N 41° 44' E 02° 06'
June 23, 2008
[ JOURNALENTRY BY MOLLY ]
We toured Sicily after Malta, and were there for over a week. Pazolla, Noto, Siracusa/Ortygia, Catania, Palermo/Monreale and Trapani. Sicily is beautiful in the central farm country, and there certainly is plenty of stunning baroque architecture in the cities, but the crowded streets, the TRAFFIC (that you are forced to walk in due to small old sidewalks that are constantly blocked with construction, cars or the ever-present motos), the noise and especially the dirty, trashy aspect of the whole place was a put-off. We’ve found that in countries with no rain, i.e. Malta/Gozo and Sicily, nothing is ever cleaned off. And they do throw their garbage wherever they please, don’t they? We are missing green spaces and trees, but we are in lands of no water. As the cities progressed, so did the cleanliness – Trapani was downright civilized with wide, clear, CLEAN street and alleys – we thought we were in the wrong country! The nicest place, though, was Monreale, with the stunning Cattedral de Monreale, built by King William II to top the mosaic’d cathedrals of his grandfather Roger II (they were Normans). William succeeded in building a true world heritage work of art - there is nothing else like it. Completed in 1182, the sophistication of the elaborate mosiacs, which cover nearly every surface in the cathedral, defies any perception I may have had about centuries old artists. You must look it up online and view some of the bible-story depictions for yourself – it’s hardly believable how beautiful it is. While we were there, a Sicilian wedding took place – lovely. We dined in Monreale in a terraced restaurant with a fantastic view over Palermo, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Ahhhh, cold vino bianche.
We are now in Spain – and happy to be on the last part of our journey. We miss home! Spain is beautiful, and much, much greener than either Malta or Sicily. Despite the fact that we’re in the northeast part of the country, the driest part, there are plenty of trees (huge sycamores) to shade us and keep us happy. We’ve hardly seen shade so this is a treat!
We happened to luck out at an "airport hotel" as Girona was booked up due to a music festival. Wheat called and got us a room for the night (after flying in at 10pm) and they sent a shuttle. Well, we walked in to a 3-week old resort hotel (for the price of a Days Inn, if you will) - totally unexpected. We got a beautiful room with bathroom, gleaming marble and tile, a fabulous pool and a spa area that was crazy fancy, plus they were playing the Euro Cup in the bar. Needless to say, Molly was a happy happy girl after all that grueling travel every day and lugging luggage every night. Wheat treated me to two nights there, and we spent the entire Monday laying by the pool in loungers under umbrellas, reading, doing a Int’l Herald Tribune crossword and availing ourselves of the spa room. That was a room with a special pool, filled with spa jets, special waterfall and massaging et al showerheads, stainless steel bubble jet recliners, plus a jacuzzi with regular jets and these bizarre overhead jet showerheads for your neck and head. We spent a couple of hours in that puppy! It was amazing to have a day of rest and not be on our feet – we’ve been walking long hours everyday on concrete and our bodies (especially Molly’s) have pretty much revolted. Last night we enjoyed an incredible buffet there with Spanish specialities . Afterward, we watched Spain beat Italy in the Euro Cup semifinals on the flat screen tv in our room with white wine in an ice bucket. What a lovely and surprising break! (Plus, Pat was kind enough to send a video of our dogs, so we were happy to see them and have a great internet connection there. We listened to WWOZ new orleans as we hotel searched on the net.)
Tuesday (today) we bussed into Girona and caught a train to Figueres. We are pursuing the home and musuem of Salvador Dali in Figures and Port Ligat, Spain. The countryside was filled with huge fields of sunflowers – so beautiful (more Van Gogh than Dali at this point). The train was a pleasant 40 minutes and we’re at a terrific little hotel in Figures (www. hotelangeles.com, I think – the Los Angeles Hotel). Again, Wheat spoils me with bathroom en suite, and the bidet is a great place to store our ice bucket with a bottle of cava (local Spanish champage) that we are now enjoying. Sweat away, ice bucket, the bidet does not fear you! We look forward to our visit to the already astonishing (on the outside) Museo Dali tomorrow morning, then off to Cadaques. And more cava, no doubt. Here’s to Spain – a civilized country!