About Lido di Jesolo
This beach gave us Indians first out of the country an insight into how a beach in a foreign land looks like. From the Venice city centre we boarded a boat bus to Lido. It took us more than an hour to reach. The junk jewellery shop just outside is a must check but for cheaper and good stuff girls must ransack the shops in city centre. Caution : carry your sunscreen. Read More
Lido di Jesolo
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384 Kms from Lido di Jesolo
Stay in Milan, shop in it's famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and indulge in great Italian fare. But for art and architecture lovers, don't forget to visit the following:Read More
Stay in Milan, shop in it's famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and indulge in great Italian fare. But for art and architecture lovers, don't forget to visit the following:
My trip to Lisbon from Milan was originally planned via Brussels, but due to unexpected circumstances, I found myself crossing over all the way from Liege in Wallonia to Ostend-Bruges in Flanders to catch the last seat in the flight to Lisbon. Milan to Brussels to Lisbon became: Milan to Liege + over priced Taxi to train station + Train to North Belgium Ostend-Bruges(with help from a nice friendly local who helped me book the tickets at the station without the intention of scamming me) + Bus to the airport + 2 hour wait with loads of travelers in a little airport. I wont complain much, as not only was I completely refunded for my troubles by Brussels Airlines (Taxi fare + Train tickets + bus ticket), they managed to get me at my final destination comforted with a seat in business class in TAP Airlines (Portuguese Airlines). Travel Blog Confession: Sold to Portugal after business class upgrade My first ever Business class trip after literally covering not just a country but en entire continent. Let me explain my complex trip to Portugal. Milan to Liege (Economic Class Air) Liege Airport to Train station (Taxi) Liege Train station to Ostende Bruge city (Train) Ostende Bruge Train station to Airport (Bus) Ostende Bruge Airport to Lisbon (Upgraded to Business Class Air) Starting from the land where they speak Italian to the land of French speaking Belgium. Next, a train to the Dutch speaking part of Belgium to only end up being spoilt by the best of Portuguese air hospitality. The crew of TAP airlines were obliged to treat me special as a Business class passenger. I wonder if they knew that I was upgraded by the awesome staff in Flanders Ostende Airport. They really did their best that busy day. The funny thing that day was me even attempting a maverick journey like that to travel all across Belgium to catch a flight in time. Vasco Da Gama would be proud of my Travels Vasco Da Gama traveled south reaching below the cape of good hope in South Africa before he reached north east of Africa and then to South India while taking help of the ruler of Malindi (present day Kenya) and the great Arab navigator Ahmed Ibn Majid, to show the explorers the route to India. Mean while , I found myself reaching Liege and taking the help of a cool Arab Taxi driver who helped me quite a bit in realizing that Ostend- Bruges was actually all across the other end of the country and that it would be better and cheaper if I juts took the train from the train station. He did that speaking in French to some one who has a real tough time saying Bonjour and always prefers to say Ciao with a wink. He did try to over price me though and but was quite easily prepared to bring down the amount upon me bargaining like a typical Indian. Our conversation reminiscent of conversation between the great explorers, navigators and sea faring merchants of that time who would often hang around India, Indonesia, Persian gulf or across the sandy beaches of east Africa. A trip to the National Museum in Rome would enlighten me of the historical Roman trade with many Indian ports and beyond that was thriving until the demise of the great empire. Landing in Portugal on a busy weekend night Lisbon had great vibes. I love coastal cities, they are always special. Maybe the influx of people over ages brings all the coolest people over to a coastal port city. Wading through the busy evening streets, we find ourselves in a little street with history written all over it. Our Airbnb hostess invites us to climb up 3 storeys on wooden steps that seemed to belong in one of Vasco Da Gama's old ships. I gasped for