Thursday, September 13, 2007

Holiday stories, part 1

I can't seem to formulate my thoughts on my Sicilian holiday very clearly, and I still haven't finished going through all the photos properly, nor hardly any of the video footage. So I'm just going to write a bunch of stuff as it comes to me, in no particular order, really. It's all such a beautiful whole in my brain that I feel unable to sort through it and dissect it.

That said, I will start with the initial bus ride from Catania airport to our hotel in Taormina. We really didn't have a clue where to find the buses, and I was all for just getting a taxi. When I'm in holiday mode, I'm like: "Fuck the expense, let's enjoy!" But Red said, "Let's see if we can find a bus first. They're €10 per person, while a cab will be about €80." I tease her that she's tight at times, but she is right: it's a big difference, and she's great at doing all that pre-holiday research that I suck so badly at.

We find the bus terminal, and we arrive about 7 or 8 minutes before the next bus is due. Tickets turn out to be only €5 each, so Red's decision is even more sensible than first thought. Can you believe that? €5 for a bus ride of more than an hour? So, so cheap!

We each have two suitcases, and we put the largest two in the hold and take our smaller bags with us on board the bus. The ride is great, though we don't have any pics or video because all that stuff was still packed and not easy to access. I love travelling to new places by bus or train because it gives you a chance to see the real landscape of a country -- the bits you don't see in the towns and seasides.

At one point, as we were going up what seemed like a steep hill, a couple of fast, zoomy, noisy motorbikes tore past us. "Sono pazzi, 'sti siciliani," Red said. I said, "You might want to try saying that a bit louder..." Aaaagghhh, you can't call Sicilians crazy when you're on a bus in Sicily! And if you do, it's probably best to do it in English! We're so used to bitching in Italian when we're here in England, that she completely forgot herself. Luckily, the bus was almost empty at this point!

As we got nearer to our destination, though, it filled up to standing room only. And among the passengers was a madman. There's always one, isn't there. Once he had found his spot he began to sing. And sing. And sing. And as more and more people begain to snigger and outright laugh, he just kept on going even louder! Lunatics. I hate 'em.

We arrive at a stop that we think might be ours, called Taormina-Giardini. We ask a fellow passenger. He says, no, that we should stay on board. We do, and he's right. But what a mental ride. Taormina sits halfway up the most circuitous, craziest, highest mountain road I think I've ever been on. Buses have to honk at many of the corners because they are too big to manoeuvre around them without crossing the central white line. I am not good with heights, and my hands are getting ever clammier. Thankfully, Red had taken the window seat...

As we go up and up and up and up (probably for about 8 or 9 minutes) we finally see our hotel (above; our room, it turns out, is the one just above the entrance door). It looks very nice from the outside. We get off at the next stop, which is the main Taormina terminal and walk back 5 minutes. At our hotel, the Hotel Villa Carlotta, we are greeted and given a tour of the grounds, during which time our bags are taken to our room. We are then given a tour of our room...

... which was set over two floors! I have only once before stayed in a hotel room of comparable size (the exquisite Visconti Suite at the Grand Hotel Et De Milan -- a work-related freebie for the missus!). Here, though, there were some amazing views out over the sea. And a widescreen LCD TV on each level. And a massive bed and a massive bathroom and a massive sitting room. And a wrought-iron spiral staircase between the floors. Breathtaking. It wasn't what we had in mind, but the guy giving us the tour tells us that they always upgrade all guests to "the best room available". And how! You, too, can tour the room by watching the video clip below!

I'm not sure what time it is, but it's late enough to have a quick sort out of our clothes etc and then head up into the town for a walk and a bite to eat, after sourcing recommended eateries at reception.

To be continued...

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Blogger Red said...

Yeah, I had forgotten about the madman. I think he was singing Roy Orbison's "Crying" in Italian. Certainly, he kept saying "Piangendo!" in an Adriano Celentano-style voice. Remember how we bumped into him again the following night in town?

