Category Archives: Palermo

Travel Diary 27/5/16

I’ve managed to get down to a week between posts. Quite the feat. Last time I posted, I was unwinding in Palermo…

Day 51
Over breakfast at the hostel, I met a delightful German girl, and we decided to check out the Palermo Catacombs. It is beyond creepy. It’s a small catacomb, but the walls are lined with skeletons, in their funeral finery, some still having skin attached… And many of them are held upright, as though standing there. There is also the fully preserved body of a dead toddler from the 1920s. A very, very creepy place.

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Fontana Pretoria, Palermo

We walked past Palermo Cathedral, which is a very impressive and beautiful building, but like I mentioned before, church fatigue has well and truly set in at this point, so I didn’t go inside. We wandered around for a while longer, we looked at a few other churches and palaces and the like, without going in, before heading towards Mondello and the beach, where we spent the afternoon.

Day 52
Another travel day. Unlike in Naples, the owners of this hostel didn’t want me hanging around after checkout, so I took one last walk through the streets of Palermo. Then I hopped on another overnight ferry, this one much more comfortable than the last.

Day 53
From where my ship docked at Civitavecchia, I caught the train back to Rome, before travelling on to Bologna. I wish I’d had more time in Bologna, it seemed a very nice place. I took in the main sights, including another cathedral, but the primary reason I was in Bologna was to taste a traditional ‘bolognese’ sauce, which is actually a meat ragu, served with tagliatelle or tortellini. It was fantastic, although I’m sure I’ve tasted similar at home.

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Another cathedral. This one's pink.

Day 54
Today I took another train, this time to one of my must-see cities. Venice. I arrived in the afternoon, and settled in, uploaded some photos and cooked enough food to get me through a couple of nights. Venice is EXPENSIVE. Worse than Paris or London.

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The view that drew the eponymous sighs from prisoners on the Bridge of Sighs.

Day 55
A major sightseeing day today, I went to the Doge’s Palace, which I would honestly say is actually nicer than Versailles. Entry to the Doge’s Palace grants you entry to three other nearby museums. Well, they say three other museums, but they’re all in one building, interconnected, and only have one entrance. So really it’s entry to the Doge’s Palace and one museum with three themes. I saw the outside of the famous Basillica di San Marco, but the security guard was being arbitrary when choosing who was allowed to carry their backpack inside, and I didn’t much want to get back in line after walking a block to the cloakroom. Plus, what’s another cathedral?

Day 56
Today, it is in fair Verona where we lay our scene. And I’m not going to lie, I was there for one reason. Verona is the city that Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Romeo and Juliet was set. It’s one of my favourites (and the subject of the greatest song of all time, Dire Straits’ Romeo and Juliet. I will fight you.), so I absolutely had to go there while I was in the region. I swung by the famous Roman stadium in the middle of town, like a smaller, pinker, Colosseum. But I had to go to ‘Juliet’s Balcony’, which is apparently the balcony that served as Shakespeare’s inspiration. There isn’t actually any evidence that Shakespeare ever went to Italy, despite many of his plays being set there, but it’s nice to pretend.

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It's much pinker in person.

Day 57
Which brings me to today. Today, I went to the Rialto Bridge, across the Grand Canal. It’s currently being restored, but is still impressive. I then, finally, ventured onto the canals themselves. In a Waterbus, of course, not the gondola that’s on my bucket list. Because a gondola ride costs €80. I wandered the city for a while longer, and decided to relax for a little longer at the hostel, before writing this very blog.

Tomorrow I’m spending twelve hours on a bus or something ridiculous like that. So that will be fun.

Travel Diary 20/5/16

Slightly earlier than usual, here’s a travel diary. Won’t be much to report this time around, mostly some do-nothing days. All this travelling is hard work, you have to relax sometimes.

Day 43
My last full day in Rome, I figured I should make the most of it. First up I trekked my way over to the Catacombs of St Callixtus, one of five underground cemeteries in Rome. I suggest you take the bus, as the walk from the nearest Metro stop is not as easy as Google Maps would suggest. I got onto the last English tour before they closed at noon (to reopen at two pm, like so many other places in Italy). it was really interesting, however, unlike the famous Paris Catacombs, the bodies have been removed from the publicly accessible tombs, including more than a few Popes.

After taking another ill-thought out walk, I found my way back into the city proper, and went to the Spanish Steps… which are currently under extensive restoration. You can see the steps through the transparent barriers, but I think I’ll save the photos for next time.

From there, it was a short jaunt to the Pantheon, which is quite impressive. Not sure what I was expecting, it’s one of those sights you know you have to see when you’re in Rome, but I don’t know, I never had a coherent picture of it in my mind. But yeah, another big, ancient church to cross off my list.

Day 44
I made the most of my ten o’clock checkout, and slept in. At this point, I want to plug the place I stayed in Rome, Hard Rock Rooms. It’s a tiny place, an apartment converted into a two-dorm hostel. It’s a minute away from the Metro, the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, and in addition to the standard free hostel breakfast, they provide a pasta dinner every night. It’s almost like a big family dinner, with everyone around the small table. By far the best place I’ve stayed.

Anyway, I took an afternoon train to Naples, found my way to my hostel, and didn’t do much else with my day.

Day 45
A bucket list item got crossed off today, one of the big ones: Pompeii. Getting there is easy enough, despite Italy’s famously poor rail system.

One thing I didn’t know is just how enormous Pompeii is. A lot of it is kind of same-y after a while, and the distance between the points of interest are kind of long, especially for someone of my fitness level. It also rained. But all in all, I’d say a good day. Pompeii is just too cool to be any other kind of day.

Day 46
I decided to have a look around Naples today, I climbed up to St Elmo’s Castle, or at least the square in front of it, for an amazing panoramic view of the city. I then hiked all the way down to Castle Nuovo on the waterfront. I didn’t go into either, because I thought they were impressive enough from outside, and I’m trying to save a little money at this stage in my trip, since I overspent in that first month.

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Don't quite have the hang of the panorama feature on my camera...

I did spend money checking out ancient Greek/Roman aqueduct under the city, which was converted to a bomb shelter in the 1940s. The two-hour tour only cost €10, and was fantastic.

Day 47/48
A couple of do-nothing days, caught up on laundry, uploaded some photos watched some TV and read some comics. Basically just recharged my batteries, before catching the overnight ferry to Palermo…

Day 49
I got into Palermo at around 6.30 am, having got around three hours sleep on the ship. So I found my way to the hostel, which was easy enough, and dropped off my bag. I then proceeded to wander the city for the morning, until I could check into the hostel. I didn’t accomplish much of anything, to be perfectly honest. Too tired.

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I looked a lot like this dude most of this week.

Day 50
I think fifty days is an achievement in itself, and to celebrate (because I definitely knew I was fifty days in), I had another lazy day, this time heading to the beach for a few hours. Which brings us to this exact moment, as I have returned to the hostel now, since it has clouded over a little, and I am relaying my week to all of you adoring readers.

Tomorrow I’ll do some proper sightseeing in Palermo, it’s really a nice city. And maybe some more the day after, since I am once again waiting for a night ferry back to the mainland.