my breath as I carried our week long luggage across the tiny wooden steps. Had to climb three floors to finally reach our beautiful little Portuguese apartment. Our Airbnb landlady would further entertain us with an introduction to Lisbon city and Portuguese culture. Like a typical coastal nation citizen, she takes out an old paper map. As she reads out some Portuguese names of the areas around, we get interested and take notes. The next day you would find me jumping in joy around the coast. I was absolutely loving my holiday in a country which helped make Goa fun. Lisbon fever: Love at first sight We took the city sightseeing bus service that would play beautiful fado music while educating us about Lisbon. I was awestruck listening about its glorious history on top of the bus. Walking across Lisbon was great fun. Paradise is sunny weather and regular supply of Codfish Cakes (Pasteis de Bacalhau). Do click on the link to the have a glimpse of this Portuguese delight. I had actually tried it at this very place on the link. The perfect brown fish cutlet is filled with melted cheese and has to be eaten with care. You fall in love instantaneously with Lisbon, while sipping wine on a disposable "I Love Lisbon" wine glass at the Torre de Belem. Strolling across the Bairro Alto or the upper neighborhood/district, you can find the best food at the best price. Just make sure to avoid the tourist traps. By tourist traps, I refer to those unscrupulous businesses that exist all around the world. Usually near the perpetual tourist attractions. Intending to only benefit from a location but not to deliver in terms of value. The rent could be high or the motivation to meet a threshold to have customers may be low. Soon we would find the best places as we dine with old friends in Lisbon. Later we would eat the best frango and wine near the train station at faro completely based on a intuitive hunch. Not always do you enter a place to be completely blown away with the service, quality and value. I discovered loads of trattoria in Italy where you can end up having a really good meal at lunch time at a great price.
Two of the most successful football clubs of Italy – Internazionale FC and AC Milan – still play their home matches in the very same stadium. If you're looking for return on investment on your travelling, this is the perfect place.Famous footballers to have played here: Paolo Maldini, Javier Zanetti, Luiz Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Hernan Crespo, Kaka.Things to do apart from football: Visit the Sforza Castle to check out medieval art treasures. Shop for the best fashion at Galleria Vittorio.Average expenditure per day per head: Rs. 4,500Book the best hotels.Read more about the city.
The best thing that could have happened during an otherwise uneventful summer vacation was our Italian holiday. Though short-lived, those seven days will forever remain etched in our memories. Planned on the spur of a moment, my three boys (the eldest, being my husband) and I eagerly looked forward to visiting Italy – a land of history, romance, wine, pasta and home to the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We booked our tickets on Qatar Airways , applied for our Italian visas which we got in a week’s time and kept counting days and finally hours.Day of travel: Sunday, 3rd July, 2016With the commencement of the summer holidays and Eid Al-Fitr just round the corner, we expected a very crowded airport. But what awaited us there was way beyond our imagination. We boarded our 4:40 flight to Doha at 5:40. Desperately we prayed we wouldn’t miss our 7:00 connection flight to Milan. Unfortunately, the 7 o’ clock flight departed leaving us at Doha. We were rebooked for the afternoon flight and landed at Milan Malpensa International Airport at around 20:40. I've heard that the sun sets late in these European countries but to experience it first hand was indeed ethereal. At 20:40 in Milan, the sun had just begun its official descend.
9 | LAKE Como + SWISS ALPSFly into Milan and hop the train towards George Clooney’s stunning stomping grounds – Lake Como. Not much beats the picture perfect scene of the bright blue lake with pastel lake villages below the snow-capped Alps. For easy train connections, stay in Varenna for a few days but be sure to take the ferry to nearby Bellagio. After gorging on pasta and wine, head north into the Alps to St. Moritz for fantastic hiking in the summer or world-class skiing in the winter.
