A Travellerspoint blog

Walking Lots Day 23

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Think I can officially say we have over used this day. We started just after 9 traipsed till 2 then had a rest & went out again till 7.
The day began with a plan to see the Capuchin Catacombs situated about 2.5 k's from here . We probably should have taken a taxi or at the very least a bus or horse & buggy but apparently we have something to prove. So yep we walked.. It was interesting as all the shops are open at this time of the morning.
It cost us €3.00 each for me to be totally traumatised. I remember going to The Capuchini Bone Chapel in Rome with Richard & Bill I should have recalled the trauma I felt then & similarly through the Sewers of Paris but no got it in my head & we were going. This place is way way worse . Worse than Evora in Portugal with just a couple of bodies hanging dedicated amongst the bones.
This my friends was rows upon rows of bodies .They date back to the first being a monk in 1599 & the last around 1920. The place is divided into sections . Priests , men , women, children, professionals. Some are hanging by their necks & others lying on concrete slabs oh & some coffins. Wait for it 8000 of them.
The eerie thing is that the bodies are desiccated but the clothes have remained in tact. Interesting to see genuine garments from all these centuries ago.
Now to really make everyone feel "creeped out" the methods used to preserve the bodies were either dipping the bodies in arsenic or lime which was generally done when there had been epidemics or the other most common one ( now this is the creepy one ) to desiccate the bodies was placing them in cells situated along passage ways . These cells were called strainers. Now I said it was creepy! Oops forgot to say they were hung upside down.
Following this light entertainment we had a real Sicilian lunch with some workers in one of the side alleys . Great food actually "
The weather wasn't the kindest today so we were dodging the odd shower ...we did find the extremely old Norman / Arabic castle ...in ruins but very interesting history .
The rain continued not really heavy but drizzle so we found yet another church but this proved to be some find .
We have been to many European Countries & seen lots of their spectacular churches & cathedrals but perhaps this was the most ornate & astonishing of them all. Huge seriously large but not a cathedral ,Called commonly in Palermo Casa Professa the Chiesa del Gesu. One of the most important holy places in Sicily & an absolute master piece in Baroque art. I won't go on & on but surfice to say we spent I think nearly 2 hours in it . Going from the actual church & it's numerous chapels to the museum & creepy crypt. There were not many centimetres of that interior not covered ,embellished & whatever else I could use to describe it .
Ok so we finally returned to our hotel for the habitual rest & recovery time then off again around five . We were searching for a shirt for Bill but didn't see anything we really liked. Dinner we decided was going to be gelati well I decided & Bill went along with the idea. The problem is we are far too tired to wait around till 7.30 / 8pm for the restaurants to open.
Think we will enjoy breakfast on the terrace before we head off tomorrow for Taomina. We apparently have to catch a bus to Cantania then another one to Taomina think it could be about 4 hour trip all up.
Pretty sure this will be amazing remembering years ago when Sarah ( Zkye's sister) backpacked through Greece & Italy .
I remember her calling us from a phone box in Taomina saying that the men were hissing at her. Apparently that is what they do instead of whistling to pretty girls. She said it continued all through Sicily . There are a lot of men hanging around all the streets so for young girls it would be confronting.
That's it tonight folks I intend to sleep no staying awake for bloody hours.

Hi there, you there me here! It was interesting entering this establishment for again there was a glass floor, covering and protecting an old fine marble patterned floor. Deb's phobias arose again meaning I had to hold her hand and coach her passed this obstacle. Done.
After the umpteenth clad skeleton, another phobia started it's development. Boy! It was proving fun in the tease stakes, I had to hold back the usual quips for I'm sure she would have ended up a gibbering wreck. It was very entertaining. Bye!

