Catania Day 1 – Attack of the Rome(an)s (and Greeks)

Having purchased and printed my train tickets the night before (well, Paypal did the purchasing and Reception did the printing, but I was the middleperson), I got off (alone (parents took the day off, and frankly, can’t blame them – I’m knackered and I’m not in my eighties)) at 10 and walked up to the Central train station, to catch the train to Syracuse (Siracusa). Found a LOT of Oriana passengers on the platform! P&O really missed a trick by not putting on an excursion for this. Tagged along with a small group for the hour-long ride through the countryside and down the coast. At the other end, we walked through the town itself and out across the bridge to the island of Ortigia (Orteeja), to the Temple of Apollo (ruins of) and the other old buildings and history and archaeology and stuff. This was where Archimedes did his post-bath exercise when he figured out displacement. It oozes history from every brick (insert usual ‘faded charm’ passage here). Walked MILES. The weather was warm (25 in the shade, so about 33+ in the sunshine)(and yes, I forgot the suncream, so you may now call me Rudolf) but breezy, so bearable, and the whole thing was thoroughly enjoyable.

This is NOT a place to bring a wheelchair, however. Never mind hoiking it up onto the train and down again – which would have challenged Geoff Capes, I would imagine – there are about two dipped kerbs in the whole place. The paving is nice and smooth and flat (everything gets updated after the earthquakes), but negotiating the kerbs with a wheelchair WILL kill you, be in no doubt about that – and wouldn’t do your passenger much good, either.

When I sat down in a cafe to order a late lunch, the waitress ignored me for twenty minutes before being forced by her boss to deliver a menu, and then ignored me some more. When I tried to order, she then announced that the kitchen had closed while I was waiting! Bloody cheek! So I went to the cafe next door and ate and enjoyed a very good meal in less time than it had taken her to even come to my table. So, if you need a bite to eat in Ortigia, you need to dine at Le Spighe de Demetra Panificio, NOT the Bar De Ponte Cristina next door.

Then I went back to the station for the hour-long journey home, and who should be waiting on the platform but the group I travelled down with?! So we chatted all the way back again, comparing our days and experiences, and enjoying the scenery til we got back to Catania and to the ship. Just in time for first sitting dinner.

The journey from the station to the ship was much less enjoyable than the morning one had been, going the other way, because (a) I twisted my left knee disembarking the train, so I now have a limp (to add to the bad finger on my left hand and the bad left shoulder/rotator cuff I was already having physio for before we left)(seriously, you could slice me down the middle right now, and only one half would have even scrap value), and (b) the winds really started picking up at about 3pm, and it was getting somewhat chilly by the time we got back. Not cold, per se, but definitely not as balmy as earlier on. Suffice to say, it was certainly no longer sandals and t-shirts and shorts weather. The subsequent arrival of sunset didn’t help with the temperature, and the flags on the quayside were really struggling with the wind by the time we finished dinner at 8 (useful having a window seat, innit?!). When we boarded, I noticed that at least one large terracotta plant pot by the cruise terminal had had to go for a lie down already. They’re clearly not used to inclement weather here. #gladtohaveaninsidecabintonight.

Things currently worrying me greatly:

(1) I found no usable postcards today so will have to remember tomorrow

(2) I’m not sure how well I will sleep tonight – there will be no rocking motion, as we are in port overnight to hide from the bad weather.

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