Apr 29, 2007

My Sicily island vacation



Cefalú city, and this curious art piece i saw around...i took a pic that will help me inspiring me later on a new art work!! :)


Cefalú city. The central area. One of my fav cities of the whole island.


Erice castle view.

My Sicily island journey in 2002 -- Italy
I'm back from my vacation in the Italian island of Sicily!! Despite i'd good time there; It's so nice being back home!! I enjoyed myself in Sicily, where i spent 1 week with my cousin Fati, but the trip wasn't as good as expected!! To b really sincere!! There were some aspects i didn't like... i'll give u + detalis later on. Our depart was on 24th August, and we're back home on the 31st August. We had 2 take 2 flights 2 reach Sicily's capital: Palermo city. (Porto 2 Milan, and Milan 2 Palermo) What a waste & boring time... and mainly because it was such a short distance we were flying and taking 2 flights sounds so stupid!! The best time was when being in the airport shopping!! Ehhh Plus, i'd the chance 2 b in the flights's windows in both flights when returning home and the views were just terrific!! That was super 2!! I'll try 2 tell u as much as possible... but i've 2 cut donw some details... unless u want 2 spent 1 full day reading my trip's report!! Do u?! Also sorry 4 my english that sometimes is a bit poor!! I keep trying 2 improve it though!
Ok, let's go: Our trip consisted on a tour all over Sicily island. That tour was by bus, and it was all settled down here in Portugal. We wanted 2 do an extention of 1 more day in Palermo city, but we had no chances...we found no flight 2 do so!! We arrived in Palermo on the 24th August at about 7.15pm. There was a van waiting 4 us in the airport. There were about 7 Portuguese persons at that flight that joined us in the same tour. Then there were other 3 Portuguese coming from Lisbon (travelling in other flight) who joined us there 2...and all the others tourists who joined in our Sicily tour were from many places like: USA, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Spain and even 3 Japanese persons 2. It was an interesting group, but being a 48 persons group u can guess why there were so many aspects i hated in the tour!! Can u imagine...?!?? We spent over 3 hours per day ONLY 4 the 2 main meals... buying tickets 2 enter each museum or archaelogical site was another 30 minutes wait ...going 2 toillets another 15 minutes... each time we were visiting a place, the guides had 2 speak 2 languages (English & Spanish), so we were wasting twice the time 2 see each place!! And inside our bus??!! Boy.. u won't believe... despite we had gr8 air condioned bus, the bus was so bind, not only it had 50 seats for 48 persons, all the bus places were pretty small size!! Can u believe that when i put my plastic water bottle in the front's seat bag, my knee were touching the front seat when i had 2 get up?!!? Boy...i was so patientless after some days inside that tiny and stupid bus!! I even couldn't incline my seat!! I wanted 2, but with that small size seats, each time i inclined my seat, the person being back 2 me, wouldn't b having space 4 anything!!! Sometimes i did, and i was always catch 4 somebody who did complaint about that 2 the tour guide!! And i was badly needing 2 relax my column and neck that were killing me like crazy!! ((Last years trip i even had 2 seats 4 myself inside the bus, our group was pretty shorter, and there was only 1 language speaking guide there as well!! It was much easier and faster!! Plus, with only 1 meal included, we also had much + free time... we hadn't 2 b all the time stuck 2 somebody!! I enjoyed last year's trip in almost all aspects! Even seeing 2 cities 4 the 2nd time wasn't "that bad"!!)) Also i disliked having 2 pack my bags almost each night, because in 7 nights we stayed in 4 hotels. However, that wasn't their fault, i already knew that; But indeed was very tyring... each night having 2 put all inside and close bags!!


Etna vulcano. One month before i wsas there (so i took this photo!!),it took place a big eruption here!! How thrilling,ugh??!!


Me at the Cefalú amazing cathedral door. Cefalú city. One of my fav island cities.


Agrigento city, The valley temples.