Posted by Billdeb 11:46 Comments (0)

Walking Lots Day 22

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Walking lots is definitely appropriate for what we do in a day. We spent 7 hrs walking today with a couple of hours break in the middle of the day. So if this comes out sounding exhausted then there has been good reason.
The day started with breakfast on the terrace of our hotel. This terrace has a fantastic few of the city of Palermo included the roofs of at least 17 churches. Think there are a lot more but they were the ones we could pick out.
Originally we thought we would book a walking tour but after studying the map decided we could see everything ourselves. It only really needed Bill to get into gear with his orienteering & we would be just fine.
Off we went we fell into the most stunning piazza after piazza ,churches , cathedral which was a little mind blowing .
I think perhaps the most impressive building of all is Teatro Massimo the stunning Opera House of Palermo. Funny when we were walking up to it Bill pointed out a very expensive Mercedes as we approached a guy got out of the back seat& started taking photos . Bills comment was " wow that's an expensive tour bus " I must have said something & the guy answered me with a broad Aussie accent. I asked him if he'd come back to his roots & he said nup I'm from Malta . It was all damn funny at the time .
Lots more walking then we wandered upon one of the markets...now these are something else but renown for pickpockets & bag snatchers....I didn't have anything just my phone in my jeans pocket. Bill is very careful in these places with money & cards in money belt against his body...only thing he carries is a little money & a knife . Of course ! So we were safe to enter the market. Fascinating .... Every imaginable fruit ,vegetable , meat, cheeses ,fish store after store . Went on for maybe a kilometre .There are two of these markets within a couple of k's of each other. Capo & Ballaro.
We did finally have lunch in a cafe in this market area...good food no wine for me just beer for Bill.
Lunch finished we figured that maybe we should head back to our hotel & a rest after 5 hours of walking . I was rather glad I admit. Well short lived we rested for I guess 2 hours then headed back out for another two hours walking down to the port / marina area. Bill did get some great photos of yachts & lots more.
By 6.30 we were starting to tire again so clever Bill negotiated our way back to the hotel.
I think it should be said that walking on the streets in these places is not as straight forward as you would think . There are obstacles everywhere to trap tourists . Cars are parked wherever people want scooters go absolutely anywhere . The streets are narrow & pedestrian crossings mean nothing. It's all about timing & lots of horn blowing.
My final comment on to day ...Palermo is dirty ,squalid ,unkempt but Bill & I have adored the experience. Ciao all

Posted by Billdeb 11:03 Comments (1)

Walking Lots Day 21

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Still on Day 20 & Bari....we did as mentioned in previous page of day 20 a really lovely days interesting walk etc etc but deteriorated into the place from hell. Ok so it's Saturday night & we are in the centre of a city but it sounded as though a war was taking place out on the street. The usual car tyres screeching , howling ,backfiring then screaming , yelling etc etc but to top it off fire crackers not the nice pretty fireworks we had on the Amalfi Coast to celebrate someone's wedding. No no these were angry vicious loud gun sounding crackers. Perhaps it was guns in that town!
There are a lot of men in these Southern Italian towns just wandering or sitting so I figured it was a lot of the young ones . Many , many coloured men just hanging around & hostile . Couldn't figure it out to start with but there are constant illegal immigrants coming to the south making dangerous journeys from Nigeria & Tunisia . They are apparently employed by The Mafia & abused & cheated by them . Consequently there has been a great deal of unrest & many many unhappy & hostile people.
World over population showing its sad ugly face.
Getting back to my night it was terrible but Bill slept through most of it . I continued reading The Leopard .

So now to day 21 flying to Palermo easy trip to airport by shuttle about 20 k's I think . We were early so had a longish wait but that wait finished up even longer because for whatever reason out flight was delayed almost an hour.
We finally arrived in Palermo about 5 & reached our hotel around 6 pm. First rain we have seen since we left Rome ....
We could have had dinner in the hotel but the restaurant didn't open till 7.30 so we wandered down the street found an interesting Sicilian Restaurant already open.
Menu was great Bill saw rump streak & decided he needed real meat instead of the pasta ,pasta , pizza , pizza , panini that seems to be the steady diet in many parts. Well, it was not the kind of rump Bill was anticipating more like a skinny slab of white veal.
I did however order scaloppine with preserved lemons & a lemon sauce . We had grilled vegetables on the side. Mine was what I thought & very nice.
Dessert , we were persuaded we had to try fortunately we only got one ....a large pasty affair filled with sweetened ricotta. Quite delicious but certainly big enough for two.
Think we will look in to a walking tour of Palermo .Its a large interesting but complex city & we want to get the most out of the two full days here. Ciao.

