Besides being away from work for two entire weeks, which is wonderful on a whole different level, these are the things that I loved most about my vacation:
1. Pupi. This is the Italian plural for puppets. We saw a puppet show in Siracusa which delighted me to no end. There were pupi for sale in every chatckie shop and tourist stand. In Taormina, we saw giant pupi. And I just love saying pupi. Pupi. Pupi. Pupi.
2. The seafood. It was the best. Robert, sent me a newly published book of slow food restaurants in Italy. We tried a couple of them and we scored. I had tuna tartare at a restaurant called Metro in Catania that blew us all away. I don't have a picture of that, but here are sea urchins from the market in Siracusa.
3. Mdina at Night. We arrived in Mdina, Malta, very very late and had a tiny bit of trouble finding our hotel at first. So, we ended up walking around Mdina, (The Silent City) in the middle of the night. It was gorgeous and quiet. This is the entrance to Mdina (a medieval fortressed city) as we saw it after being dropped off by our driver.
4. The Opera at the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania. I know bits and pieces about music here and there. But opera is a genre that I know little about. I think I have only seen two or three operas in my lifetime. Ross, Maggie and I saw Tosca at this opera house in Catania. There was a part in the opera that made me tear up a little. It was beautiful and sad. And the opera house was jaw-droppingly beautiful. And they served corn nuts.
5. Dwejra, Gozo. As I said in a previous post, the Mediterranean is so blue. It was thrilling to take a little boat ride out into the ocean and around the enormous rocks.
6. The Cardinal Visiting the Antique Car Show in Mdina. We got back to Mdina after doing some sightseeing and walked into the Cathedral Square to find hoards of people and rows of antique cars. We had so much fun looking at the cars. And then the cardinal arrived. Whee!
7. The Hike to Castello Saraceno in Taormina. I was sick at this point of our trip. And I am embarrassingly fearful of any sort of heights. The hike was steep with overlooks that made me dizzy. I wanted to give up about 1/5 of the way there. But Ross and Maggie encouranged me to continue. We hiked from way down in Taormina toward our destination which was the Castella Saraceno. Here is a shot taken during our hike. At this point we were 3/4 of the way there.
But dagnabbit! We were denied! The gate to Castello Saraceno was locked!
8. Mgarr Harbor in Gozo. It was just beautiful and we drank beer and ate malt balls as we overlooked the harbor.
And then we saw a horse swimming in it.
9. Mt. Etna. Hiking along snow-covered craters of an active volcano felt like walking on the moon. The lava rocks were extremely hot to the touch in some spots. It was so amazing up there.
10. St Paul's Cathedral in Mdina. I don't think I have ever seen anything quite like that. It was beautiful in there. There was different kinds of marble everywhere. Every surface was covered with some sort of decoration. It was just stunning.
11. Francesco, Our Taxi Driver. He was just supposed to take us from our hotel to the bus stop in Siracusa, but he ended up driving us all the way to our destination in Pozzallo. He gave us a tour of Noto on the way. He was such a nice man. I sat in the front seat of the taxi with him and he played music for me and I wiggled and danced in my seat in appreciation. That is Francesco in the lower right corner.
12. The Good Graffiti in Catania. I wasn't all that impressed with Catania. I thought it was smelly and dirty and there was graffiti everywhere. Most of it was really really lame. But then I discovered this one artist. I found a couple of his works in the city. I thought it was really amazing stuff. If you're going to do graffiti, do it right.