14 September, 2007 10:39  
Blogger Karen said...

SOunds like a great start to your vacation. And interesting people like the singer on the bus are make times like that so memorable :) Interesting sound effects on the video (incredible room!)...what did you break?

14 September, 2007 12:44  
Blogger Milla said...

Ahahhahahahahaha!! The madman!! You are so right that there is always one!
And of course Red is ALWAYS right, about everything -haven't you learnt that yet?

I'm gald your bus ride was better than the ones we had.

14 September, 2007 13:25  
Blogger Sheamus the... said...

ahhhh yes...the video tour. Man I have wanted to do this for awhile now with some things to show you fellow bloggers. You have inspired. The volcanoe on video would be sweeeeeeeettttt.

14 September, 2007 13:30  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Red: How could you forget him, with his T-shirt saying University of Great Looks or whatever it was! I feel the same way about the insane as my mum does about the blind!

Karen: It was a cool start. Always weird, throwing yourself straight in with the locals, though, in a place you don't know... The sounds are all from a sound effects library, so I didn't have to break anything.

Milla: ALWAYS one! Red is quite often right, though I'd hesitate to say always... Yeah, our bus ride was all right really.

Shea: I'm intrigued as to what you mean about inspiring you. To do what, pray tell? I do have some volcano footage, but I've not looked at it yet, and I suspect it won't be very good (long zoom, no tripod, y'know). I'll probably post it at some point anyway, just for curiosity value.

14 September, 2007 13:40  
Blogger Avid Andy said...

that hotel sounds great. i'm jealous of your trip. you and red should come to the US since the dollar is worth nothing right now.

14 September, 2007 15:43  
Blogger Cynnie said...

I'm so going fucking going !..
I just hope between my crappy spanish ( as close as i can get to italian)..and my crappy english..I won't end up sleeping in a cardboard box with the madman ..

you guys do the neatest things!

14 September, 2007 16:16  
Blogger Milla said...

I've just watched the video: what a beautiful staircase!! Di ferro battuto, a chiocciola come piacciono a me! Bellissima.

14 September, 2007 17:22  
Blogger martinobhoy said...

Red is right. Always get a bus or a train from the airport (if it is available) rather than a taxi. More money to spend in the bars and restaurants later.

14 September, 2007 17:40  
Blogger martinobhoy said...

And just checked my own blog so thanks for the offer of a bigger version of the Etna picture. I've left contact details on my blog.

14 September, 2007 17:48  
Blogger furiousBall said...

I want to be on a bus with a crazy Sicilian singing man one day now. Now I have a goal.

14 September, 2007 20:28  
Blogger FOUR DINNERS said...

Room???? room???? You could fit several families of Somalians in there!!! - and would if it was in Hayes town.

Looks incredible.

Remind me never to upset Red. My daughters got a horse she'd rather like to keep intact.....

15 September, 2007 01:13  
Blogger Gardenia said...

What a great place, it looks like an apartment! I'm glad you guys had a holiday to remember - its sounding fabulous.

15 September, 2007 02:26  
Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

What a fucking awesome room! Unbelievable! I so want to go back to Italy now...

15 September, 2007 19:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy Cow that room is amazing! And the view is awesome. Looks like an excellent time!

15 September, 2007 22:51  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

I probably wouldn't have left the hotel room...I can get like that on holiday I loved it! What a beautiful surprise for you to have such a mansion at your fingertips. Two big tvs yummy!

I hate being trapped ona bus or plane with's so annoying. singing yuck!

Enjoyed this story very much...

16 September, 2007 21:48  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

wow... that hotel room DOES look incredible! and i think you're doing a wonderful job telling the tale of your travels...

now on to part 2 :)

17 September, 2007 16:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am having a pavlovian response to your holiday journal. Apparently your vacation is off to an exciting start!!! There is no way I would be able to figure out the bus system anywhere, I have a hard enough time figuring the systems here.

17 September, 2007 17:05  

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