Our meals were all included, i mean breakfast, lunch and dinner. But no drinks were included. The food was ok, but in the 1st 2 or 3 days we ate PASTA and FISH at all the meals... I was becaming so upset with that!! No salade, no soap...nothing lighter was being given 2 us!! Goshhh!! I had 2 complain 2 the guide... but thanks God, then the food got pretty better and i was able 2 eat ealthy food! I also got surprised that Sicilians do eat so much!!! U can't guess what they eat each main meal: pasta or soap as entrance; then come the 1st plate that can b fish; the 2nd can b meat...and finally the dessert, it can b ice cream, cake or a fruit pieace!) I guess i ate so much all these days...i end up feeling so heavy...i wanted 2 lose some fat...but wans't able at all!! I was like obligated 2 eat all that food... had no other choice...the food was the same 2 all persons!! My cousin loved the food...i always end up joking around how much she enjoyed all the filthiness that was being given!!
One of the things i hated was, like i said above, that all these persons travelling 2gether was making this trip harder. I think they should put us in 2 bus, if possible make 2 languages groups (like 1 spanish speaking group, and 1 english speaking group. For me was fine, i did speak both languages!) 2 easy down a bit things... especcially because also that would b a + confortable and spaciuos bus, and plus we would b ending up losing less time... on the other hand, i wouldn't b talking with so many countries persons...but anyway i think the advantages would b higher with a smaller group!! These Italian guys didn't wanted 2 pay 2 guides, 2 drives, and using 2 buses would b + expensive 4 them... ... so we were all stuck like sardines!! We all were commenting about that as well...and we got so mad, but couldn't b doing anything!! The entire trip was already paid!! That is one of the reasons i don't like that kind of travelling!! Life is complicated & hard sometimes!! It is so hard 2 b a tourist!! People never understand us!! Grrrrrr
But i have 2 tell u that not all was that bad, of course!! Our group was nice + gentle, but some souls were strange or unoportune, especcially the old couple from Portugal... a man called Duro and his wife, both at their 70's. Duro was a man that was making my mind running wild each time he was around! I didn't like the man since the 1st minte, and he was pretty senile 2! Sometimes he was doing some commentaries that i'd 2 shut up if he didn't wanted 2 hear something very umpolite from my mouth!! But once i had 2 tell him some truths, and since that night, he stop teasing me! Cool!! That was because he started 2 talk about all his trips around the world, and talking like if he was richer than us... almost asking us about the money we had...but after all he was such a simple ignorant man... trying 2 b what he wasn't!! When in the airport, nobody would b telling he was that travelled guy, with all that idiot questions we was always doing!! It looked like was his 1st flight!! But all was due 2 his senility, i think!! But i didn't have patience 4 him!! No way!! But my cousin, being always so polite and patient was what he needed, somebody who listen 2 his senility...and she end up getting fed up 2!! But i always end up joking around with the situation!! Then there were 3 Portuguese women (Teresa, Olivia and Fátima), they were at their 40's and 50's... they were funny sometimes, one of them, Teresa, was really terrible, anyway funny sometimes!! Also there was a "silent" couple from Lisbon city, and another guy travelling alone that joined them all the time. From Spain there were about 7 persons; From Uruguay were about 8 woman, and from Chile about 2. I seated at their table twice 2 have our meals, so i end up chating a bit of Spanish 2... it was funny listening 2 some new "spanish" words as well...boy, i'm + used 2 the Spanish from Spain... i like much +! The 3 persons from Japan were very sympha, polite and very warm 2. It was a couple at his 40's, with a 19 years old daughter. The wife was pretty cool, i talked 2 her sometimes, and we had nice chats. From Italy were 4 guys... one of them was Mr. Volante, he was a 72 years old guy, a pretty energic and funny old guy!! But due 2 his jokes and always because he was contesting our main tour guide, Carmelo, sometimes Mr. Volante didn't get the table meals seat he wanted... Carmelo always wanted 2 put him in the places that were lefting...changing him all the time sounded 2 rude 4 most of us!! Carmelo was a man at his 40's; He was funny, but sometimes wasn't that elegant...He was Italian, from Sicily island, that was coming along with us all the entire tour; But in some cities we had another guide.Then there was a woman at his 30's from Korea or China (but i'm not sure!) that sometimes act somewhat strange... we were told she had some friends in Sicily, she was sometimes talking at her mobile with them, or even going 2 dinner out, that way she wasn't with us all the time... also she missed some places visit, but that was her choice, and not our business indeed!! But boy... u can't imagine what kind of stories they were telling about her!!! Even Teresa, that crazy Portuguese woman was calling her prostitute... Teresa was so aggressive, crazy and mad at times, Gosh!!! I talked 2 her twice and she was sympha + educated, i had no complains about her!! Why should i had?! From USA were about 10 persons, whom American accent was making my days brighter!! One of these persons was a woman travelling alone (having her husband and family in USA), she was at her 40's & very sympha, and i end up seated besides her twice!! We chat a lot, and i end up doing some sucess with my english and Spanish!! Ahhh But 2 my sadness, i end up returning home without any of these nice persons contact. But i know it was my fault ...at the last day dinner, i was so exhausted that i returned my hotel room pretty earlier, without even saying bye-bye 2 most of them... i didn't felt like doing so... i haven't that much confidence 2 b exchanging contacts with them either!! It was a pitty also because some of them seemed like being visiting my country soon, or being back 2 Portugal again... but what could i do?!? Forcing a situation like that?! No thank u! Although, weird Teresa gave his contacts 2 my cousin Fati... but Fati didn't gave her any of her contacts!! And she told me she don't pretend 2 call her either!! Ehh


Me on the beautiful & narrow street of Erice city.


