Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Canadians Do It Well

Being away makes me think about what Canada and Canadians do well. Beer. We do good beer. Potatoes, clean washrooms with toilet paper. Clean generally. Botanical gardens - that we get from the British heritage I'm sure. Disabled access we do well. I'll never forget the train stations in Sicily that had 'disabled access' which meant a stairwell with a lift. The lift being locked with a rusty chain and padlock.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rome to Whitehorse

I've done it! Made it back to work and completed a whole day a mere $#@$# hours after leaving Rome. I think I'm going to go lie down now.

What do Canadians do well? Clean. We do clean.

Monday, May 18, 2009

First Class Pods

This last flight we were accomodated in the newest first class innovation; the pod. Lord only knows what ungainly moniker the airline has attached to these types of seats. If you watched Quantum of Solace (latest James Bond adventure) you would have seen them, they fold out flat and look like little personalized space capsules. photos later.

The cutest part was that we couldn't be seated next to each other due to the seating design, so I visited Chris regularly. One of the other passengers thought we were on our honeymoon! :-)

Toronto Maple Leaf Lounge

I must say that first class travel agrees with me. We remain confused by the whole customs process which seemed designed to wear us down rather than clear us for acceptance on Canadian soil. Some how the airport authorities haven't grasped the fact that folks arriving on international flights are unlikely to have a twoonie handy to PAY FOR the luggage carts. An enterprising couple who did have a cart created a sort of train with her pushing his wheel chair and him pushing the luggage cart (obviously either very forward thinking or domestic travellers with the requisite twoonie).

The vast white halls of this airport still disoritent me, if not for teh enormous herd of people I would likely have missed the exit and wandered aimlessly in the white featureless expanse until subdued by taser...

Sunday, May 17, 2009


The only nice thing about packing is the pleasant surprise if finding enough Euros for a nice last meal in Rome. Send us prayers for sanity and luck (to get it all in the bags).

Tomorrow the airport.... at 5am... Luciano the taxi driver has been contacted...

Saturday, May 16, 2009


The night train was a bit of a schmozzle. I hadn't realized a few things when I booked, like the fact that the train didn't terminate in Rome Termini and that the 2 person compartment would be 2 coffins stacked and there'd be no baggage slot, let alone car.

I have begun to realize that as the folks here say; 'not possible' is rather a state of being at times. Little sleep was had, but despite this we arrived safely in Rome, found Termini, found our hostel, ran into a fellow tourist we'd seen in Sicily a few times, saw Ostia Antica, ate lunch, drank coffee and watched people.

Tomorrow, who knows?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Internet issues

We are still alive, just can't find internet. Things are fine, I'll try and post again before we leave Italy.

Events: Syracusa, lovely. Met up with Maria and Elleo had a lovely time.
Modica also lovely enjoyed walking the town that is set into a steep valley. Many stairs.

Tomorrow back on the train headed for Rome. We will be staying at the Funny Palace in Rome for 2 nights then flying back to Canada.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Faschist Fish!

We had a wonderful 5 hour tour around Ustica Island yesterday. Our guide took us to all the grottoes and pointed out areas of interest. He was obviously very sad we could not learn all about the fabulous island he loves as we have no Italian and even less Sicilian.

After circumnavigating the island we fished in three small coves. I was satisfied with the one fish I caught in the first hour, as was Chris. but this was not good enough! We must have more fish, or at least use up the bait. After sitting off the mouth of the port for what felt like 2 hours we finally succeed in using up the bait and had amassed a small number of fish in our bucket. We were all exhausted by the effort. And the 2 Canadians were a little crispy. Gentle Readers, do not think it was not a good time, it was. It was also just a trifle long. Afterwards we fell exhausted into a nap that was terminated by outrageous ringing from the Salvador Dali decorated church just outside our balcony. We still have no idea what the purpose of the celebration was, but bells were required.

Today Chris will work while I circumnaviate the island by bike. All 12km of it... A major effort is required. Perhaps even a mountain will be scaled, or a swim in the Azure waters....

Other notable events of the day? Chris had his hair cut. I would learn to slow down to this breakneck pace eventually I am sure.

I almost forgot about the cat man of the port. When we were waiting for our guide to procure rod and reel we watched the fishermen futz with their nets. One in particular had the avid attention of untold pairs of cat eyes. We could not understand it as other cats in town seemed quite skittish. Then of course we grasped the meaning - he likes cats and feeds them pieces of fish from his net. When I saw him in town later I was surprised to see no cats following him. I had expected a pied piper of ustica situation but with cats instead of rats....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ustica Hotel Clelia

I am very happy that we opted for the half board option. That means breakfast and super are included with the room. The cook is not skinny and her cooking is just fabulous. I have never trusted skinny cooks, only the plump ones are any good at what they do! The cook is the same woman who helped arrange our fishing excursion for this morning and she helped us order last eve. she put together a special plate of mixed starters. Then I opted for the fish egg pasta (fabulous), Chris had the shrimp pasta (also fabulous) and we shared a second of jumbo shrimp grilled to perfection. They were so good I got goose bumps.

this little town on Ustica is just our speed = slow. Thank God there are less of those slow food snails here though, as they were really starting to freak me out. they are on EVERYTHING!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

End of the Cycling Tour

The posts are a bit out of order as internet connections are sporadic. A quick post about our cycling Italian Angels Angelo and James . Our final day of cycling was a very long one made longer by poor directions from our tour company.

Suffice to say if we had not been <> by the angels of Italian cycling we would be dried crusty things on the side of the road somewhere between Tri Fontana and Selinute. All day we had trouble, getting lost a number of times, and we were lost again when this pack of cyclists slowed down to chat with us. Very quickly they discovered we were lost and took it upon themselves to guide us to our destination. Two of the pack volunteered to be our Angels, although truth be told, we did not have much choice as they quickly guided us along country roads not on our maps. As they put it, 20k this way or that, it is ok. Their skill at keeping us in line and all the drivers away was something else. A quick whistle and hand wave from Angelo was all it seemed to take and those cars slowed right down.

I will post photos of the crank brothers (as I have dubbed them) when I get a chance.


Today we travelled from the port of Palermo to the island of Ustica. The port is something else, passenger ferries, container ships and cruise lines all docked together. Finding the little ferry to Ustica took a lot of asking around. As did buying the tickets. You can get coffee, breakfast, fresh oranges, but no ferry tickets at the port. The tickets are purchased at the office 4 blocks away. I acquired some new bruises and scrapes on my legs as I made a mad dash assisted by my bicycle through the morning traffic.

The ferry ride was peaceful and uneventful. Our arrival was a bit fraught as we tried to wait until all the traffic had left the so called ferry terminal which was actually only a worn concrete ramp into the sea.

The helpful port police (Chris thinks they were finance police) at the top of the ramp directed us towards the nameless town. We managed to find our lovely little hotel without too much asking around. The streets here are not paved with ashphalt, but rather with the local volcanic stone set in patterns that are a bit hard on the cyclist butt.

We cycled around a bit and saw some lovely scenery and a few fixer upper sorts of homes. On our return to the hotel we think we arranged to go for a guided fishing trip tomorrow... more on that after we do it.