“Vagabond” in the wonderland

And the day before yesterday we saw a volcuno eruption! We were anchored in the marina and waited for Cris, who went to the shore to met Leo and David before their departure to Barcelona. Me and Isabel were enjoying warm and calm evening on the deck, when she noticed a fire stream on a mountain slope. I suggested these are “human made” lights. But further spectations showed that was definitely a volcuno. Probably, even Etna. The light grew bigger and brighter, then broke into pieces and started to fade.

That is not a huge even for Sicilia, where vulcanos are a harmonic part of environment. But for us – it was!

Trying to imagine how was the life in the old castello on the entrance to Trapani port many centuries ago...

And yesterday we saw … dolphins!!! Not in a dolphinarium but in the wild! We sailed from Palermo to Trapani, and they appeared from nowhere and joined “Vagabond” for a while. They were rushing from board to board, jumping from water and showing their grey backs. Incredible creatures! So pleasant to be their guests.

About food

10 hours crossing from Palermo to Trapani, another sicilian on the north-west of the island. From sailor’s site we learnt that the city is famous for its seafood. But we, probably, are fed up with sea food for this moment. Our experience in Palermo with this type of cuisine was quite horrible.

Close to the marina, where we anchored, there was a restaurant called “Il Nautico”. There we headed with Cris, Luis, Isabel, Leo and David. The restaurant attracted us with fresh sea food, displayed near the entrance. We could see how a chef cooked it.

I’m not really a fan of fresh sea food, because of cruel methods that are used to cook still alive animals. But I love some fish and some of Japanese dishes.

First impression: the restaurant is overcrowded, waiters are in a hurry. Menu is in Italian (and that’s ok, we’re in Italy), waiters do not speak English (and that’s also ok, we’re in Italy). There was no opportunity to have a half of dishes mentioned in “fish” menu. Finally, we ordered an assorti and fish. Guys had some huge shrimps.

Result of the visit: food was bad and sometimes even disgusting. Waiters confused the orders, and the whole impression sucks.

Don’t think,  we will go to a seafood restaurant in Trapani.

Marina of Palermo

But I need to admit that, probably, I wasn’t fair to Palermo as a city. Some parts of it are not so bad. Like via Vittorio Emanuele, where you can find old buildings and fountains and cathedrals – some of them are rather impressive. Like Old port – marina close to city centre, full of yachts and boats. Like the resort suburb Mandello with cosy houses and clean beaches. And the countryside around Palermo is very beautiful: I admired the views on way to the airport to pick up our guests.

Paradise dwellers

This is a story about the paradise…

The lighthouse of Ustica

In Palermo our crew grew bigger: Cristiano’s friends and his brother from Brazil has arrived, Isabel from Poland joined the crew. All worries that we had, searching for Internet and car rent, were forgotten.

The next destination of “Vagabond” – the island Ustica in Tyrrhenian sea.

Map of Ustica on the main square

This day was a significant day for me. Precious feeling has returned to me – feeling of harmony with the world, being one piece with it, long time ago forgotten, always missed. Not a moment, not a mood but constant and strong feeling.

The beautiful sensitive yacht responsed for movements of steering wheel in my hands. Healing salty sea touched the hull and tried to get us from time to time. Sicily was disappearing slowly, turning into colourful and sunny mirage behind.

I feel calm and confident now. What’s that – forgotten or never known? I have no reason to run. And no wish. I’m here already, in the best place in the world.

Port of Ustica

In several hours we were on place. The island was completely different from touristic Vulcano that we visited before. We anchored not far from a beautiful lighthouse that is on photo at the beginning of the post.

The small idilic island is just 9 km across. Taxi driver Pippo took us to the town. I haven’t been to many places like this one. Clean streets, white houses, terassas with awesome view on the marina. And flowers, flowers, flowers…

By scooters we explored the island. Beautiful, beautiful!  Despite complains of Leo and David, we all climbed the hill and were regarded with another incredible view.

I don’t remember names of a lighthouse or a town. But the usland is so small that you can walk around it. The amazing place is a square – close to the marina, with restaurant on a terasse. All houses on this square are ornated with pictures.

Beautiful portrait on the wall of the restaurant
For whom does he waiting for? Probably, you : )

We met the sunset in a warm and fun circle. Cristiano’s friends from the boat “La Palapa” joined us for a party with beers and brq. We danced, swam naked and played music (the drum was a 5 liters beer can – and yes, I loved it! Miss my djembe)). And the night was beautiful.

That day was a perfect day. The island is a real paradase. I couldn’t expect in overcrowded Europe. So, please, my friends, don’t tell too many people about it – let it stay a paradise : )

Vagabond - my small world

Chapter 3: on board of “Vagabond”

After sleepless night in a bus (8-hours drive) we arrived to Reggio Calaria, a town on a continental side of Messina channel.