Syracuse city main square at sunset time! I love the colors,but this pic come out a bit too dark! :(


Cefalú city beach.

At night we were gossip around all the stories on our trip mates ... it end up being funny!! Most of our nights, me + Fati, we used 2 go 2 sleep at 0.30am... Also, be4 going 2 sleep, i was stuck on TV watching the latest on US tennis open! But at 6.30am we use 2 wake up again. I was always the 1st one of us 2 wake up... it was WC's time!! Upppsssss! Ugh!
The weather wasn't that hot like expected (i mean about 35ºC), but it was sunny and very warm all the time... we got rain almost all days, but were briefs rains. It was cloudy at times! We even got some thunder storms!! Good, we can't complain that much about weather though! We had so much + 2 complain about!! Bahhhhhhh
It was at Jolly hotels chain that we were always staying in. Most hotels were ok, but some were old fashioned or even not central. Palermo city's Jolly hotel wasn't central, and it was an old fashioned one, especcially it's restaurant area!; It's decoration was really old fashioned, but on the other hand,1 of the hotels with bigger rooms!! We certainly needed big rooms... can u imagine opening 2 big suitcases in the room's floor?? Our Agrigento city's Joly hotel was the nicest, it's garden area and outdoor swimming-pool was just amazing!! But the hotel's rooms were pretty small & the TV's room seemed like an extra old TV bought in the 80's or even 70's!!
The real trip details will start now... take a tasty drink and a confortable seat... Are u ready?!:
24th August Like i said above, it was the day 2 take 2 flights 2 reach Palermo city, Sicily's capital. The 1st flight was Porto-Milan, at 12.15pm; then 2nd flight: Milan-Palermo at 5.30pm. We end up arriving in Palermo at 7.10pm. The bus was there waiting and then the driver took us 2 Jolly hotel, in Palermo. Palermo was hot & humid!! It was time 2 get accomodated & go 4 dinner at the hotel's restaurant. Our hotel had an outdoor swimming-pool, but almost nobody saw it... the corridor's curtains were covering the pool... although we don't lost that much!! Then, we went 4 dinner... Gosh... it was when we start getting in touch with the Sicilian food (I thought it was like the food i tasted in the continental Italy!! But it wasn't!! My Godness, Sicilian eat too much!!) That 3 Portuguese women ate the 1st meal with us at the same table. I was slight opening my mouth 2 say something banal, and she "attacked" myself aggressively!! It was when i found out that this woman wasn't easy 2 deal with!! That was confirmed pretty fast! At dinner, i got in touch & taste all that Sicilian food... it included PASTA and FISH ... FISH and PASTA and 4 a change: PASTA and FISH!! After dinner we went 4 a short walk. I called back home from my mobile 2 tell mum i was ok and safe, and so did Fati. We were tired, so we end up in our hotel room relaxing.
25th August Our day started at around 6.15am. I was the 1st one 2 wake up and get ready 4 breakfast! (My fav day's meal!) Like usual, while in the breakfast room, i prepared some bread and toasts 4 the rest of my day; Even having all meals included, i always did the same breakfast routine!! At 8.00am we left the hotel 2 start our bus trip. Our 1st stop was SEGESTA. That included a visit 2 the Doric temple of Segesta, with 36 columns. (Built 430 BC; Amazing, isn't it?!?) It was an interesting visit, despite i found out most entrance fees pretty high: 4.50 Euros!!! My cousin always had a big discount due 2 her teaching card. (She was always paying 2.00 Euros!) It was a pitty we didn't visited the Semicircular theatre, with it's 63 diametre, with a view over the Gulf of Castellammare. Then we drove 2 ERICE. It was an interesting little Medieval city 800 meters above sea level. We got the 1st rain and we had lunch on a typical restaurant, where we arrived almost all wet!! Me + Fati we shared the table with the 2 Spanish guys: father and son. Both were sympha and educated, but we almost didn't spoke. We also visited the Erice's castle (Romantic castle of Norman periode) with such amazing views over Trapani, Egadi islands and the sea. With clear skies we can even see the Tunisian Cape Bom; but we hadn't that chance!! I took heaps of landscapes photos!! Then we end up visiting TRAPANI's salines. I didn't like that much going 2 these salines. I thought it was a waste...i prefered 2 b + time in ERICE. At afternoon we returned 2 the hotel. It was one of the few hotels were we slept 2 nights. It was a nice feeling not having 2 pack our bags.. like most of our following days!! Another dinner in the hotel.(Boy... it was pasta!!!) At 0.30am we were in bed.


Inside Monreale Palatine chapel. Just amazing!!


Messina city cathedral. Peacefull!! :)


Me at a Erice chapel.

