Almost a year later and I’m finally finished my travel posts on the places we visited over our year abroad, this will be the last until we get to travel again! The blog has been the best souvenir we could have brought back for ourselves, it’s a living memory of the adventures we had and I’m a little sad it’s all done. I do have a few ideas for some additional posts; ‘what it costs to travel for a year’, ‘what to pack for a year of travel and all 4 seasons’, ‘how to plan a long trip’, ‘how to travel cheaply by housesitting’….so stay tuned.
We ended our trip in Palermo, Sicily for five days before flying to London and then back to Calgary, wrapping up this incredible year at our most exotic locale to date.
After leaving Cefalu in the morning we drove along the coast to the northeast tip of Sicily for our stay in the city of Milazzo, Sicily. At first, we were a bit underwhelmed with the industrial look of the city and its busy commercial port but once we dug a little deeper we fell in love with this less notable Sicilian town. It is however known as a great base to explore the Aeolian Islands with daily cruises leaving from its downtown port everyday but there is so much more to be had here.
Good Morning Sicily! We awoke from our first night in Campofelice di Rocella and it was already getting hot early in the morning, we were having a spell of high 30’s/low 40’s but luckily our bedroom had air-conditioning or we would have melted. We couldn’t even leave the windows open at night because we were surrounded by orchards and all kinds of creepy crawlies that would try to make their way in despite having screens on some of the windows. Janet would spray the perimeters each night with insecticide and in the morning I’d have to sweep the carcasses away before she got up so she wouldn’t see what was trying to bunk down with us. If she saw the bodies she’d be screaming all the way to the nearest Hilton and that wouldn’t be good for our budget.
We spent an incredible month, actually 5 weeks slow traveling around the entire island of Sicily. We had a lot of time so it was a real luxury to be able to pace ourselves, to dig deep into the Sicilian culture, to see the whole island, to live like a local and truly experience a lot of what it had to offer.
Our Slovenian adventure had come to an end and now we were excited to start the last leg of our 10-month odyssey in the south of Italy on the island of Sicily. At the crack of dawn, we dropped dad off at the airport in Ljubljana for his journey home and continued towards Venice, Italy where we would return our rental car and board a 2 ½ Hr flight for Palermo, Sicily.
Catching up on blog posts from over a month ago…Slovenia and Sicily to come. Leaving Florence and arriving by train we were back in Venice with our kids. It was much warmer than when we last visited in February during Carnivale but no less crowded and already feeling a little overwhelmed with the mobs of tourists and heat surrounding the city.
After a few days in Naples we were on the move again for our ‘rinse and repeat’ tour of Italy with the kids boarding another FrecciaRosa high speed train for a few days in Rome. This was our fourth time in the eternal city and we were just as excited to be backat our favorite city in the world, just like visiting an old familiar friend.
The day after Caserta we left our apartment in Naples and caught the train to Napoli Centrale (also confusingly referred to as Girabaldi), it’s central train station where we bought tickets for the Circumvesuviana line to Pompeii.
Back to getting caught up on my blog posts: so I last left off with Sandra and Vyse leaving us and heading for Paris while the kids had just joined us in Naples.
The next day we made a last-minute decision to hop on the train and head to Caserta to visit the Royal Palace. It was about an hour train ride out of Naples, a scenic, relatively quiet and relaxing journey. We had left a bit late in the day so we were on a rushed tour but in retrospect we would have planned to spend a whole day here as it was astounding!
On our last day in Vico we did a day trip into Sorrento for some sightseeing and shopping that was enjoyed by all. The weather was outstanding, we had lots of variety from walking through the beautiful grounds of a hotel/villa to sampling local foods and shopping for souvenirs. We were looking at Sorrento as a place to base ourselves for touring the Amalfi Coastbut picked Vico, it seems to be downplayed on sites like TripAdvisor but all of us really enjoyed it. We returned with the kids to Sorrento on our itinerary with them, we spent the day at a beach club and some sight seeing. They also really enjoyed spending the day in Sorrento. Here is a link to the Sorrento, photo gallery.
Next on our spreadsheet of plans was a driving tour of the Amalfi coast and Vyse was back at the helm navigating us along the tricky, twists and turns on one track roads hugging the cliffs of Amalfi. Our first stop was to the town of Ravello where we were blessed with the last parking spot in the lot closest to the town.
Our few days in Rome quickly came to an end and we were off to Naples via the high-speed train on a pleasant journey traveling to the south of Italy. As soon as we arrived in Naples we knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore surrounded by the noise, smells, crowds and chaos that is the fiber of this busy city! We rented a car and I was so thankful that Vyse had elected to do all the driving as it was nuts navigating this city, honking, swearing, swerving, breaking…..and that’s just getting out of the parking lot! There are no rules, it’s a free for all and a big game of chicken when driving in this part of Italy. The four of us with all our luggage jammed into our little rental looked like a comical frat prank on how much can you cram in.
We’ve done and seen so much in the month of June, on the go every day that I’m just starting to get caught up on my blog entries. We had been intensively traveling with our besties from Calgary (Vyse and Sandra) who joined us for 10 days in Rome, Naples and the Amalfi Coast, then our kids came out and we rinsed and repeated. Overlapping with the kids my dad came out to show us his native land of Slovenia. We spent 6 days with him and the kids, then Janet and I drove them to Venice where they started their journey home. We returned to Slovenia and spent another 10 days with dad, a few days ago we dropped him off at the airport in Ljubljana and drove back to Venice where we hopped on a plane for Palermo, Sicily.
Bologna definitely left us spellbound and bewitched, I can’t shake it out of my head with a yearning to return like a homesick child. It’s a modern metropolitan city but at the same time you feel like you’ve been dropped into one of Shakespeare’s Italian plays; Romeo and Juliet, Othello or a Midsummers Night Dream. Its architecture is medieval grandeur at its best that will have you spinning trying to see everything around you in 360 degrees. It’s a little rough around the edges, beautiful and boisterous, raw and gritty but elegant and grand. Try as I might to describe it you’ll just have to come see for yourself one day, if you’ve been you’ll know what I mean.