Night Location: Taormina, Italy
A Muse of the Day: Amber has mastered the 'I'm really, really not interested' look. While it took multiple attempts from Gemma and Gareth to say no to a Thai massage, all it took was one look from Amber and the masseuse moved on.
The Hotel in Taormina is spectacular. Breakfast is served on a stunning roof top terrace with views up the mountain and down to the bay. It has had the best Italian breakfast spread that we have seen with beautiful attention to detail in tableware and napery. Sadly, Amber was unable to appreciate this fully as she has been struck down by the Maltese Dog (gastro type illness experienced by the troops in WWII while stationed in Malta). Coerced by her doctor she got dressed and semi-believed she would enjoy her day by the sea.
We set off back down the Main Street, once again admiring the shops as we passed by, to the cable car that would take us down to the beach below. There were four cable cars with seats around the edge, so we made a bee line to the first one for the view down the 700m drop. While on the cable car we got the advice from two British tourists that the Isola da Bella was a beautiful beach, however it had sharp pointy rocks and lots of pedlars. Their advice was to pretend that we were asleep as within 5 minute intervals you could expect to be approached to buy everything from towels to sunglasses to jewellery to Thai massages.
Alighting from the cable car we wound our way around the point and reached a staircase with a sign to Isola da Bella. Sadly, we started to descend the stairs realising that we would have to ascend them on our way back from the beach. Very soon rows and rows of umbrellas and sun lounges came into view, however, we were somewhat stunned when we saw that the price was 10 Euros per person. Deciding to make a day of it we set up camp and in retrospect we believe that the 40 Euros was a bargain!
The beach was indeed full of rocks and pedlars. Our sun lounges were in direct line with a jetty with two ladders down into the water so as to avoid stepping on too many rocks. Every now and then there would be a freak wave that would wash over the jetty and threaten the balance of tourists attempting to reach the ladder or the shore. Gemma was quite alarmed by this prospect but we timed it so that we reached the ladder safely. The water once in was perfect. The Italians had warned about a strong current but it was fairly insignificant compared to the beaches at home. Gem and Amber refused to touch the moss covered rocks while the boys took refuge on some big ones.
Amber spent the rest of the day sleeping on her sun lounge and staring away various pedlars who dared to approach. Gemma and David made the walk around to the Isola Bella where they had to walk across a short channel with very sharp death rocks that left bruises on the soles of their feet. The water there was warm and protected and at some point, the villa that was on the island would have been a beautiful place to live. It has since been turned into a museum. Gareth wisely swam to the island instead of walking across the death rocks however he did have to jump the rope that closed the aforementioned jetty. The closed jetty had been a particular point of interest for the afternoon as watching advanced in age sea goers try to climb over the rope on a slippery jetty that was being inundated with waves was quite amusing.
After at least six hours at the beach we made the slow ascent back up the 134 steps. The return journey on the cable car was unfortunate as it was hot, crowded, and Gemma made the mistake of travelling backwards and therefore by the top was incapacitated. After returning to the hotel, Amber retired to bed while Gemma, Gareth and David went out for pizza and giant arancini balls with the Sicilian locals. These were both consumed in the town square while sitting on the steps of the fountain. After dinner a stop was made for gelato, the third gelato of the day for Gareth.