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Published: August 16th 2017
Today we travel to Lipari, which is one of the Aeolian Islands off the north coast of Sicily.
We pack. There is a tin on the desk in our room, and when we arrived here Issy told me that it was full of tobacco. I ask her if she wants to take it with her. I'm not sure why I ask her this; Issy doesn't smoke. I open the tin, and find two lollies in the bottom of it. It seems that she told me it was full of tobacco so that I wouldn't open it and find her secret stash of lollies, which she's now nearly finished eating. I am clearly blindly trusting of her. She says that she can't believe that she made me believe that the hotel had given us a tin of tobacco. She asks me why I would think that. Now that she's asked me I must say that I think that this is a very good question. I'm not used to being deceived by my beloved. I make a mental note to remember to be on my guard a bit more from now on.
We walk to the station and catch the train
back to Naples, and then catch a taxi from the main train station in Naples down to the port. Our taxi driver drives off at the same time as one of the other taxis. It seems that the two drivers know each other. They both wind down their windows and have a conversation, and they do this while they are travelling through heavy traffic at 50 kilometres per hour. I think that this must be a special skill that only taxi drivers have. I wonder if it is taught at taxi driver school. The taxi next to us needs to slow down because the cars in front of him have slowed down. Our driver wants to continue the conversation, so he slows down too. There are no cars in front of our taxi, so he is now holding up all the traffic behind him. There is lots of horn blowing and arm waving going on behind us, but the conversation between the two drivers continues. Our driver asks us where we are from, and when we tell him that we are from Australia he says "kangaroo" very excitedly and holds his hands up close to his chest in his very
best Skippy impersonation.
We reach the ferry terminal and check in. We now have two hours until it leaves. We decide that we need drinks. There is a small stall next to the waiting area for the ferry, run by a Russian sounding lady, and two Russian sounding men. I ask for two cans of soft drink. When I go to pay, one of the Russian men offers me some very suspicious looking cigarettes. I tell him that I don't want these, but he asks me again if I'm really sure that I don't want to buy them. I think that I may have become part of a sting. I think that he is really a member of the Naples Drug Squad carefully disguised as a Russian stall owner, and he and his companions are trying to see if I will do a drug deal with them. I pay for the drinks and walk away quickly.
Issy is happy to sit in the waiting area, so I wander along the waterfront. I had heard that Naples was a bit seedy, but the waterfront is very attractive. The skyline is dominated by Mount Vesuvius and an old waterfront fort
called Castel dell'Ovo. We read that there has been a fort on this site since the sixth century BC, and it is the oldest fort in Naples. There are lots of boats in the harbour, including some very fancy looking cabin cruisers which look like they are probably owned by people who are very rich and famous. I walk past a small beach area crammed with bathing boxes, sun lounges, umbrellas, and people sitting in the water on plastic chairs. There is a large sign in front of this beach area saying that bathing is forbidden because the area is part of the port. I suppose that sitting on a plastic chair in the water is not bathing in the strictest sense of the word.
We get on our hydrofoil ferry. I was hoping to take some photos from the ferry, but there is nowhere to go outside. The windows let in lots of light, but they are very scratched and salt damaged so it's hard to see through them. Issy has dosed up on her seasickness pills, so she falls asleep. It is four hours until we reach our first stop, which is the island of Stromboli. This
is a very active volcano that we have booked to come back to climb in a few days. It is then another two hours and four other island stops before we finally reach Lipari.
We catch a taxi to our hotel which is up the hill above the town. It is dark, but the views are still very good. Our room overlooks an infinity pool and has a large balcony. We decide that we will be spending a lot of time here on the balcony and in the pool.
We ask the hotel manager where we can get some dinner. It seems that the hotel doesn't usually serve dinner, except once a year on 15th August, and today is 15th August. We are not sure why 15th August is special, and we are too hungry to bother asking. The manager says that he will reserve a table for us. The area around the pool is packed with tables set for dinner, and most of them are full. Some of the tables are very large, and are occupied by large groups of people who all seem to know each other. Everyone is well dressed, except for us. It feels
like we have gate crashed a private party. Most of the guests are in their sixties, and look like they are probably the social elite of Lipari. Lipari is a very small island, and I wouldn't necessarily have thought of it as having a social elite. I then remember that we are in part of Sicily. I hope that the men aren't Sicilian businessmen like the ones in The Godfather. There is a band playing, and some of the people are dancing. We feel very out of place. We're fairly sure that we are the only people here who aren't Italian. I hope that we aren't the only people here who aren't associated with Sicilian businessmen like the ones in The Godfather. The meal is a set menu. The dishes come out very slowly, and there are lots of them. It is midnight, and we are very tired. We wait patiently and finally dessert appears. It looks like two slices of pink tart garnished with peaches and a sauce. I drool as I bite into it. It looked like dessert, but it is actually salmon, and it is the main course. We are now close to falling asleep. Again we
wait patiently. Dessert finally appears at 1am. We gobble it down quickly and stagger back to our room. We Google "15th August Italy". It seems that today is a religious public holiday in Italy for Assumption Day. I wonder if Sicilian businessmen like the ones in The Godfather celebrate religious holidays. I also wonder if they read travel blogs. I wouldn't want to come back to the room one day and find a horse's head in our bed, or worse still to be dragged off in the middle of the night to be fitted with a large pair of concrete shoes. I am very tired, but I can still feel a sleepless night coming on.
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