A city that I have consistently never liked: it’s not rich in art and I am not rich enough for Via della Spiga yet. All that shopping just waiting to be done and I can barely afford the window-watching here. People are smartly dressed which is a pleasant distraction from the ugly post WWII buildings that had all the flamboyance of a finance manager. And the creativity of a blender. Wooh, am on a roll here! My recommendation... Do NOT take a taxi to the airport, unless you booked a hotel right next to it, or are the type who flies charter. My Google Maps kept going on and soon enough I could see the Piemontese appellations on the same screen and Turin was a bare 100 kms away! I almost thought he was kidnapping me and to leave a sommelier stranded on the Nebbiolo wine route did strike me as smirk-worthy. I don’t know how far it was – he said 45 kilometres, I think he meant light years – but I paid a godawful 103 Eu• Nottingham Forest: I missed it this time but a molecular bar that comes up in every conversation must be worth its test tubes and vials. Dario Comini is no small name in the world of mixology so make sure you try something here. Closed on Mondays, which was my reason for not making it. Rita bar on Canigli was a healthy compromise but be there early so you get the tasty aperitivo treats; for come 10pm and they remove it all. And your table looks empty, and now you have to make conversation, and the drinks disappear faster and the bill mounts. En suite, we hit the Mag bar and that was by far one of the best cocktail bars I have ever been to and I do like my mixes. What a shake, what cocktails. I preferred it to the Rita. These guys also have a speakeasy (1930’s) and they have an awesome card; don’t even bother walking upto it. You need to have your name on the list. I didn’t make it. The alcohol-soaked me had to call it a night.ros! So much for not shopping in Milan. The man had already started setting up the credit card machine even before we pulled into t
Next morning, high-speed trains whisk you from Milan to Florence in 2 hours and Rome in 3½ hours from as little as €29, or take a Frecciabianca train to Venice in 2½ hours. Trenitalia is the name of Italy's national train operator, and their premier ETR500 Frecciarossa high-speed trains operate on the main Turin-Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome-Naples route. Frecciarossa is aptly named as it means red arrow, and they can reach upto 300 km/h (186 mph) on Italy's new high-speed lines. There's no point flying between these countries anymore. Rome to Milan now takes only 2 hours 40 minutes by train, Rome to Florence as little as 1 hour 23 minutes, with a restaurant car and adequate provision for the comfort of the travellers. Frecciarossa trains have four classes: Standard (2nd class), Premium (premium 2nd class), Business (1st class) and Executive (premium 1st class). They're all comfortable, the only difference is the inclusion of meals and some facilities. A train has a different kind of an ambience, I think all trains take you back to a simpler time where people aren't really in a hurry to get somewhere anymore. Its less about getting somewhere and more about the journey you take to get there.
184 Kms from Lido di Jesolo
My last destination within Italy was Venice, and I wanted do a brief pit stop somewhere before getting there. So bidding Florence goodbye, I headed for Bologna. Bologna is quite close to Florence and is well connected by train. It was Christmas eve and I didn't have elaborate plans, and Bologna seemed perfect.I lazily walked down the streets and walked into the cathedrals before reaching the foot of the Two Towers - Asinelli and Garisenda. It was quite surprising to learn that the Tower of Asinelli was the tallest leaning tower in Italy, much taller than the tower of Pisa (97 meters as compared to 56 meters).Read More
My last destination within Italy was Venice, and I wanted do a brief pit stop somewhere before getting there. So bidding Florence goodbye, I headed for Bologna. Bologna is quite close to Florence and is well connected by train. It was Christmas eve and I didn't have elaborate plans, and Bologna seemed perfect.I lazily walked down the streets and walked into the cathedrals before reaching the foot of the Two Towers - Asinelli and Garisenda. It was quite surprising to learn that the Tower of Asinelli was the tallest leaning tower in Italy, much taller than the tower of Pisa (97 meters as compared to 56 meters).
The next morning, before leaving for Venice, I walked down to the University of Bologna - the oldest university of the world. Its alumni include Copernicus, Malfighi, Galvani, Marconi, Enzo Ferrari and had Dante Alighieri among others, as faculty.
