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A rushed coach tour of Sicily and along the whole of Italy

How did I get myself into this tour?!?

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Landscape view from Enna

This page is based on a tour through Italy in October 2001. A rather strange tour it was, which I would never do again because the group was really difficult to cope with. But more about that later on. It was my first visit to Sicily and I joined this tour as a trip “for the notebook”, to get an idea of the island and see some places quickly, hoping to return some day - a hope which I am still nourishing.

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Baroque Siracusa

This is going to be an unusual and somewhat superficial report. Since it has been more than 15 years, my memory is dim and I do not have too many details present. So I am telling you about the memories that remained. Those that remain vivid after so many years are the most important memories anyway.

After I got a slide scanner for Christmas, I unearthed two boxes of old slides and started scanning. Apologies for the dust in the pictures, I dusted them carefully (or so I thought) but there is still… **ahem.** Amazing how few photos I took in those times. I have a total of 200 pictures from a 14 day trip – the amount that I now, in the digital era, take in one morning.

We came by coach from Germany and boarded a ferry in Genoa. One day and night was spent on board on an enjoyable mini-cruise, and the following evening we landed in Palermo. We stayed for two nights on the outskirts of Palermo to see Palermo and Monreale. Then we continued south to the temples of Selinunte, and on to Agrigento with more temples. After an overnight in Agrigento we continued to the east coast with a stop at Villa Casale on the way. Our next base was a hotel in Acireale. From there we had a brief visit to Catania, went to Siracusa, halfway up Mount Etna, to Taormina, and on a day trip to the Eolian Islands.

Then we crossed over to the mainland by ferry from Messina and returned home by coach, along the whole length of the “boot” with a couple of stops on the way. Via Paestum we reached Sorrento where we stayed for three nights. One day was spent on Capri, the other combined the Amalfi coast and Pompeii (phew!) Via Assisi and Verona we reached the Alps and then drove home to Germany.

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Ancient temples in Agrigento

The background of this tour needs some explanation, as this is, as you know, not my usual style of travel. It was meant as a tour for our parish community (not where I live now but a different town), organized by our parson. He offered similar tours every year or two and planned them together with the owner of a local coach company he knew well. This was the one and only of his tours that I joined, as his ultra-rushed itineraries were not to my liking. Anyway, this was a chance to see a bit of Sicily. I also knew quite a number of the participants from our parish.
However, and that was the big minus – the parson had previously been working on a military base, and his old mates from the army, mostly retired officers and their wives, filled half the posts in the group just like they did on all his trips, and dominated everything. They set up the rules that everyone else had to follow. Some were nice but many of them were of the We-Know-Everything-Better sort. Young people (i. e. under 50) were a minority in the group – there were four: one couple of new lovers who saw only each other, yours truly, and the bus driver = coach company owner, a really nice guy I got on very well with. (Not what you think, though, nothing romantic.) I more and more turned into his assistant for purposes of organization, since I was the only one in the group who spoke decent Italian and since our dear parson, the group leader, took care of himself and no one else. A problematic constellation altogether. I was glad I could help with stuff like managing the change of unacceptable rooms for a quarter of the group, dealing with the reservations for the ferry to Lipari, finding a bakery and buying bread for 40 people at 5 a.m. in the morning… From my friend the bus driver I learned a lot about the tour business (and came to the conclusion that I’d never want to be a tour guide).

Posted by Kathrin_E 01:20 Archived in Italy Tagged sicilia

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Oh my, yes, I so understand what you mean. I would have freaked out in such a group. And ... am guide now myself. And I can so understand your remarks about our photographing habits in pre-digital age. I will have a similar "problem" when it comes to Patagonia.

by Trekki

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