected, with all of about 7 seats in total.. We stood the rest of the way to our stop, trying to stop our luggage from rolling away from us on every turn.
Once we were off the bus, we had roughly a 10 minute walk down one long road before turning off for our hotel. We only knew the name of the hotel and the name of the street. We had no idea which turning, which meant it took quite a while to find our hotel.
Finally, we made it! We buzzed at the entrance and waited a few seconds before the door made a light 'buzz' sound and we could enter the building. Upon entrance, we were faced with an interesting looking lift, which we proceeded to board in twos and ascend to the Reception desk!
|Patiently awaiting Wilson and Jo :P|
|This reminded me of Valencia so much!|
After a quick change of clothes, we made our way down to explore locally...
|First gelato in Sicily!|
We found a man who went barefoot into the fountains to pick up the coins!!
We also found the old theatre; aptly named Odeon :P
I loved exploring the more hidden and run-down parts of the city. To be honest, most of Sicily looked quite old in general, but walking down quieter streets let us really experience how the locals saw things every day - not merely being faced with beautiful tourist spots.
|The difference between the town centre and a side road...|
|This was for Mum :P|
As our trip was just after the horse meat scandal... it was only fair for us to laugh at genuine horse meat menus and to take photos :P
|Old versus new (featuring peeking Etna!)|
After walking around town in the heat and taking far too many photos of exactly the same thing, we were hungry and tired - we'd been running for almost 9 hours on the sandwich we'd had at the airport, and a scoop of gelato each (I may have had two :D)..
So when we found a McDonald's...
I was so excited.. I love going to the McDonald's in other countries - all the other countries always seem to have an exclusive burger or something else that we don't have here. I always feel like the McDonald's in England are boring.. or maybe there's just nothing that takes my fancy over here.
When we first walked in, it just looked like a McCafe, and we were a little disappointed (I say we.. it was most definitely me..) before we discovered the huge, two floor McDonald's restaurant inside!
Anyway, the prices were extortionate for a McDonald's meal! €6.90! We even decided to pay more to try out their potato fritters... which were awful. It was like stale pieces of potato cardboard that had been left out for a week... which was so disappointing because I've never had potato fritters at McDonald's before!! Because of the price, we went for as-much-food-that-will-fill-you-till-dinner-for-the-least-possible-price.
I ended up with a burger that claimed to contain bacon...
Okay, okay, so there was bacon. But hardly what you'd expect to find in a burger that cost you about €4! The chicken piece was also so small, I tried to layer it up with the cardboard potatoes 1) so I wouldn't waste them, and 2) to make it feel like I was getting what I paid for hahaha.
After our extremely late lunch at about 4/5pm, we made our way back to the hotel and took our first Sicilian nap! By the time we woke again, it was about 9/10pm and we were ravenous. We found a local restaurant and sat down for our first Sicilian dinner.
€50 for an amazingly delicious dinner between four... inexpensive when you consider the price of an Italian McDonald's meal! Plus, the calamari may have been €9, but worth every single penny (or cent). I still crave it now, and every time I have calamari, I end up comparing to the deliciousness that I was so lucky to have tasted in Sicily... ahhh, I miss it.
We then proceeded to have a casual night time stroll through town. Everything always looks different at night; sometimes strangely magical, and occasionally a little more sinister.
We discovered a gelato cafe just around the corner from our hotel!
With our makeshift Italian, we tried our best to let the owner know that we would be back the next day for gelato! We were way too full from dinner! "Domani, domani!" :D
It was a great first day in Sicily. Tiring, but totally worth it. We'd only been strolling locally, but had already discovered so many gems!
We planned to visit the local markets the next morning, and booked an evening excursion through our hotel receptionist to see Mount Etna, before retiring to our beds.
The post up for day 2 will be up next week! Thank you for reading :)
Disclaimer: The amazingly beautiful and professional shots featured in this blog post are not my own. They have been used with kind permission from Kin :) A few of my own photos do appear, but the majority do not belong to me.