26th August Another day waking up at 6.15am. At 7.00am we had 2 have all our bags closed 2 b sent 2 the bus. (We would b spending that night in another hotel.) So, after breakfast, at 8.00am, our driver drove us 2 CEFALÚ. Cefalú is a small fishing town with a nice cathedral (Norman and Arab, with amazing Bizantine mosaics inside!!) and tiny streets that made my day!! I took some photos and bought some postcards & books, like usual. Our lunch was at CAP D'ORLANDO beach city. Boy... our lunch was so boring.. we were seating in a table with 3 men. They all were at their 40's and 50's...two were Italian and one was American... they seemed disinteresting guys! What a boring lunch! We continued our trip 2 TINDARI. After lunch, at our bus, the Argentinian guys seemed crazy, when i would like 2 relax a bit, these guys asked the driver 2 put some music (in very loud sound!) What a nightmare!! There we visited the Citta di Maria, with it's sanctuary on the top of a big hill. From there we had a terrific view over the sea and the famoust "sandy tongues"! They were real sandy formations with the format of tongues, located at the Gulf of Patti. Our trip was continuing 2 MESSINA city. We arrived before dinner, at about 6.00pm. We had a quick visit 2 the central area. It lies at the Peloritani mountains that suffers from earthquakes oftenly. We visited it's cathedral almost all rebuilt after the 1908 earthquake, it still features the Norman-Romanesque style. It has a bell tower with 60 meters with a curious astronomical clock, believed 2 b the world's largest!! Unfortunatelly it was being restored, so i almost had no chances 2 took pictures!!! Then it was time 4 dinner at our Jolly hotel.
27th August Waking up at 6.30am, breakfast at 7.00am and at 8.00am we were leaving the Messina Jolly hotel going into REGGIO DI CALABRIA direction. Reggio di Calabria is located in the continental area of Italy. We took a boat, and it was a 20 minutes trip. In Reggio di Calabria we went 2 visit the archealogical museum of Villa S. Giovanni. I found the museum a bit boring... pretty hot inside and the entrance fee was pretty high (4.50 Euros) 4 a museum that looks like needing remodelations!! Finally we left the museum... we used the only 30 minutes left 2 walk around the city. Me + Fati we were trying 2 do some shopping... all were on sales, but we end up buying nothing!! Most stores we find here in Europe... but i found out some nice bags from Roncato, an Italian brand that in Portugal is a bit expensive. I was almost buying a Roncato bag. By the way, did u ever see any Roncato bag??! They also have terrific suitcases!! (Like the little one my mum use nowadays when travelling! She use a little one, i use a big one!! Why need i 2 travell always so heavy??! Bahhh) Leaving Villa S. Giovanni, back 2 Sicily island. Time 2 drive trough Taormina city!! We arrived there after lunch. Taormina lies at an altitude of 206 meters sea level. It is facing the amazing Etna vulcano. When we reach the town, it started 2 rain... boy, we even got a slight thunderstorm!! We had 2 take small buses 2 drive us 2 the old area. Gosh!! The old area is really beautifull!! We visited the Greek theater that has such an amazing acoustic...even 2day!! It measures 109 meters across, and dates from III BC, but was remodelled by Romans!! Performances of classical plays are given in summer there. Boy... u won't believe that Joaquim Cortés was giving a speatacle there the next day!! I was sad we missed it! I would love 2 see him!! I found it very interesting being in the theatre and seeing it's marvelous views over Naxos. Though i found a bit of bad taste puting all that multicoloured seats in the auditorium!! It looked a bit like a market or so... nothing as historic and imponent as it was supposed 2 b!! (At Siracusa city Greek theater, the auditorium seats were dark grey, and didn't pertubed the views. They were inserted in the landscape pretty sofly!!) I loved Taormina, and it's gorgeous streets full of colour and shopping!! The rich area of Taormina is full of good brand mark stores... with some original decoration stores that made my day!! I enjoyed seeing them, some were really original!! Too bad they all were so expensive. We had dinner in a local restaurant facing sea. It was really well located & romantic!! Our dinner mates were again these 3 boring guys from Italy and USA!! How opportune!! Ehhh At night, we were back 2 Messina Jolly hotel. That was one of my fav days!