Posted by Billdeb 23:06 Comments (0)

Walking Lots days 19 & 20

Skipped yesterday's blog the trulli didn't have wifi so was just too hard . Sorry to those who were looking for it .
To tell the truth we should have only spent one perhaps 2 nights in Alberobello don't get me wrong it's interesting but limited.
May be repeating myself I think I may have been whinging but maybe that was to Anton , Sarah & Zkye ...you know the family thing.
We left Alberobello at 9.41 bound for Bari the capital city of Apulia. No dramas with the train straight through & arrived at 11.10 . Didn't need a taxi because according to the Google map it was a mere 700m from the train station. Yep & it was in the university area of the city.

The hotel is ok the reception spoke no English but that's to be expected. The room is large with painted ceiling of angels & cherubs ...very Italian of course .
We had a vague idea that there is an old area of Bari called Bari Vecchia the medieval section of the town. It's fascinating much like we have seen in other countries ....narrow winding streets lots of washing & lots of interesting sights & smells. We wandered for a while coming every so often to quite spectacular piazzas...finally choose one for a lunch of seafood / rice for Bill & veg lasagne for me .
We kept walking to the port the sun shining & us feeling particularly relaxed after a single glass of vino each with lunch.
The port has a variety of craft from luxury cruisers to fishing boats & of course the many ferries going to other parts of Italy & beyond. We are not far from the very big port of Brindisi .
The highlight of the day was a tour ( taken by ourselves ) of Castello Svevo on the edge of the brooding Bari Vecchia . The Normans originally built over the ruins of a Roman Fort. Fascinating place being gradually restored.
Well this has been a great interesting day . Tomorrow we are off to Sicily flying into Palermo. I have nearly finished reading The Leopard so am slightly equipped with the old history of this city. Ciao all x

Posted by Billdeb 08:25 Comments (0)

Walking Lots Day 18

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I hate trains ...public transport is not my idea of the way to travel but I have no choice I suppose at the moment. We had no idea of the times trains were leaving from Matera heading to Bari so figured if we got to the station by 9 am we shouldn't have to wait too long. We waited till 10.38 oh bugger . The platform was underground with a single line & very grotty & freezing cold . We stayed a little while but then decided to go back to sunshine. This of course meant Bill carrying the bags back up two flights of stairs. We travel very , very light but still with his shoulders it's not great.
The train duly arrived ....take a look at the photo we just laughed but at least it was a train. It took 1.30 hrs to perhaps 50ks approx . It literally chugged & blew its air whistle regularly . Bloody loud !!
We had been talking while waiting to a young couple ...interesting he was Mexican & she Japanese both spoke English & had met in Canada. They were heading to Barcelona he figured it was going to be easier as he spoke Spanish of course. They had already been to Alberobello so they knew the drill when we reached Bari Station . They showed us how to find the next private train line. Tricky tricky no signs but they had the knowledge from previous travellers. Ok found it got the tickets & waited . Not so long & oh my a real train. We knew it would take approx 1.5 hrs again & knew the names of a couple of the stations before our stop . Then alarm the conductor suddenly said at one station we had to change trains .That wasn't expected even by the locals so we all got off & walked across the train tracks . Dodgy stuff methinks. Remember we had to do that somewhere in Portugal once.
Ok back on the next train & three stops later we had arrived. Walked up the Main Street & found reception...we were then lead to our little trulli...very quaint in the oldest part of the town our trulli is apparently one of the oldest but totally renovated . These places date back some 400 years & were the homes of the peasants.
So much stone everywhere so you can understand why they use it .
On the downside I feel we could have left this place out. The trulli's are charming but that is about it . Over run with tourists / kids & lots & lots of crap souvenir shops ( in the dear little houses) .The souvenir sellers like so many places in the world are pushy & their stuff is rubbish & all the same.
There was a familiar ring to Lourdes years ago when we were there only things missing were Holy Water & religious trappings . Me cynical no never !
Kinda a shame that it took us all those hours to get here but you win some & you know the rest of that expression.
We did have a pleasant dinner sitting in a square for a couple of hours watching the people ( mainly men ) promenade . Bill has a theory that the mamas toss the men out of the houses for a few hours .
I must have been really tired I slept for 12 hrs . Boy now that has to be some kind of record for me . Ciao.

Posted by Billdeb 01:35 Comments (1)

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