Returning to Taormina


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May 30th 2019
Published: June 20th 2019
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CAVERNSCAVERNSCAVERNS

I don't have much luck taking cave photos, but the water is such a lovely color, its hard to resist trying.
INTRODUCTION TO 2019 MEDITERRANEAN DIVE TRIP

Hello Readers…it is sunny and warm here in the Mediterranean. I am fifteen days into my 2019 dive trip.

The holidays were over, ski season was finished, and the school year was winding down, and I was wondering when and where I would go this year. Then a Turkish friend at my Monday dance (recreational ballroom) extolled her beautiful summer home in Bodrum, Turkey. When she said she swam every morning in the sea, and often went to the opera, and plays I said, “OK…I think I will visit you this summer.” She was gracious and didn’t say she didn’t want company. I was half kidding, but soon I was seriously thinking about going. Gulen invited me to lunch and we talked a bit more about me visiting her in Turkey. She said she liked to travel when she was in Europe, and I said I also liked to travel, (I was thinking a quick 3 day stop in Poland, maybe?) We were both annoyed about the extra money we had to pay to travel as a single, and before I knew it we were making plans for a cruise to St Petersburg,
JELLY FISHJELLY FISHJELLY FISH

Not really well balanced, but I liked the play of shadows.
in July.

Soon I was putting finishing touches on a dive trip along the Adriatic coast.

I spent three years in Bulgaria with the Peace Corps and I missed diving. I managed one trip to the Black Sea. The weather wasn’t cooperating, but finally after an impatient week of waiting, I was able to do two shore dives. I also took two trips to Malta and dived several days on each trip. But three years is a long time, so I day-dreamed about diving the Adriatic coast some day: Sicily, Croatia, Greece, and Turkey. I never found anyone interested in doing this trip with me, so it was just a vague memory resting in the back of my mind.

In 2004 I went to Sicily with a Peace Corps friend. I took a bus tour to Taormina, because the film “The Big Blue” was filmed there. I am a fan. I had only an hour there so I looked around and had to decide…lunch, or take the cable car to the beach. I knew I would be disappointed, only looking at the water, so I chose lunch. This year, I’m diving.

I left Seattle on May
TWO JELLY FISHTWO JELLY FISHTWO JELLY FISH

There were dozens.
28 for Catania, Sicily; a three flight trip. Then I took a bus from the Catania to Taormina. Traveling was not easy. I didn’t miss any flights, but I struggled with my luggage and it was a long trip. Along the way people were very helpful. It was exhausting, nonetheless.

I got off at the Taormina train station, in the middle of nowhere. The dive shop I had contacted, The Sea Spirit turned out to be in Giardini-Naxos, not Taormina. The taxi driver outside the station was rude and added five euro to the price to get there, so I decided to take a bus. I stood at the bus stop right across from the station. A lovely lady also waited for the bus and offered to call the dive shop for me. Cila, who answered, told me to take the bus to the first stop in Giardini and she would pick me up. She took me to the shop where we talked about diving and scheduled some dives. She suggested two places to stay, a hotel and a bed and breakfast. I chose the hotel, the Assinos Palace Hotel, because it was close, breakfast was included and it
THE OCTOPUSTHE OCTOPUSTHE OCTOPUS

We changed his plans...I think he was investigating the bright silver anchor.
had a restaurant. I left my dive gear at the shop and Cila gave me a ride to the hotel. It was beautiful, with a great staff and it was reasonably priced.

The divemasters at Sea Spirit were so helpful and I had a wonderful time. The first shocker, however, was the water temperature. It was really cold for me, a dry suit diver from Seattle, expecting warm water. I carry all my own dive gear, but I only had a 3 ml suit with me, so I borrowed a five ml suit and wore a 2 ml shorty over the top. I was cold, but I am tough. I did four dives, two a day, and my teeth chattered when I got out. Luckily the weather changed for the better. There was sunshine so I could warm up between dives. We spent our surface interval on the beach with hot tea and fruit. Still the cold water seeping down my back and shoulders when I got in the water is a feeling I could do without. Thank goodness the camera is a diversion. The visibility was great, and the water was very clear. The dive sites are a
THE SAME OCTOPUSTHE SAME OCTOPUSTHE SAME OCTOPUS

He changed his color and his texture.
jumble of giant rocks, an interesting terrain, with valleys and crevices and swim-throughs. There were lots of small fish, some colorful mid-size wrasses, and an abundance of brightly colored fire worms. We found several nudibranchs, which makes this photographer happy. And when finishing the first day’s dives Alena, the divemaster, discovered an octopus lying on the anchor. Luckily, because as he was trying to beat a hasty retreat she continued to slowly pull up the anchor, with the octo, giving me time to reset my camera and get a few photos.

