Day One: Our first port of call on our Mediterranean Cruise was
We docked in Messina and had enough time for a leisurely breakfast before our excursion of the day... a trip to the beautiful resort town of Taormina.
above: Messina, Sicily
hanging out on our deck after docking
A rare Lubitz family photo
Chris and Akiko look great despite the strange mechanical contraption behind them that was attached to their deck and which was used quite often by the window cleaners.
Group photo with fake Sicilian pizza girl... notice how her pizza does not even slide off the tray--she's magic ;). I do have to say that the photo ops and photographers were not the best on this ship. So uncharacteristic for cruise ships, the entertainment was not great either. My Mom kept saying maybe that is where they are cutting corners because of the economy--the photographers and the entertainment. Could be?
We had a nice leisurely bus ride along the coast of Sicily on our way to Taormina. Of course someone had to ask about where they filmed The Godfather (the answer is usually at a movie studio), but I guess they did film some scenes in a little village high on the hillside. The bus driver pointed out the village to us from way down on the highway both on the way to Taormina and on the way home.
Things NOT lacking in the country of Italy: fantastic fountains, awesome churches and really really tasty food!
In the above photo you have a lovely place for lunch with a view of a beautiful church... this is very common, but wonderfully relaxing none the less.
Taormina was full of narrow little alley ways, so clean and beautifully maintained as well as wonderful shops, lovely hotels and lots and lots of restaurants. Taormina also has a gorgeous view of the sea from nearly every angle.
Taormina was colonized by the Greeks at the end of the 5th century BC and this beautiful Greek Theater remains. The theater has an amazing view of Mt. Etna, an active volcano as well as views of the town of Taormina and the sea surrounding it approximately 650 feet below.
They still use the amphitheater and it was being set up for a concert the day we were there. The picture below of the "boys" is taken from the top of the theater facing the opposite direction of Mt. Etna.
Taormina really had some nice shopping. Joey bought Julia a pair of turquoise rose earrings. There was beautiful pottery and linens, antiques, designer clothing and just about anything else you could imagine.
We stopped for lunch at a crowded little cafe that had air conditioning (sort of). Our tour guide had told us of a traditional Taorminian pasta dish with "macaroni" noodles (their macaroni noodles don't look much like ours) and eggplant, basil, tomato sauce and parmesan. I think I was the only one that ordered it. Michael ordered some simple but delicious pasta with fresh tomatoes, herbs and olive oil and his favorite, melon with proscuitto... a staple at every Italian restaurant.
Grammy ordered the pasta with clams:
This fountain (I am on the backside of it) was our meeting place to get back on the bus to head back to the cruise ship. As you can see, it was a gorgeous day however, it was hot. There was also a fire burning on the hillside, so there was quite a bit of smoke and ash in the air. We were ready to head back.
But... not before Joey got his Marzipan fruit. The kid is obsessed with Marzipan???
And all I wanted to try was Sicilian Cannoli. Yum!!!
I got the traditional Cannoli ONLY because I didn't see the CHOCOLATE kind until after I had made my purchase and there was no way I was going to talk anyone into eating all that Cannoli with me.
Traditional Cannoli on the left... the filling is so rich and delicious!
Below: The chocolate Cannoli I did not see until it was too late :(
Perhaps I will learn to make chocolate Cannoli??? Perhaps not.
Maybe there is a traditional Italian bakery in Portland. I will have to research it.
So the bus ride home was full of 'The Godfather' soundtrack music courtesy of our bus driver and lots of rich, delicious Sicilian pastries.
Leaving Sicily... the leaving part is always bittersweet.