Weather: promised 18, probably nearer 21 in the shade, and even higher in the sunshine.
Wind: minimal and dropping.
The fifth port day in five days. There are no adjectives for this level of tired. There really aren’t. For the first time on this cruise, Dad’s morning call woke me up – I’m usually already awake, if not up, by then – and his call coincided exactly with the arrival of my breakfast, which meant I woke bewildered and panicking with no idea whether to answer the door or the phone first! I dropped the phone and answered the door. Birds 2 Stones 1. After breakfast, I rang Dad back and we got off at about quarter past ten.
The taxis at the port entrance only wanted to do day-long tours and charge an absolute fortune (seriously, they wanted our entire budget for TWO DAYS here for a three-hour drive – nope), so we abandoned the idea of going to Etna and just pootled into town instead. It’s a bit run down near the port, but the bit near the Cathedral is very pretty. We stopped at about noon for a drink and a surprisingly good loo and were just in time for the most cacophonous notification of time. The Cathedral is surrounded by other churches, and they all have something different to say at noon. Some strike solemnly, some have carillons and some have little bells that ring rather like the Fire Station alarm at Trumpton. But they ALL do it at noon. We laughed ourselves silly. It was hilarious.
One of our maps had a list of hotels and restaurants, so we went for the nearest four star hotel to where we were. The loos were very nice but it didn’t have a restaurant! It’s basically just a glorified bed and breakfast. I wouldn’t call that four star?! Very odd. They had also turned the disabled loo into a store cupboard, complete with Christmas lights in the sink. Not ideal. On our way there, however, we had passed a very nice-looking restaurant with a dozen-page menu in four languages, and a mention of allergens (THAT is a first for this trip!). So we went back there and had a FANTASTIC meal.
Mum had brushcetta, Dad had a superb pizza and I had GLUTEN-FREE spaghetti napoletana! Woohoo! This restaurant is called the Royal Ceres and it is on Via San Giuseppe al Duomo. The fish is very fresh, and they bring the corpse of your choice to your table for approval before they cook it (we watched the next table do this). The decor is a bit, um, eclectic, with a five-foot statue of Blind Justice holding her scales and a sword (?!)(isn’t it supposed to be a book?!), and a fake red telephone box with a VERY old telephone inside (the one where you have a mouthpiece on the wall and a trumpet to put to your ear). All very odd. But the food was superb, the loos were a delight and the bill was miniscule. Cannot recommend this one highly enough.
Then we realised we were all utterly shattered, so we cabbed it back to the ship for a siesta. Bob was 4 anyway, so half two was probably sensible. Our taxi driver told the man at the gate he wanted to drive us as close as possible, but the gate guard was a bit of a jobsworth and wasn’t having any of it. My Italian is VERY limited, but I know the word for wheelchair, and the rest of it was something along the lines of, Don’t be such an arse, there’s a wheelchair in the boot, just let me take them over to the terminal (which was maybe 150 yards in front of us). Eventually, he talked his way in, but Dad and I were having hysterics in the back. I think our driver was handsomely tipped for his efforts, and, as Dad pointed out, he probably enjoyed it as much as we did. Silly little man with the clipboard on the gate. Made a bit of a tit of himself, frankly.
So here endeth the fifth port in five days. If you are offered the opportunity to do five ports in five days, I recommend a flat refusal. I’m shattered and going for a siesta. Gnite.