Rejoice, for I have safely returned from Sicily. My first solo holidaying adventure, and the furthest away I've ever been from the UK. It was awesome, though, I loved it. Sicily's not a holiday destination that I'd normally choose – I have some perverse part of my brain (well, several such parts come to think of it) that wants to only go to cold places, but I was really glad to get out of my comfort zone and do something a bit different. I went to the weird microclimate that was Etna:

I ate a lot of food, trying to go for choices that were as Sicilian as possible (OK I admit I also had chips a couple of times, but I couldn't go out for a meal EVERY night because even a mighty global company like HobbitInc has finite monetary resources). I had pasta alla norma twice, cannoli two or three times, caponata twice, granita once (despite my efforts to find more at the airport as I left), and of course plenty of local wine. Rude not to. Now I only want to ever cook Sicilian things.

I also fulfilled one of my goals in life – no, nothing normal like marriage or spiritual enlightenment, but rather to see where the Godfather was filmed (well, parts of the trilogy). And I did, up in Savoca near Taormina. I had my first granita sitting just metres away from where Michael Corleone and his two mates sit talking about Apollonia. To be honest, a lot of the places I saw, I wouldn't have immediately recognised as scenes from the Godfather, but now I've looked over various scenes from the films, I've been getting a sense of 'Ooooh yeah, I saw that in person!'

I managed to do a reasonable amount of travelling round eastern Sicily. I stayed in Catania the whole time, which kind of grew on me. I'd heard very mixed reports about both Catania and Palermo, with one person online describing them as 'gritty', but I thought 'Well, I lived in Sheffield for three years, so bring it, Catania'. I didn't think it was gritty. The outskirts weren't hugely picturesque but also not ugly, and I was maybe half an hour's walk north of the city centre. There was a very nice bit right by the sea with various restaurants and a small colony of cats that was lovely to visit in the evenings. Yeah, I developed some affection for Catania.
I also went to Taormina, once just as a stop-off on my way to Savoca and other mountain villages, and once to take more of a look around. It was far more touristy than Catania, but that wasn't such a huge problem. I think both tourist and heat-wise, I chose a very good time to go (it averaged about 23 degrees, and I know you're thinking 'O Katie you're pathetic for thinking that's too warm', but it really felt much hotter). A lot of people I met said I should go to Siracusa, so on a whim on Monday I hopped on a train for an hour and a half, and there I was. I visited Ortygia in the south of the city and had my first proper Sicilian pizza, but had left it too late to have a proper look at the ampitheatre (although the huge blisters on my feet are evidence of my efforts to get there before my train back to Catania left without me).

So all in all, a fantastic trip. It didn't all work out as I'd planned with a couple of the tours, but that was fine, I didn't stay inside weeping, I went out and did stuff instead. It's weird, when I lived in Germany I was really scared of just going to a cafe or restaurant on my own and not caring if people judged me for it or if I made a mistake in speaking German, but in Sicily I felt way more confident. Not sure whether it's my great age or the tonnes of propranolol I'm taking, but it was quite a relaxed holiday in many ways. I'd like to do it again, both solo holidaying and going to Sicily. I'm not sure whether I'd go for staying in Catania again or going for a more touristy place like Siracusa or Taormina, but I think I'd have a good time either way. The only slightly bad/uncomfortable thing was the first day when I was a) wearing a dress and b) slightly lost and stumbling into a bit of a dodgy area, and I got a lot of comments from men as I passed them. It wasn't enough to frighten me but did make me uncomfortable. After I stuck to wearing trousers and avoiding certain bits of the city, things settled down.
I think if I went again, I'd quite like to take a daytrip to Malta (it's only four hours by boat) and also visit the military museum in Catania (annoyingly, I only realised it existed on my last night so it was too late). That said, I think I fitted a LOT in to the holiday. Today's been mostly trying to get everything in order. I'm off to merry Glasgow tomorrow to see Christy Moore in concert (another life goal). I'm trying to re-adapt to British weather. Honestly, in Sicily I forgot what it was like to feel cold. I did kind of miss British weather, because I'm critically insane.

So look, those are the new limits of my world – the furthest I've been in each direction. It doesn't look like much, set out like that. I've got this desire to keep extending them every time I travel (possibly northwards, as I've wanted to go to Iceland and Greenland for literally forever. Oh and east too because Finland. Oh and also Mongolia. I want to go to far too many places, especially for somebody so attached to staying in one place). At this rate, HobbitInc will go fully mobile.

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