Pirates of the Mediterranean

Trip Start Feb 18, 2004
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Trip End Dec 05, 2005


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Saturday, May 29, 2004

I'm in Sicily now having just spent the last few days on a sailboat going around the Mediterranean a bit. I think I may have expected too much beforehand - beautiful beaches, cool islands, hot weather, that sort of thing. The sailboat was probably about 30ft with beds for four...six if you put mattress pads on deck, eight if you clear out a bunch of junk from the front hatch. Oh, and no bathroom or shower. There were six of us onboard when I arrived (Dave = captain, Barbara = Dave's girlfriend, Ilona = Latvian friend of Barbara's, Chris = American, Johnny = Brit) and a seventh the next day (Martin = Swede). I met them at the port in Marsala (west side of Sicily) on Wednesday. They had been there a day and a half already and planned on just hanging out there another night. I thought that was lame 'cuz I wanted to be sailing and the port was kinda stinky. Thursday there wasn't much wind so we had to use the motor to get to an island off the coast. The bay we found was pretty, but the weather wasn't warm enough for swimming so we just hung out on the boat. Martin somehow managed to find the bay we were at and Chris and I went and got him in the paddleboat.

The next morning, Chris, Martin and I paddled over to shore, walked into town and hiked up to an old WWII fort. It was cool and had a great view. We sailed on that afternoon to the island of Levanzo. There was just a dinky little town there. We went in and stopped at a bar for a couple drinks then went back to the boat and hung out. Spongebob would've liked the bay here - in the morning there were jellyfish all over. I caught a ferry from there to Trapina and a bus from there to Salermo where I am now. I'll catch the evening ferry from here and arrive in Naples in the morning (and get to shower!).

Prior to Sicily, I spent the week in Naples. Scott Hill's sister-in-law gave me a place to stay. Me likes free places to stay. She works in the Navy as an air traffic controller (there are several bases around Naples). She took me by the commissary first thing where I found real Cheetos (no freakin' ham flavoring like you find all over Spain) and Nutter Butters! Oh yeah! Her apartment is a bit far out in the 'burbs, but she took a few days off to play tour host. The first night I was there, we went with her neighbors to a nearby family-owned Italian restaurant. They knew Allyson's neighbors well and were giving them a hard time. "Mama" was even smacking her future son-in-law upside the head, which I thought was funny (just like tv). I finally found friendly Italians! Oh, the food was good too.
In the morning, Allyson and I had our sugary cereal fix then went to Paestum. She drives crazy! But then all the Italians do too, so maybe you have to here to survive. It has three well-preserved Greek temples. Allyson was climbing on the walls out in the brush and managed to break part of the wall (and scratch her arm in the fall)...um, no, uhhhh, it wasn't my idea to walk along the walls...nevermind what she says.

Greek temple at Paestum

Wednesday we went to Pompeii - it's HUGE! At first we were staring at all the temples and inside the houses, but after over an hour we decided we needed to do more of a "highlights" tour. There are some nice murals to see there. ;) Spanky made some extra money there too. We still ended up spending about four hours wandering the site.
Allyson had to work on Thursday so I hung around the apartment and entertained her hyperactive puppy, Liberty. I meant to make it on the ferry to Sardinia that evening, but we were late getting to the port. They still sold me a ticket and I walked out and got to watch the ferry sail away. And then they'd only refund 75% of my money! That's when you need to know Italian so you can throw a fit and curse up a storm. Anyway, we met up with Sam and Megan (the neighbors) at a downtown restaurant for dinner.
The sailboat I was going to meet in Sardinia would be in Sicily in a few days so I just stayed in Naples for a bit longer than orginally planned. Since I hadn't really seen any of Naples, we went exploring around the city on Friday. A couple cool castles and lots of people trying to sell you stuff, but otherwise just a typical city.
Saturday we went down to the port and caught the ferry over to Capri. It's really pretty there and the towns are cute, but there aren't any beaches! It has too many cliffs and sheer rock walls. We took the buses around and saw the towns and some good views. They have cool taxis there - stretch convertible towncars. We chose to ride the buses of doom instead (cheaper).

Capri

It rained and rained and rained Sunday so we just sat inside and watched movies all day. I hardly moved from the couch.
The sun was out again on Monday. We went with Sam and Megan to the Amalfi coast. The drive up over the mountains was pretty and all the coastal towns were cute. We stopped in Amalfi, had lunch and took a look around town. There's a cool looking church with a little piazza in front of it where we sat and had gelatti. Then we made our way along the coast by Sorrento and back to Naples.

Amalfi

Tuesday came along, I think by then we'd seen most the sites around Naples. We ended up going to an area in Naples that has a colosseum with her friends Rita and Steve and their daughters, Carol and Megan. The colosseum was closed so we just went down by the water and wandered around, had some ice cream. Allyson took me back downtown that evening so I could catch the ferry...I barely made it. I cruised from there to Palermo in Sicily and continued on to meet up with the sailboat.

Allyson was a great host and didn't ever threaten to kick me out even when she knew she was stuck with me for a few more days. Having her nice apartment and my own room to stay in for a whole week was a good change of pace. And the commissary on base has lots of food from the States so it gave me a bit of a feeling of the comforts of home. I was beginning to get too comfortable though and losing the "backpacker edge". What little Italian I had learned was draining from my brain. I felt the need to get out on the trains, wander lost through cities and meet other travelers. And to think my horoscope sign says I like to stay at home and do domestic stuff.

I heard the gas prices back home are up to like $2.25 /gallon. So you don't feel so bad, gas prices here are about $10 /gallon. Ya, REALLY expensive. They probably burn up more fuel driving insanely too.

I've been gone about 3 1/2 months now so that means this is the longest I've been away from home before. Someone asked me a while back if I was tired of traveling yet. Nope. The stay in Naples helped refresh me a bit. Or look at it this way, would I rather be at home working 40 hours a week or here seeing all kinds of cool places? Not too hard to figure out.

While I was in Naples and on the sailboat, I pretty much didn't have access to Internet or payphones to call and wish people happy birthday. Soooo, happy birthday wishes to Julie, Teeter, cuz'n Liz, MO, Janelle, Shanna and Jenny.
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