28th August Waking up at 6.15am, packing our bags 2 put at 7.00am in our bus. Then breakfast time... at 8.00am we left the hotel. Our next stop would b ETNA VULCANO!! I was anxious 2 see it! Unfortunatelly we only ascended up 1800 meters, and it is 3343 metters high! I was told it's the tallest active vulcano in Europe! A nature wonder! Last year by this time it was erupting!! So many lava i saw from last year's eruption!!! Gr8!! Amazing! Too bad i missed it!! Bahhhh We followed our trip up 2 SIRACUSA! We arrived there around 5.00pm. Siracusa was colonised in 734 BC by Greeks! The famous geometrician Archimedes was born here in 287 BC. We went 2 visit the Greek theater, dating from V BC and it's one of the largest and best preserved theaters of ancient world. It measures 134 meters across. We visited also tthe Roman amphitheater, the famous ear of Dionysius and them we pass through the modern sanctuary of Madonna delle Lacrime. To end the day, we visited the Siracusa's island of Ortigia. I end up my day a bit full of theaters, i must say!! We had some free time before dinner 2 explore a bit + of Siracusa's central area. However, i went 2 relax in our hotel room. Fati, like a real freak, went 2 do some shopping. The hotel room was huge and i was glued on TV watching tennis!! At 8.00pm we went 4 dinner at the Jolly hotel. The food was delicious and this time we shared the table with 2 Argentinian couples. Pretty sympha and interesting!! They were telling us about their trip 2 Japan, it was cool. Plus, i was delighted 2 hear and speak a bit + of spanish!! We were also joking a bit about our Siracusa's guide whom was a gay!! He'd so many tics....boy, that was impressing!! My cousin Fati was great imitating him later on, at the hotel room, that way we had some laughs!! At 0.30am, time 2 sleep.
29th August The same old routine. Wake up at 6.15am, 7.00am sending suitcases 2 the bus, breakfast at 7.30am, and leaving Siracusa at 8.00am. PIAZZA AMERINA would b our next stop. It's located at the province of Enna. We visited the Villa de Casale that dates from III and IV BC. That Thermal complex is full of amazing mosaics, well preserved and it's 2day world heritage!! However, it was a bit hot , and i was losing my patience having 2 circulate with all these persons! Half Italy seemed 2 b there! Bahhhhh After lunch our next stop would b AGRIGENTO. It was hot, hot and hot... even a bit windy, we went 2 visit the Temples valley. We had another guide showing us the area. It was suposed 2 b the best hour 2 take photos there, but we should wait 1 + hour 2 sunset. All the temples were protected, so we weren't able 2 b that close 2 them, like i wanted! Plus, the sun was just in front of us, still a very strong sunligh that damaged most of the views & photos! It was an interesting feeling anyway! But what upsets me was that the area was pretty full of tourists. They seemed like mushrooms!! Grrrrr We end the visit in the shopping around the Temples valley. There i bought a small but very interesting book with a nice map. After that visit, we went back 2 our hotel, it was time 4 dinner. Our hotel there was the nicest of all, it's garden area was amazing, and the swimming-pool made me feel in paradise. But i got no chances 2 swim. On the other hand, the hotel rooms were pretty small... i hated our room!! We'd dinner outdoor, in front of the swimming-pool. The employee were taking ages 2 put the food on tables...we all were getting fed up... and so hungry!! After a while we started 2 eat...suddenly started 2 rain... boy, it was funny, our mate Volante, the famous 72 years old Italian man, started 2 say in a very loud voice "I want my money back!!" We all started 2 laugh, but Carmelo (our guide) hated his attitude, as we weren't alone at that time. (Can u imagine the bad look?!?) Boy, Carmelo treated our mate badly: "Shut up!!", he said. Volante felt pretty bad... it was the subject of the rest of the night... Carmelo shouldn't treat Volante that bad...after all he was joking. Our crazy 3 Portuguese mates, were angry at Carmelo 2...Volante end up crying, it was really bad. It was funny after starting 2 rain... we all run indoors, even didn't ending the meal... it was madly raining!! But there were all the drinks that we let stay in the tables outdoors when started 2 rain... we had no time 2 think of taking them with us... but we had 2 pay them anyway!! Ehhhhhh What a stupid situation! But funny! At 9.30pm it was settle the only night tour we had all our time in Sicily: we would b touring by bus all the temples valley that were all iluminated! Despite it was raining, was really beautiful 2 see the valley with it's temples. Carmelo put some instrumental music in the background, and it was a strong moment seeing these art pieces of history!! We didn't left the bus, nor it did stop, so i had no chances 2 take photos. We're back 2 the hotel room... shower time, relax and sleep.