248 Kms from Lido di Jesolo
(b) When one talks of language barrier, Italy is the first point of reference and in Italy also, the Tuscany Region ranks number 1. Having said that, our maximum encounters with 'Humans of Europe' happened in Tuscany. One such was at a Farmer's market. My mother who is a local food enthusiast, on her own visited the Farmer's Market in Florence and returned with a bag full of local herbs, cheese and fruits. When we asked her how did you communicate with the Farmers (they only speak Italian and Spanish), she matter of fact replied 'With actions'. Also has learnt the recipe of local ravioli just through ACTIONS. The Italian farmers and my mother synced in so well that we had a dinner invite from a local farmer family and mother made made 'Dal Makhani' for them. The food at the dinner was what #foodgasm hashtag is for. The farmer's son who knew English, translated our conversation for them and their conversation for us. At the end, I felt as if I was sitting amongst my big, fat family from Punjab, giggling and laughing away to glory.Read More
(b) When one talks of language barrier, Italy is the first point of reference and in Italy also, the Tuscany Region ranks number 1. Having said that, our maximum encounters with 'Humans of Europe' happened in Tuscany. One such was at a Farmer's market. My mother who is a local food enthusiast, on her own visited the Farmer's Market in Florence and returned with a bag full of local herbs, cheese and fruits. When we asked her how did you communicate with the Farmers (they only speak Italian and Spanish), she matter of fact replied 'With actions'. Also has learnt the recipe of local ravioli just through ACTIONS. The Italian farmers and my mother synced in so well that we had a dinner invite from a local farmer family and mother made made 'Dal Makhani' for them. The food at the dinner was what #foodgasm hashtag is for. The farmer's son who knew English, translated our conversation for them and their conversation for us. At the end, I felt as if I was sitting amongst my big, fat family from Punjab, giggling and laughing away to glory.
The homesickness eventually vanished as I travelled to the other cities. Florence was my next stop, which is a lovely town just four hours away from Rome by train. The hostel here was more like an inn that I booked through AirBNB. I made friends with guys from London and South Africa and am still in touch with them. It is amazing for slightly shy people like me that while travelling alone you are open to striking conversations and getting to know people, but when you have company, you are so comfortable with your companion that you don’t really want to make the extra effort of talking to strangers. Meeting new people transforms your worldview and makes you a totally different person. You no more want to dwell over the petty issues of life, which restricts you from doing so many wonderful things. Moving on, Florence was exceptionally beautiful and well-designed. I did not really spend any time standing in mind numbing queues to see any of the architectural marvels, but spent the days exploring the different parts of the city, climbing hills, and going to nearby villages. Florence falls in the Tuscan region, which is famous for its wineries. I would recommend to pre-book a tour to one of the wineries for a more authentic experience.
Day 09-10: Check out of Hotel Deko Rome. Take train from Rome to Florence. Check in Hotel Lungarno in FlorenceThe best way to see Rome and Florence is on foot. Walk through the myriad lanes and by-lanes, relive the medieval times and and savour the city. Visit colosseum, pantheon, Trevi, hand of truth, Duomo, academia to see David whatever you like; have delicious cheesecake at Babingtons (the best till date); get a caricature/portrait done; do some shopping - leather bags/gloves/belts/masks/perfumes etc.Reserve a day for Vatican, I liked St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican more than Sistine chapel. Make sure to book tickets in advance for Vatican, Colosseum, academia in Florence, Uffizi. Read up a bit on Christianity if u want to enjoy more. Listen to the music artists while watching sunset at one of the bridges in Florence; have Gelato at Vivoli. Cafe dell'oro serves great pasta.
Florence is the birth place of Renaissance, so there is art in every corner, literally. Apart from the Renaissance period art and architecture, Florence is replete with street art.I made my way to Piazza della Signoria. The following photographs provide a glimpse of the magnificent sculptures of Renaissance era which are at display at the Piazza and along the way.
It was time to move on to the next stop on my trip map, Florence. Getting to Florence from Rome is simple, there are trains almost every hour from the Termini station. I took a slow train (3 hours journey time) as it was cheaper and would also allow me to enjoy the Tuscan landscape, not zip past at a breakneck speed.
Florence 3 days Hostel: Ostello del Bigallo Hostels don't get more scenic than Ostello del Bigallo. It is built on a monastery dating back to the 13th century. A beautiful garden upfront and panoramic view of Florence from the terrace adds to its charm. The only catch is that the hostel is an hour's ride from the city and involves a 2 km hike. Hotel: Ginori al Duomo The staff is extremely friendly and its location, a short walk from the train station, is ideal. However, there is no getting around the three story climb as the hotel doesn't have a lift.
