We should have taken the bus to Palermo

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April 14th 2013
Published: April 15th 2013
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Todays Gelato flavours - GMB - Bacio GLB - Chocolate(good old favourite for Gretchen!)

Regret is great in hindsight as we were to find out today and we should have listened to ourselves and all the guide books we have read on driving in Palermo but....................

Sorry if this is getting a bit boring to anyone who might be reading this in NZ as a large weather system with rain approaches the country to break the drought,at least in the north,but the sun was shining brightly again when we opened the shutters this morning.

We could very easily become attached to Sicily if it wasn't for the rubbish and the chaotic traffic.It does seem to have very pleasant weather which one could get used to very quickly especially when you can have breakfast of soft scrambled egg on a terrace facing east.

This next little story is really for Brent our son in law and immediate family members who will see the funny side we are sure.

We had a need today for a calculator for the first time since leaving NZ and so got the one out that we had packed.

Shock,horror! the batteries were flat and we had no way of charging it.As bRent knows we had purchased a card from the $2 shop at home that contained 50 different size of those little dome type batteries,enough, he had often joked to last us the rest of our lives.

Well, Brent,we could sure have done with that card now but it is back at Ranui Street!So today we will keep our eyes open for a similar shop to buy another calculator,this time a type that doesn't require batteries.

We had decided several times over the past couple of days when thinking about how we would get ourselves the 6km down the hill to Palermo for sightseeing and it always came back to taking the bus.

However another look at Google maps showed several parking areas close to the main road from Monreale into Palermo and we w ere happy to walk a couple of kilometres to get to the old town if we had to.

So with details of two car parks that looked approachable without too many turns in the road we gave the bus a miss and set off with the first car park in the GPS system.

We should have known things weren't going to go according to plan before we even left out street as Vicky kept telling us to go through a disused tunnel at the end of the street.We had noticed this tunnel as we had walked to the town a couple of times and wondered what it had been used for although we could see it was no longer in use with no cars passing us using it and with rubbish in its portal.

As we have often done we just ignored Vicky and she recalculated and we were soon on SS186 heading down towards Palermo.

As we expected traffic was light as it was Sunday and we made good progress down into the city where the streets were much wider than in Monreale and more like Rome with enough room for 2 cars to pass at 50kph even with a car double parked in Italian tradition.

The traffic got slightly heavier as got closer to our destination according to the GPS but not difficult to move past although there were an increasing number of one way streets becoming evident and we weren't sure what our approach would be to the parking area.

As we travelled along keeping an eye out for the big 'P'sign we were sure would indicate also that we had arrived we realised what all of the black African men were doing on every street corner.Of course,they were finding car parks for people and taking a payment.The area looked dodgy enough as it was and we thought that a designated parking area was better than paying some suspicious looking character to find a car park for our brand new Citroen in downtown Palermo.

Needless to say we never found the car park area and nor did we find the second one which we plugged into the GPS and by now the stress was starting to rise above acceptable BBA V2 levels.

So we decided to abandon the idea of finding a car park where we thought we might and as all of the parallel parking was also taken,even where there were big 'no parking'signs we headed back to Monreale to leave the car at the town car park and take the bus.

However as we w ere driving up the gentle rise just beyond the old town area we spied a side street with a parallel park open and no signs and decided to take the chance and park hoping Cindy would be there when we came back.

We walked back to the old town taking in the sights as we went which included the impressive Porta Nuova built in 1583 which looked like that it would have formed part of the city walls at some stage in the city's history.

The catherdral has an expansive square to walk through to get access to the cathedral itself and we had been aware that it would be closed on Sundays until 11.45am presumably for services.It was now nearly midday so we went in only to find that the service was still going and access to admire the internal architecture blocked by a rope.We decided to return on our way back to the car at the end of the tour of the city.

Next was the Quattro Canti,a sort of crossroads with a Baroque square laid out in 1608.The design of the architecture was something we had not seen before and despite the grimy appearance it made an interesting sight.

We took lunch at a café that had toilet facilities,a must when you can get them,for despite seeing McD signs we weren't sure which direction to find the golden arches and anyway we wouldn't have been able to lunch on pizza and a Sicilian specality in a deep fried ball of rice mixed with mozzarella,delicious!

Our walk soon had us at the port and a quick look inside a church built in the early 1400's which was rather plain compared to others we have seen so far.We strolled around the peace and quiet of the waterfront admiring the small number of semi super yachts and ordinary yachts in the marina with a cruise ship docked in the background.

The quietness of the waterfront was broken as we crossed back to the town side of the waterfront road which was being as a race track for motor bikes that raced each other towards a tunnel,we are sure they were speeding at over a hundred kilometres per hour.

San Domenico church was closed and we continued on frustrated hoping that other free sights would be open at least.This church had a fascinating statue in front of it making the rather plain church front more interesting to look at.

Next was the wide open space of Piazza Castelnuovo and a very impressive building at one end that looked like orchestras etc performed in.

The Teatro Massimo is a newer building from the 1880's and it was currently holding the opera Aida.There was a tour available but we starting to tire and we still had the couple of kilometres to walk back to our car after leaving the old city and also the cathedral to visit.

We topped up with a gelato and joined the tourista walking along several closed off streets.By now it was only the tourists and the stall people selling their cellphone covers(how many of those things are there in the world !!)and other stuff.It was here though that we found our €1 shop and made a purchase of a calculator and other items at the bargain price of €1 !!

We found to our and other tourists dismay that the cathedral was well and truly closed so we never got a decent look inside the church built in 1185 and of several different architectural styles as it had been used by various religions over the years depending upon who was ruling Sicily at the time including as a mosque.Quite a unique place and it was rather disappointing not to get a good look indoors.Trip Advisor will get a comment on the opening hours !

We were pleased to find Cindy still where we left her and we headed off up the hill to home only partially satisfied with our sightseeing due to the closure of places we would have liked to have gone inside.Never mind not every day on the BBA V2 will be perfect for sightseeing we are sure.

We forgot it was Sunday and the supermarket fair enough was closed but the café did have pastries for our breakfast tomorrow as we had run out of bread and a pizza type thing to add to dinner tonight instead of spuds which we had also run out of.

We finished the evening off with a couple of episodes of Mrs Brown's Boys which we think were funnier than later series and went to bed worn out after a day in Palermo.


24th April 2013

We found a use for that card of batteries that you so kindly put in Cormac's Christmas stocking last week....the battery back up for our alarm clock had run out and it required one of those little disc batteries. So we got out that huge supply that we were sure would also last us for the rest of our lives and shock horror....the size we needed wasnt there on the card. It had every size possible except the one we needed! I had to go up to the supermarket to buy one for $7 each!

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