30th August Well... we left Agrigento, at 8.00am. We're driving into MONREALE direction. Monreale lies about 20 kms far from Palermo. Another hot day. When in Monreale, we got another guide: Marcela. She was a young nice woman, sympha, organizated and eficient! We visited Monreal under another hot day; It was suffocating even after a slight rain. We had a short stop 2 see the amazing Roman style cathedral. It's Bizantine mosaics are very famous and beautiful! We all were supposed 2 visit the Cloister's cathedral (some of our mates did), but we didn't visit the cloister due 2 our lack of time...we had 2 pay 4.50 Euros, and we had 2 see it in a hurry, so me + Fati, we decided 2 invest our money & time seeing a bit + of the city, and also doing some shopping. Of course, i concluded the trip buying about 9 books and 80 postcards!!! Yeah...i know i'm insane!! And believe it or not, i returned home with almost half of the money i was supposed 2 spend! Isn't great!?!? Yeah, u can say i'm insane!! Thanks God i'm! I know! Later on, we returned 2 our hotel in Palermo; Time 4 lunch and put the suitcases in the hotel rooms. Well... they were supposed 2 b already in our hotel rooms, but they weren't!! We end up having 2 collect them from the basement's hotel... that made our depart 2 Palermo being late! But, we didn't care!! We wouldn't b leaving the hotel knowing that our suitcases could b somewhere lost in the hotel's corridors, or even being stealed!! All that big confusion was due 2 the histeric young Sicilian souls that were sleeping in our hotel that night. There was a big music speatacle just in front of our hotel ((A bit like "Operacción Triunfo" made in Spain; Did u hear about that recent famous TV music show??!!) That meant that we wouldn't b able 2 sleep the whole night!! Our last night in Sicily..and we would madly need sleep...we'd 2 wake up at 3.30am 4 the 6.50am flight!! Bahhhhh Well... after some confusion, we left the hotel 2 visit Palermo city! We saw the Normand palace, San Giovanni degli Eremiti church, the Quatro Canti square, Petroria square with it's big fountain that was being restored... 2 bad! (We saw nothing... we saw in the books!) We visited the Cathedral and the Palatine chapel as well. We end the guided visit around 5.30pm... the rest of the day was free, and we stayed in the center. I was always with Fati sightseeing and shopping around.Our hotel's dinner was at 8.00pm. We took a free bus, that collect us at 7.30pm,at Palermo's centre. Ohhhh, Sicilians drivers are crazy!! Boy, the way they park their cars... ... how imaginative!! Looks like jungle!! But the police do nothing! It is like here, i hate!! Well, all the traffic was crazy that evening... all due 2 that music show as i mentioned above. Can u believe that our hotel room was facing the ocean, the show was just in front of us... All the terrible noise killing us!?!?! We went 4 dinner... but since we were may b the last ones 2 arrive there, we end up again sharing the table with that odd old Portuguese couple: senil Duro... he end up asking my cousin if she was missing her students!! (She's a teacher.) Ahhhh How ridiculous!!! This man was a joke!! The dinner was a bit boring... we left it in a hurry and went 4 the hotel room sleeping... would b our last night there...and having 2 wake up at 3.30am... wasn't that funny?!?! At 11.30pm, even with the noisy music, i slept... we woke up at 3.30am. OK... time 2 leave the hotel... take the bus and reach the airport around 5.50am. The breakfast was gave us in a bag at the hotel... what a miserable breakfast: bread from the day b4, butter, toasts (I was full of toasts!)... they didn't put a water bottle, or choculate milk!! In the airport there was no bar opened yet either!! I'd 2 content myself with toasts... again!! (At least it's not pasta or fish! Ehhhh) When in the plane, they gave us again bread with ham, drinks and 2 extra little pizza!! My Godness, we poorly ate in all the Italian flights!! That is how they improved 600% they flights ( i read somewhere), while the Portuguese flights are having loss!! (U would see why if u have a meal in any of the Portuguese flights!! Have u ever had, by the way?!) But i really feel stealed!! Flights are expensive and their food was disgusting!! We'd a stop in Milan, about 2 hours 4 shopping. I found myslef buying Pasta!! Ahhh It's not a joke!! I spent the whole trip complaining about the food!!! But i like pasta... but not 2 times per day, thks!! My mum loves their pasta 2, so i bought 3 packages of pasta. Two 4 mum, one 4 my sis. I bought my fav perfum 2: Acqua di Gió, by Giorgio Armani!! Hummmmm And few + little things. Around 12.15pm we were in Portugal, at Porto airport. My sis, bro-in-law and older niece were there waiting 4 me. My cousin had her father and bro ... time 4 the bye-bye and left the airport. We escaped from kissing the rest of the Portugues mates! (my fav old couple with Duro making my days crazy & wild!! And the 3 crazy women!!) Couldn't b all that good, as i was like obligated 2 have lunch with my family at Matosinhos city. My bro-in-law was working that day there, and since the airport was close 2 this town... then he stayed there working, and my sis drove me home. My sis and niece end up staying here at home the whole afternoon while my bro-in-law was working in Matosinhos. After that long day i was finally at home! Home sweet home!! I was killed, but it was good being home again!! Isn't amazing 2 travel??!! My mum wasn't at home when i was back. She was spending her vacation in Tanzania's island of Zanzibar. She would b returning only on the 6th Sept., so that means i would b spending almost the entire week alone. It was a nice feeling anyway, i love being alone, eventhough i was missing her, of course! Also i would b busy trying 2 b back 2 normal life. I had so many things 2 look after and bills 2 pay. The house 2 clean, and all my clothes 2 wash.
I hope u didn't find boring my trip's report. It was a bit 2 detailled, i guess!!