Florence/ Firenze The next day, we head out to Florence or Firenze. I’m pretty proud of this segment of our trip since I knew exactly what I wanted to see and when. So, for the Tuscany region our base was Florence. We left Venice fairly early in the morning and were in Florence by 12 noon- checked into our lovely airbnb apartment by 1 pm. We had the whole day to our selves for exploring the city since the next we decided to go in for a day trip to Cinque Terre. We wanted to visit the Uffizi Gallery, but decided to skip the same and instead soak in the city by simply walking around and of course eating yummy food! We did visit the grand Duomo, checked out Piazza Michelango and sat down at the Loggia dei Lanzi and watched the beautiful Piazza della Signoria. Another smart move was to take a pass for a hop-on-hop-off bus. Initially, I thought that it looked a little foolish but trust me; you can do a lot with that bus pass. There are a couple of routes that the bus service has where it takes you through all the must see spots. If you want to get off, great. If you don’t, you can simply keep sitting. We also enjoyed a lovely pizza meal at Piazza Republica– one of the prettiest squares in the city, defined by its opulence.
Day 3: Went back to St. Mark's square and walked through the lanes of Venice, visited the square near Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Castello. Checked out of the hotel and took the water bus from Rialto to the train station for the 1:25PM train to Florence. Checked into Hotel Lombardi at 3PM. We headed to explore the city of Florence, we went towards Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral square), then Piazza Della Signoria which has a replica of David. Headed to Ponte Vecchio, this bridge is famous for the gold shops. Then in order to get a good view of Ponte Vecchio, we headed to Ponte Santa Trinita which is just the next bridge. Then went to a pub chilled for a while and after having a few drinks headed back to the hotel.
375 Kms from Lido di Jesolo
We did try to be careful, but I cannot exactly narrate how it did or must have happened. 15 minutes ago it was there, a few tram stations later it wasn’t.WHAT FOLLOWED?A trip to the police station, registering an FIR, calls to India to block the cards and of course, some panic and worries and moments to grieve over an otherwise while budgeted trip!His passport was with me, hence safe. (So no insurance money for the Gujju lad ???? )WHAT DID WE LEARN?You can be careful, but every thief has his/her day!Always scatter your money and keep while travelling! (I do that, Parichay doesn’t!)Know the contents of your wallet (including the card details)Keep quiet at the police station! ????When you are over this, there is scene 2 as well!SCENE 2- ZAGREB TO DUBROVNIK
185 Kms from Lido di Jesolo
Day 13: Check out of Hotel Castello Vicchiomaggio in Chianti. Take bus/car from Chianti to Florence. Take train from Florence to Verona. Check in Hotel Giulietta e Romeo in Verona. Opera at Arena - Romeo and Juliet was magnificent; get seats closest to the stageRead More
Day 13: Check out of Hotel Castello Vicchiomaggio in Chianti. Take bus/car from Chianti to Florence. Take train from Florence to Verona. Check in Hotel Giulietta e Romeo in Verona. Opera at Arena - Romeo and Juliet was magnificent; get seats closest to the stage
18:00 h. Zurich – Arrival at the shores of Lake Zurich and free time to explore the monumental city centre. Visitors have a choice of Indian, Chinese, Italian and other restaurants in which to dine. Return to hotel about 22 hrs.Total distance: 180kmAlpine scenery in its purest essence.Note : please bring warm clothes and comfortable shoes to climb to the ski resort.09:00 h. Zurich – Departure.10:30 h. Eingelberg – Arrival. The trip includes a ride on the Trubsee cable car to the ski resort. We will continue ascending with the cable car to the top of Mount Titlis.15:00 h. We carry on to Lucerne.15:45 h. Lucerne – Arrival in time to explore one of the most interesting Swiss cities and see the KapellBrück, a covered bridge over the river Reuss, the Town Hall and Square with its Clock Tower and its pedestrian streets and elegant shops. Different options for lunch.18:30 h. Return to Zurich.
We all know a little bit of Verona , thanks to Shakespeare and his epic works specially Romeo and Juliet. I was shocked to know that this city in Veneto has a huge post office which receives letters addressed to Romeo or Juliet from all over the world and it even sends back replies. I saw lovers who go to the Juliet's balcony to make their love eternal. It was nice to know also that this city is a world heritage site. Verona is the place one would like to roam around for the whole day, so while walking here is what is not to be missed:- - Arena di Verona:- this amphitheatre is one of the best preserved structures of its kind. - visit Casa de Julieta:- this is said to be the house of Juliet, i was amazed to see so many peolpe coming from around the world to see the house if a person who never existed. - sceneries of Lake Garda:- this largest lake in Italia is a hot holiday destination.