The bus ride was tiring but not useless. The road goes along the coast, and the coast of Southern Italy is incredible. Rocky cliffs, hills, covered with olive trees and vines, blue Mediterranean sea and plenty of multilevel coastal towns, settled in bays and harbours.

Ferry to Messina – and I’m on Sicily! So close to the aim of my bus journey, the town Taormina, where the boat “Vagabond” was waiting for me. And here’s a point, where my plan starts to be useless.

First I missed the stop in Messina. The next one was in more than an hour drive, in Catania. The point, where I realised the fact of a missed stop,  was a turn to Taormina that we passed. HERE I remembered that I needed to hop off in Messina. “Well, lets look around. Not every day on Sicilia”, – I finally decided. And have a relaxing ride to Catania, admiring landscapes of the island.

Taormina - view from a high point

In Catania we stopped on a bus station, so there was no problem in finding the bus to Taormina. If the previous bus was typically touristic (very good bus, by the way – clean, with smily drivers and even snacks and drinks served. The company is called “Interbus – Ibus”, here’s the link. The ticket from Roma to Messina costs 32 euros, ferry is included), the bus Catania-Taormina was typically public. People attacted it, seiged and took with a battle. Happily, poor driver was able to hide in his seat in proper time.

The public was diverse: Africans, Arabs and a few Italians. There were many sellers with their goods, so I worried a bit for  my bag, which was in a lugguage section. On every stop people opened it to take their numerous things.

The ride was fun: I talked to my neighbour from Bangladesh and watched the scenery through the window.  The result of my unattentiveness:  I was late to Taormina for four hours.

Taormina is a resort town, not far from Etna volcano. I could see it from a distance, with an smoke above its head. The town has three bays with beaches and anchorage for yachts. I ended up on the top of the hill, on a bus station. While going through a winding road up, I saw several yachts, anchored near the rock.

Funny thing was that about the boat I didn’t know anything, except the name of the yacht and the first name of the captain. With this poor information I ended up on a beach.

I asked Rescue service, and they told me that haven’t seen the boat with the name “Vagabond” in the nearest bay. They I rushed to the diving school – but they didn’t know anything useful for me. Finally, I decided to find a restaurant with the internet, write an email to the captain Cristiano and wait.

The waiter, whom I asked about WiFi, spoke English very slightly. But he spoke French! Not perfect but better than me – italian. I explained a situation to him. Probably, because of my desperate face or just his kind nature , but he gave me his notebook with mobile connection to the net.  At the same time, another guy from a restaurant tried to help me, calling to stations all over Taormina and asking about “Vagabond”. Finally, he found some guys, who saw a boat with this name.

Meanwhile, I wrote an e-mail to Cris  and – oh miracle! – he called me in a minute! We were lucky to get the connection, and soon a white dinghy brought me on board the yacht. Chapter 3 of my journey has started…

Vulcano, one of Ionian islands

I’m in Palermo now, the capital of Sicily. The city that I would never want to leave. Yesterday we spent several hours trying to find internet. Today we can’t hire a car.

I can forgive everything – car, internet – but not lack of air. Despite it’s on an island, stetched far along the coast, it’s so dusty here…

Tomorrow we’re leaving to an island Ustica in Tyrrhenian sea. Just 9 km across. Can’t wait to leave Palermo.

A song for the genuis

Of course, I visited Vatican.

St.Paul's cathedral in Vatican

That was successful only after the second attempt. The first try failed: it had appeared that, to enter the main cathedral of all Catholics, I need to have my shoulders necesarrily covered. As a fully unreligious person, I forgot about it. But – thanks to hellish hitch-hiking from the border to Rome that saved me some time – I had three days in Rome, so I decided to return tomorrow and prepared. By the way, if you’re restricted in time, you can buy a kerchief right near the guarded entrance to the Saint-Paul cathedral. They are ordered by local illegal sellers. The price of the question is 5 euros.

St.Paul's cathedral

St.Paul’s is huuuuuge! The biggest cathedra I’ve ever been. Very-very rich – tons of gold, sculptury, paintings, various attributes for religious stuff. Made of gold, as you understand. Unintentionally start to remember all “filthy” stories about Pope’s circle and Catholic church itself and scandalous “Decameron” by Bocacco. With such a power and wealth it couldn’t be different way: human nature. I just don’t like double-facing.

I don't know what was necessary to think about, while touching this man's foot. I made a wish : )

Huge line was to the colonnade of cathedral. I don’t know what special of it – you can have a view on a city from Piazza di Spagnia, another touristic place. It’s a church on a hill, to which a beautiful staircase leads.