Syracuse amphitheatre.


Apr 26, 2007

The pics ---- arts & crafts fair







Acá tines las fotos de mi ultima feria de artesania....
Para mas detalles tienes mi otra web:
http://manuworldweb.blogspot.com

Here are the main pics of my last week arts & carfts fair....
For details pls check my other blog:
http://manuworldweb.blogspot.com





Apr 9, 2007

2007 Easter in Madrid


My Easter vacation in Madrid city -- 5th to 8th April 2007


Guadarrama mountain with some snow. That was the view from our car when approaching the city!!
Guadarrama with some snow. Note that we're on Spring!! LOL

Here we're in Madrid city. After a 600 km drive, we arrived at the Spanish capital. It took us about 6 hours…We left Porto city after lunch and we arrived in Madrid just in time for dinner!!! With all these good high ways, it seems closer to b there now!! However, it’s still is a 600km drive!! It was funny using my bro-in-law GPS to arrive in Madrid!


Madrid, Plaza Mayor.




Madrid city.






Prado museum door, Madrid city.



Dark rainy day in Madrid central area.




Madrid city buildings.


The modern mirror of the old buildings.



Madrid, the futuristic buildings area.

I believe u do know about this technology wonder that help u taking a better & faster itinerary to reach a certain City/street/hotel/cinema ... wherever u go. It worked out perfectly, and didn't lost it's satellite anthem communication this time... Ah!
And, as usual, I’m using this old PDA of mine to write in all this trip details… it’s so useful,I save heaps of time indeed!! And when returning back home, I can say I have almost all written this travel tale to send out to my friends & penpals!!





The nighty colors of Madrid.


Palacio Real, Madrid. (Real Palace, Madrid city) Catedral Almudena it's just beside the Real Palace.


Palacio Real, Madrid.


Seems half the world tourists are here in Madrid. I've been several times in Madrid before, but i think my last one was 20 years ago! My God!! Am i that old?!?! We arrived yesterday,thursday, 5th April, and it is freezing here... 2°C as minimum & around 10°C as maximum. WOW We saw heaps of snow in the Guadarrama mountains (Sierra de Guadarrama) yesterday afternoon, just after sunset. It was a huge view from our car when approaching to Madrid city. Today is still freezing & it's raining...this rainfall it's annoying...


We'd some thunder storms! Bahhhh Doesn't seem we're in Spring. Madrid is so much colder that my hometown Porto.


My hotel lobby area. Here i used to read the newspapers.

This hotel we're staying in it's very well located, clean, comfortable and elegant, it’s is called Liabeny hotel.

It is an old hotel, now fully recuperated. But i dislike it's decorating style. Too many golds & Rococo’s 4 my taste. It has a gymnasium inside this hotel... i want to see it later on too....ehehe


The hotel gymnasium. I couldn't resist....i had to put here a pic!! LOL I swear i didn't take my gym suit with me this time!! Ah!!

Our hotel facilities include: Gymnasium, Conference room, Restaurant, Bar... bla..bla..bla... and we have a huge TFT screen with Internet & TV at each bedroom! But all foreign TV channels and the internet access are paid!! I’m so upset…it is not fair!! Even to watch the international channels like CNN, we have to pay extra €… it’s not normal for a 4 stars hotel like this one. Hey, normally these facilities are all included!! Aren’t they?!? I am not expecting to b here watching TV at all…but sometime to look at it when in bed b4 sleeping would b ok… And how about the internet?!? Yeap, I’m doing a break now!! LOL




Madrid center by night.

Thursday, 5th April, after the arrive, we'd a quick dinner in the hotel. I only ate a soup. It was not tasty at all... Bahhhh (Mum I miss ur delicious soups!! Eheheh)
We're 8 persons in our group: me, my mum, my sis, her husband and daughter; and last but not least, my brother-in-law bro and his partner.







Botanical garden, Madrid.

Today, Friday,6th April, the stores are all closed, that way, we can only do some window-shopping... i don't mind at all b'cose i mainly want to see the city & take heaps of photos. And i don't want to spend much of my money!! Eheh I know i'll need it soon. But if i find anything fancy to pamper myself ...who knows??! Why not?!?
At 9.00 am we had breakfast at Star-bucks.(S-B) I never been at any S-B at all…& we have not them in Portugal so far. However I felt a bit frustrated I had to start my day with a big & high caloric Muffin, when a coffee with milk & bread would b much healthier, pleasant and fit in my meals needs right now. Then I was a bit pissed off to pay 2.60 € for a banal coffee with milk there!! Are they fool or what?!?
After the breakfast, we had a long walk to reach our next destination!! We all took the morning to visit the city Botanical garden (BG). I'm not a big fan of those places lately (oh well… it’s a long story!), but i somehow tend to take a lot of photos at every BG’s. Some of these photos come out very light full, original & nice!