Verona is often buried in its Romeo & Juliet lore, however the city has much more than a classic romance to offer. Truly shaped under Roman rule, at times it can seem like a younger sister to Rome, especially with the Colosseum-esque Arena in the center of the city. Verona is a beautiful Italian city full of history and amazingly preserved. Explore the city on foot during the day, eat dinner and grab drinks in Piazza dei Signori, and view an open-air opera in the Arena di Verona at night.
This is the city of love; as Shakespeare wrote and the Veronese would like to make you believe; it’s good for sales you see. No point visiting the arena here, it is old but renovation and work makes it appear no older than your local stadium; go instead for an Opera there if you happen to coincide and that should be fun. The Piazzas are pretty (Bra, Erbe) and Juliet’s Balcony is a tick-in-a-box (tickle the boob, if you must). That done, leave! When it comes to important tourist sites Verona is like Pisa – they both have much to offer but you will only want to see the obvious landmarks and that shouldn’t take you more than half a day to get through. In both cities, the shopping is useless, unless you get off on cheap trinkets for the extended family.
217 Kms from Lido di Jesolo
This beach gave us Indians first out of the country an insight into how a beach in a foreign land looks like. From the Venice city centre we boarded a boat bus to Lido. It took us more than an hour to reach. The junk jewellery shop just outside is a must check but for cheaper and good stuff girls must ransack the shops in city centre. Caution : carry your sunscreen.
.June 17th, Terminal 3, Fiumicino Airport, Rome. I landed here a little after 8 am on a Ryanair flight from Palermo and have 7 hours before my 4 pm flight to Colombo. I’ve found a comfortable, quiet spot by a gift shop at this roundabout of humanity to present my last days in Italy. * I woke early and spent a couple of hours on the terrace, writing, before checking out of the hostel at 9.30 am. Ilea was at the front desk and after thanking her for a wonderful stay, walked across town to the bus terminal for the 10.15 am bus to Catania, the first of two legs to Palermo. One hour later I was deposited outside its main bus stand and waited an hour before the second leg, deciding not to venture on a wander of downtown Catania which seemed like a gritty big city with unremarkable architecture where busy folks went hurriedly about their business. The second leg took two hours as the coach cruised west and north on the motorway through the attractive hills of the Sicilian heartland to the island’s Capital on its coast with the Tyrrhenian Sea. Following Andrea’s instructions, I took public bus No. 107 from the railway station situated next to the bus terminal and alighted five stops later at the Roma Poste building on Via Roma. I turned left on Via Bara All’Olivella, walking until Teatro Massimo and around it to leafy Via Volturno, finding ‘A casa di Ami’ on the first floor of the third building on the left. I gathered from the architecture that this was the old quarter of the city and even though at a far superior standard when compared to Indian cities, cleanliness levels weren’t what you’d associate with urban Europe. Nonetheless, spotless Taormina wasn’t a patch on ruddy Palermo and its beguiling flavours where locals and tourists employed public faculties alike, even as a million of the former went about their daily subsistence. I was welcomed by Maria, the manager, who showed me to my bed in a six bed, mixed gender dormitory. The eccentric hostel and my favourite by far, was a converted apartment in a Fascist era building where percussion instruments and other peculiar artefacts were on display along the ochre walls of the common areas. The large luxurious bathroom across the hall came with a tub and that unnecessary waste of space, the bidet. For those of you who aren’t in the know about this silly installation, it’s a low basin on which you sit and appropriately adjust yourself so that the water jet it shoots is received with its full momentum at your exit gate. Some ludicrous versions even have a hot and cold water option. It’s the second part of a two step cleaning process; first the toilet paper procedures on the main commode followed by an uncomfortable shuffle with your pants at your ankles to the bidet for the water jet. God forbid the commode and bidet are located at opposite ends of the bathroom. In that case I guess it’s just best you step out of your pants and inners entirely, lest you trip over your shackled ankles and injure yourself, transbathroom shimmy. I can’t get my head around the idea of rising from the commode half done so unequivocally announce that the Indians got this one right with the health faucet feature though my brother mentioned he was in love with the bidet and wanted to take one back to India. The old quarter of the 2700 