This past weekend my friend from UNCG (Audrey) and I made our first official big trip. Unfortunately no other international students could come because they all had classes (luckily our classes don't start until Wednesday). After much debate we finally decided on SICILY! We left early Saturday morning… and that is where the adventure began.
FIRST we somehow took the wrong train and didn't realize until we were in Milan (Milan and the airport are on the complete opposite ends of the railway). Luckily there was a very nice train conductor who put us on the right train and didn't make us pay more for taking the wrong train. FINALLY we made it to the airport with literally 45 minutes until our flight took off. After running around the airport (which is HUGE) we made it to our gate with time to spare… slightly sweaty and disoriented, but with time to spare! After a 2 hour plane ride we were in SICILY, now all we had to do was get to our hostel. We were able to find the bus, but we weren't 100% which stop to get off of since the bus driver was screaming the stops (nope no microphone) and he spoke Italian! We got to a stop which I thought could be ours so I asked the kind gentleman behind me if this was it (showing him my paper with the bus stop written out on it) and he told us nope this wasn't it. So we continued and I deiced to ask the kind lady beside me, again showing her the paper, but she frantically started pointing behind me… yep that is right we were at the wrong bus stop, in a city we knew nothing about, and no one around us spoke English. But don't get worried yet, we just asked 8 different people (literally) and FOUND THE HOSTEL!!!! Our hostel was very cute and very cozy. Audrey and I had our own room (yay!) and the owner was super helpful. She gave us a map and told us where to go!
After a very stressful beginning we were finally able to go play tourist and explore Palermo. We were able to see a ton of sights in the few hours we had there. We saw (look at the pictures when you get a chance and I will explain what all the sights are!) Teatro Massimo, a market, the Cattedrale (that is how it was spelled on the map!), the Teatro Bellini, Piano del Palazzo (a park), Piazza del Parlamento, S. Domenico, and the Quatro Canti (the 4 corners).
Sunday started out a little easier than Saturday did. We decided to go to the mountains (a city called Monreale) and to the beach (a city called Mondello). We went to Monreale first and when you get to the top you could see all of Palermo. Now Monreale isn't like the tip top of a mountain, it is more like a really tall hill, but you can see everything! It was an amazing sight! There was a big church there (of course) but it was closed because it was Sunday and they were holding mass (of course!), so we walked through what we thought was going to be this amazing garden, but it wasn't much. While we were waiting for the bus to come pick us up, we decided to indulge in none other than our first cannoli! YUMMMM and was it amazing! Now back in Palermo we decided to go for a traditional Sicilian lunch, one consisting of arancini (deep-fried rice balls) pasta, and something else (I can't remember the name). It was delicious, but veryyy filling from all the starch! Afterwards we headed to Mondello to see the fantastic coast line. From the moment we stepped off the bus in Mondello it started to rain, so we went and bought umbrellas from the crazy street men and right when we bought them the clouds opened up and it STOPPED raining… go figure. Next thing we knew we looked up and there was a beautiful rainbow over the ocean! There wasn't much in Mondello, so we went and got some Gelato and just took in the view of the coast line. After gelato we headed back to the bus stop and ended up waiting for about 45 minutes in the rain (yes it started raining again) for the bus. Finally we were happily in Palermo. We went for an aptertivo (happy hour in Italy!), dinner and bed!
When Monday rolled around we knew we were only going to one place… Agrigento. This is where the Valley of Temples lies and it is a 2 hour bus ride from Palermo. The Valley of Temples consists of temples and old city walls from the ancient Greek city of Akragas. Some temples date back to 480 BC. Crazy right?!? We took the audio tour (TOURIST) so we actually knew what we were looking at and man am I glad we did that (I explain them in the pictures!). After waiting AGAIN for the bus… this time about 2 hours again in the rain we were back in Palermo and we called it a trip! Although this was a very stressful trip of getting lost and turned around, it was well worth every moment. The sights we were able to see can't be explained through words or pictures… Sicily is truly a beautiful island (well the coast line, the actually city part was quiet disgusting ;o)