Cactus detail, Botanical garden,Madrid.


Coconut tree macro at Botanical garden, Madrid.



Madrid by night.

I'm enjoying the city, but the weather bad conditions doesn't help at all ... Madrid it's a very cosmopolitan city where u find from Spanish to Turkish people. From Indian to Latin American...from 'banal' souls & 'modern style' souls moving around, and even Gothic style ones... I end up feeling i'm so very old-fashioned here!! LOL


Plaza Mayor.


One of the doors to enter Plaza Mayor.

Later on we visited Plaza Mayor.(Big square) This square it's the central area to met everyone at every square corner. This is definitely my favorite Madrid area...so far there are loads of places i haven't visited. The square is beautiful indeed….u can see the photos I’m posting at my website: http://manuworldnews.blogspot.com . I’ll probably post this travel tale there too.


Madrid, Plaza Mayor.


Now it's Saturday, 7th April,9.00 am and here we're having our breakfast. The weather keeps bad, and it's about 8°C. After my usual coffee with milk and a toast here i'm ready for another long day. Seems we'll b shopping today... these girls love shopping!!! I guess i'll go bankrupt!!! LOL El Corte Ingles(ECI) it's opened today (it wasn't yesterday, and it won't b tomorrow), so ECI it's waiting 4 us. Yeah, these are the same chain ECI shopping malls stores i use to talk about sometimes. We've one ECI store pretty close to Porto city...Do u remember i told u about reaching that ECI in 17 minutes??!? (Using that Porto city new metro Yellow line.)

We had to take Madrid Metro line to reach ECI. Madrid metro line it's much older that my city one...i find it quite confusing, but in the end we reach the destination after some kilometers walking ... Good legs warm up & exercise!


Madrid city, the central area.



The modern side of Madrid.

Ohhh boy, here i'm... back to lunch after that ECI shopping... I'm really full of ECI for the coming decade!! I was looking for a new swimming suit 4 my hydro classes, but didn't had my size in that blue color. Always too difficult to find that color & size! I'm wondering why!


San Lorenzo del Escorial, the inside.

8th April,Sunday; Today's our returning day to Porto city. Before returning to Porto, we’re going to visit a very big Monastery at pueblo San Lorenzo del Escorial. (www.sanlorenzoturismo.org)


San Lorenzo del Escorial.


One of the countless San Lorenzo del Escorial beautiful doors.


After having breakfast at 8.00am and packing up all our bags and put in the car, here we go to El Escorial. It is bloody freezing here: 2°C. Boy, what a big monastery. It was ordered to be built around 1561 by the very religious Felipe II King to keep the eternal memory of the Spanish Royal Family. This monastery (Monasterio) has such a nice architecture and many tourists are coming to visit it.


It's Easter,Sunday, and there is starting a mess now... The organs of this huge church are amazing!! What a superb sound!! I finally made my 1st buy!! A book about Madrid! Eh! The city it's a small beautiful one too. We saw an Easter precession in this “pueblo” too. It was interesting!!






San Lorenzo del Escorial monastery area.

This "pueblo" it's 50 km northern of Madrid, and we're driving into northern direction to enter Portugal from the top north side... it's faster.




San Lorenzo del Escorial village. The Holy festivities.




San Lorenzo del Escorial.


The San Lorenzo del Escorial area map.

At about 7.30pm we were back to Porto city. I was supposed to meet in Madrid a new mate –Cecilia-- I met at the website Couch Surfing(CS) (www.couchsurfing.com). Yeah, this CS is that website I use to surf around and where I recently meet cool swappers and few nice pen pals too. Cecilia is a 33 years old woman from Peru. She is now living in Madrid until July, but she wasn’t in Madrid during Easter, so I’d no chances to met there. She will probably be visiting Portugal later on, so there are high chances we’ll meet up soon here in Portugal. We’ll see if she won’t behave like these other CS members had earlier this year!! LOL



San Lorenzo del Escorial village.

I hope u enjoyed my travel tale…it wasn’t very detailed b’cose this is not supposed to be a travel guide. If u want to have a look here are some books and websites I looked in before heading off to Spain.
Books: Lonely Planet edition -“Best of Madrid” & “España Guia Artistica en color” – Edicciones Everest.
Websites: www.patrimonionacional.es , www.metromadrid.es , www.elcorteingles.es ,
www.minimadrid.es , www.descubremadrid.com , www.renfe.es, www.madridcard.com & http://mnartesdecorativas.mcu.es . (...)
Plus, u’ll find more about this travel photos in my Flickr page at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ocean_of_dreams .



In Madrid....

The "Peninsula" shopping mall of Madrid. :) Those who know my home city will know what i'm talking about!! :O)