year old city with its palaces, piazzas and duomos roughly occupies the urban blocks between the waterfront and Via Papireto from east to west and Via Cavour/Volturno and Corso Vittorio Emmanuelle from north to south, though there is much to see in the modern city that extends far beyond this grid. One of the largest Mediterranean cities, Palermo has throughout the course of its history played a pivotal role in the successes of its ruling regimes, thanks to its strategic location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Changing hands between the Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Normans before being included in the Unified Kingdom of Italy in the nineteenth century, the multiculturally tinged society is awash with these influences in its ethnicities, architecture and cuisine. I put a load of laundry for process in the washing machine and decided to eat lunch while it was being done, exploring the narrow lanes behind Teatro Massimo and finding a restaurant serving Sicilian cuisine, buffet style, but with a difference – only one helping was allowed on two optional plate sizes, small at 5 Euro and large at 8 Euro. I opted for the biggie and noticed the manager watching from the corner of his eye as I stacked my plate a few inches high. Fair is fair boy, these are your rules, but as a result, my first Sicilian meal was a cacophony of tastes with random portions of spicy legumes and vegetable stir fries and coloured curries occupying my cutlery on every dig. I returned to the hostel to put my clothes to dry and spent a few hours indoors, sleeping and writing, before the day cooled a little. The June Solstice is less than a week away so when I departed a little after 7 pm to explore a section of the old quarter, the city was still bathed in bright sunshine. The 14th of June was also the day Italy and England took on each other in their opening World Cup campaigns and the excitement in Palermo was palpable, exponentially ascending as the day wore on. By 6 pm the main streets in the city centre were blocked to traffic as thousands of football crazy Palermitans filled the street-side bars and cafes, drinking and partying in the build up to the midnight kickoff. Maria had informed me that a giant screen was installed at an open space by the marina, so I planned the route of my exploratory expedition in such a manner that I reached the public screening venue at 11 pm. Walking west from the hostel on Via Volturno, I turned left, exploring the maze of by-lanes in the charismatic urban block between Via Volturno and Corso Vittorio Emmanuelle before turning east and passing the impressive Baroque architecture of Quattro Canti at the latter’s intersection with Via Maqueda. Continuing on Corso Vittorio Emmanuelle to Piazza Marina by the waterfront, I followed the waterside broad-walk to Castello a Mare, the screening venue, where the giant screen was part of a carnival with open air food and drink stalls and a live DJ whipping up a frenzy. The music stopped at kickoff as thousands of fans in Azzuri jerseys, painted faces and waving flags ecstatically cheered and clapped every good pass and attacking move and booed and cursed every bad pass and foul. You can imagine the scenes of elation when Marchisio scored for Italy in the 35th minute and the deathly silence that followed when Sturridge equalized a few minutes later. The energy going into the half was that of mild disappointment but at the start of the second half the spectators were back with gusto. All hell broke loose when Balotelli scored in the 50th minute and a mild tremor was recorded in Palermo when the referee blew the final whistle. Like an energetic audience at a rock concert, a jumping sea of blue sung the Italian World Cup song in unison and the streets came to life shortly after with processions of cars blaring horns and waving flags. I returned to the hostel at 2.30 am and fell asleep not long after. * Cefalu, one hour east by train along the coast from Palermo, was a recommended day trip that I took the next day. I was out of the hostel at 9 am and walked the chaotic streets of the Sunday market around narrow Porta Carini, indulging in a pair of shoes (15 Euro) and a haircut (6 Euro). Exploring the lanes off Via Roma, I walked south along it to Palermo Centrale and just about made the 11.10 am Regional for Cefalu, full with young beach goers. The postcard perfect seaside town rests under the aegis of a mighty crag, La Rocca, by the clear blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Fronted by a long sweeping curve of sandy beach, the charming town stretches west from the historic district on a rocky headland to its newer neighbourhoods, the medieval section complete with an old stone seawall, narrow cobblestone alleyways, a harbour and an impressive 12th century Norman era cathedral whose twin bell towers majestically dominate the town’s urban skyline. Arabesque on the outside, the