The dive shop was busy for two days; the boat was filled with students doing dive classes. That was good for me, giving me some time to recuperate from my travels. I got a lot of individual attention on my dive days with plenty of time to take photos. On day two the water was teeming with jellyfish. I was thrilled. Taking photos of them is a real challenge and I am always trying to get that one great shot.

My last full day I took a bus to Castelmola, a small village that sits high above Taormina and the site of an old castle. It was
NUDIBRANCHNUDIBRANCHNUDIBRANCH

Looking at my photos I discovered there were half a dozen varieties.
a good excursion. But the bus station was a hoot! It reminded me of my days in Bulgaria. No one knew where the connecting bus was. I wandered around asking, and the bus drivers would all shake their heads. There were about six of us trying to find the correct bus. After half an hour, with no luck, someone suddenly grabbed me. Our bus was already rolling, but one of the men got the driver’s attention and we managed to pull ourselves onto it.

When I got off the bus the first thing I saw was a sign advertising Magnum ice cream bars, so I bought one. A Magnum bar on a hot sunny day is one of life’s simple pleasures. I walked up the winding streets and took a few photos of the villages down below and the wondrous sea. After a thorough exploration of the old castle walls I realized I had just missed the return bus. What to do? They come every hour on the hour. I decided to visit the village church and small shops. I chatted with a local artist and told him his self-portrait looked like Sean Connery; he loved it. I bought
FLAT WORMFLAT WORMFLAT WORM

Sometimes these are listed in the Nudibranch books. You can see his rhinophores, the horns on his head, but there is no feathery lung.
an elastic ring sporting a tiny round piece of lava from Mt. Etna. Then I spied some tourists sharing a pot of tea and I was drawn like a magnet to the small cafe. I sat in the sun, under an umbrella and drank two pots of tea and read my novel looking out at the sea. It was delightful.

As I walked back to the bus stop I realized I had lost my sweater. I asked at the shop where I bought the ice cream if they had seen it. I explained that my “jumper” was the same color as the proprietor’s sweater vest, but the wife shook her head. I went back to the bus stop; I knew it was a long shot. Just as the bus pulled up the woman from the café ran up and excitedly indicated that her friend was coming with my sweater. Sure enough…the friend arrived and handed it to me. We were all so delighted that I was reunited with my sweater. It was a sweet moment. And I still made my bus.


Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


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MOTHER AND SON ?MOTHER AND SON ?
MOTHER AND SON ?

The lung is apparent here. If they feel disturbed they tuck it in.
NUDIBRANCHNUDIBRANCH
NUDIBRANCH

This one is so cute. He just tumbled head over heels down a slope because of the backwash of some diver's fins. You can see his rhinophores, and if you look closely you can see his lung tucked in.
GRAZINGGRAZING
GRAZING

This nudibranch is happier now, but still cautious. The lung is still hidden. I think he looks like a little pig.
FIRE WORMFIRE WORM
FIRE WORM

These covered the rocks and walls. They sting so don't touch. Pretty colors.
DIVEMASTER, ALENADIVEMASTER, ALENA
DIVEMASTER, ALENA

Just a nice clear photo of her.
BABY SCORPION FISHBABY SCORPION FISH
BABY SCORPION FISH

There were many of these on the rocks, but they usually skitter away.
JELLY FISHJELLY FISH
JELLY FISH

I was happy with several of these shots. I checked the spelling...jellyfish are actually now labled Sea Jellies.
ANOTHER NUDIBRANCHANOTHER NUDIBRANCH
ANOTHER NUDIBRANCH

I was cold and I thought there wasn't much to see...I was wrong.


23rd June 2019

Fantastic!
Glad you've been reunited with your sweater. The diving looks good but yes that is a cold water world. Thanks for taking us along.

Tot: 2.324s; Tpl: 0.088s; cc: 12; qc: 29; dbt: 0.0313s; 2; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb