This is a blog about our holiday to Europe in 2014. We started off our travels in Venice, where we began a cruise of the Adriatic and Aegean seas, ending in Rome. We then travelled from Rome to the Netherlands by rail, stopping in various places along the way. We are: Me - Gill, my husband - Grant, my daughter - Paula; my father - Neil and his partner - Astrid. We are South Africans, from the lovely province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Our friends Lisa and Trevor joined us from the UK for the cruise portion of our holiday.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Catania, Sicily, Italy

We docked in Catania bright and early and after another room-service breakfast we met our Rome in Limo driver, Luca, and set off for Mount Etna.  Luca was a lovely friendly tour guide and chatted to us along the way.  First we stopped in a charming little village in the foothills of Mount Etna, Nicolosi.  

Luca told us that Etna had had a minor little eruption 3 days ago, which was quite exciting/alarming... depends which way you look at it!  And he went on to show us a garage roof covered in a thick layer of ash from another small eruption 2 weeks ago. (see below) 

He explained to us how suddenly and thickly the ash sometimes descends.  In the village we visited people can't get insurance for their houses at all, as there is the ever-present danger of another big eruption and the houses are very unstable because of the continuous earth tremors.  
We drove on to a wonderful little shop called Oro d'Etna, with all kinds of honey products, wines, pestos and olives.  There were lots of products set out to sample, we had great fun there!  I bought an amazing olive pesto called "Etna pesto" - can't wait to take it home for Roxy to taste.  We'd love to have bought more, but luggage space is always a problem!  

Luca explained that (like Santorini) the local wines and other produce are particularly good because they are grown in volcanic soil.  

We then continued our drive up Mount Etna, twisting and turning up hair-pin bends (I got really nauseous from all the twisting and turning...) all the way to 2000m.   The landscape got more and more amazing the higher we climbed.  

We drove a bit beyond the Sapienza Refuge, got out and took some photos.... wow, it was cold and windy up there - and then drove back down to the restaurant.  We walked to the Silvestri craters.  First we looked into the crater, Paula climbed right down into it and then we walked along the outer rim.  We couldn't believe the force of the wind there... we nearly got blown away!!  It was amazing up there, an alien landscape!  It far exceeded my expectations.

On the way down we had a brief stop for views of the vineyard and I met a friendly dog who planted his paws on my chest and gave me a big kiss!

We then continued to Taormina where we found a cute restaurant for lunch.  We had a lovely Sicilian starter platter and then shared a couple of good pizzas.   

Another loo story.....(sorry).... Paula and I went to the loo and thankfully as we were entering the facility a friendly lady was just leaving and she explained to us in broken English that the toilet lights keep going off, but they are on a motion switch, so to get them back on all you need to do is wave your hands energetically about above your head.  It felt really bizarre, crouching on the loo and waving your hands about in the air while having a wee, but you gotta do what you gotta do :-)

After lunch we quickly did a geocache in a lovely garden adjoining a little art gallery (in a cellar) - spotted a cute little Sicilian lizard.  

And some interesting statues...

After that we wandered and shopped.  Such lovely shops in Taormina!  

And then it was time to head back to the boat.  Back on board we got ready for formal night.  We had the lobster for dinner, yum.  We watched the circus show tonight, it was really good.  The contortionist was unbelievable, freaky what she could do with her body!  Just not natural!

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