Piazza di Spagna

If to walk a little bit further and the the left, you’ll find yourself in a huge park Villa Borgese, with museums, art galleries in it. That was the place, where me and Lusiano spent the last night in Rome, when we decided to leave the apartment of his friends. We left our backpacks on a bus station of Tiburtine (from there was a departure of my bus to Sicilia)– 5 euros per 24 hours. In the park we camped in the middle of the lawn, just in sleeping bags. Night was warm, sleep was deep, and even park cleaners, runners and dog owners with their pets didn’t bother us in the morning.

Pieta - Michelangelo's masterpiece in St.Paul's cathedral

But I’m back to Vatican. The line to the “border” of Vatican took about 20 minutes. Could be less if to come later, at 16-17  o’clock. Like we did on the first day – and didn’t wait at all. There’s no need to cover shoulders , if you are not going to visit the cathedral.

The third wonder of Rome for me is the museum of Vatican. The most expensive museum I’ve ever visited – 15 euros. But ib this price the visit to Sistina capella is included – and that makes it worth it.

Laokoon - remember the myths of Troyan war

Vatican museum’s collection is much smaller than collections of Hermitage and Louvre. It will take you a couple of hours to see all. If you do not spend 30 minutes in Capella Sistina, as I did. Michelangelo’s creation turns upside down. This statement is very subjective, because not all people are so sensitive to art of Renuissance and interested in it. So I speak only for myself.

Michelangelo’s human being are so different from classical canons of the church. His man is strong, physically and mentally. It’s a manifestation of human nature.

It’s prohibited to male photos in Capella. Plenty of guards with frequent “Tssss!” make useless attempts to establish silence.

Another wonder of the museum is Loges di Rafaello. Actually, they were just started by genius artists and finished by his pupils after his death.

Paintings cover several rooms that were used by Pope’s court.

Being rich, be rich in everything : ) dream instruments complect of any worker.

Wonders of the Ancient city

In each city I visit I search for something that I call – “hummer hit”. These’re architectural masterpieces that are stunning, beautiful and unique. In Rome I found a couple. They are touristic but worth visitng Rome from any point of the world.

Fontana du Trevi

Fontana du Trevi

Statues of the Fontana du Trevi step right out of an old mansion. Rocks look like a countinuation of a house itself.  I knew that we were close to this wonder, not seeing the square yet: the noise of the stream is heard from a big distance.

No matter, is it a daytime or the middle of the night, you’ll always find people around. Dozen of guards look after excited tourists, who try from time to time to dive into turquos water, or at least leave some dirt from their feet. The pool is full of coins “to be back”.

Fontana du Trevi at night

Ponte di Sant’Angelo

Ponte di Sant'Angelo

Another wonder of Roma that made my heart tremble is a bridge. Several angels statues ornate it. Ponte di Sant Angelo is a real piece of art.

Sculptures are amazing, showing gentle beauty of angels’ appearance. Each of them carry his own message to people: it’s written in Latin below each of figures. Those, who do not read in Latin, can try to guess from attributes that angels carry.

The bridge leads to the entrance of Fort Sant Angelo.

Fort St.Angelo

 Sistine Chapel – to be continued…

Another wonder – the prefect creation of a genius. I’ll write more about it in a post about Vatican.


City of thousand streams

Il Colosseo, or Coliseum

Rome counts not centuries but thousands of years. I guess, in theory – sums that are necessary to restore all the historic buildings of the Ancient city, it’s possible to built a new city.

Roma has only two metro lines. More romans just can’t afford not damaging an enomous historic layer. Archeological excavations  all over the cityis a feature of modern Rome.

Rome is extremely hot in summer. Small compensation for hot weather is public water. You can find it in Rome almost everywhere, at least if to speak about touristic centre. Small fountains and pots of various shapes, forms and architecture. Mostly preserved from previous centuries, they still frankly do their job. Near the Colosseo (or simply Coliseum, as it is known all over the world) we even stood in a line for a while to make a shot. Actually, being in Italy I wanted to drink all the time.  Not really pleasant feeling but finally I got used to it.

Lusiano near the historic public water spot not far from Vatican

Cats is another famous feature of Rome. But we haven’t seen many of these fluffy creatures: just several on streets. One was also noticed on a place of archeological excavation. Moreover, they established a charity project for cats and put a stand with their photos near the historic spot.

This is a parking in the centre of Rome. Wish I would have such a house : )

Anyway, all cats are scary of people in Rome. For me, who miss her cats dearly, that was a great dissapointment. Dream about hugging something fluffy and murmuring : )

Skipper and Lusien - my dear cats