mosaics of Christ and his disciples on the inner walls of the altar are masterpieces of Byzantine art. This is all wonderful but isn’t really why Cefalu is so popular-just an hour from Palermo, the small town swells in numbers during the summer months with tourists from Sicily, Italy and the rest of Europe seeking the beachlife. There were thousands of them sun baking on the sandy shore, not unlike a million penguins in a colony, crammed on an arctic ice shelf. I explored the narrow winding lanes and the impressive Cathedral in the agreeable old quarter, walking as far as the stone seawall along the town’s northern edge on its headland. Just below and outside the wall was a narrow path built over the buffer rocks that I trod on while the sea gently crashed alongside. Taking a long lunch in the shade of a beachfront cafe, I watched as a multitude of Caucasians foolishly surrendered their nice white complexion and following a double gelato, returned to the train station for the 3.15 pm Regional to Palermo. I spent the next few hours at the hostel, sleeping and writing, until the sun became less harsh and embarked on my evening explorations a little after 9 pm. I walked north along the commercial Via Maqueda, past the showrooms of Ferregamo and Bulgari to Teatro Politeama, fronted by the sprawling Piazza Re Ruggero Settimo. Walking east on Via Amari by the posh restaurants until the harbour, I turned right and followed the main road south to the marina and Castello a Mare. The maze of streets behind the marina - Palermo’s principal nightlife venue- was milling with well dressed young people solicited by the succession of bars and restaurants with live music and giant teles screening the football. I stopped for drinks (diet cola) and dinner (antipasti and cheese platter) at one of the establishments showing the France versus Honduras game and was congratulated by a patron when it was over, perhaps assuming I was French. How is that even possible? Between the two don’t I look more Honduran? I was back at the hostel and in bed a little before 1 am. * 16th of June, the last full day of my Italian experience. After 19 days, 10 train segments, 7 regions, 5 hostels, 2 blow-outs, 1 wedding and half a hook-up, it was almost the end. Speaking of hostels, here are my recommendations for smashing hostel etiquette: Leave the bathroom looking, feeling and smelling exactly as you received it- spotless, dry, devoid of personal property and odourless. A helpful tip for the odour predicament is to end your morning routines with a shower. Steam and shower gel do well to neutralize embarrassing smells. If you have to use the bathroom for a major output movement more than once a day then couple every episode with a shower; there is no downside to taking many showers, especially for you hirsute lot. Use toilet paper to wipe the sink and floor dry, and please, for heaven’s sake, dry your sorry underwear elsewhere. Likewise with the kitchen. Wash and dry all the utensils and cutlery you use and place them back in their racks. If you buy food from outside that needs to be stored in the refrigerator then don’t be jackass and label your name on it, it’s food, it’s to be shared. However, don’t also be a jackass and consume any food a bigger jackass has labelled for himself. Smile and be courteous even though many lodgers are not. Nonetheless, approach being friendly with caution, refraining from pursing conversation when the opposite side shows disinterest. You’ll know this instantly. Listen to music through headphones if the other boarders in your vicinity are asleep and be mindful of silencing morning alarms as soon as they go off. For some reason Wendy had a 5 am alarm that managed to wake all the dorm residents but her. Marco, who returned late every night following his kitchen duties, used to be livid. If you feel the need to release a gaseous build up from your bowels then this is what you do: run out of the hostel premises and into the mountain range in the neighbouring district and look around. If you’re sufficiently satisfied that there isn’t a soul in sight then calmly execute its liberation. Just like they do in their own personal spaces, most female boarders dress comfortably at hostels and this entails loose, minimal clothing. I know it’s the tendency for any male worth his salt to want to take note of skimpily dressed women, but gentlemen, do not stare, nay even look, under any circumstances, at female hostel guests as they go about their activities. Slyly put cun if you have to. Oh yes, and fellows, be cognisant of morning wood and take appropriate action. Right. On the ancient sea route between Greece and North Africa, the city of Akragas was established by Greek settlers in 582 B.C. Described by the Greek poet Pindar as “the most beautiful city built by mortals”, it rapidly rose in prosperity and importance to become one of the most important colonies of Magna Graecia. The current archaeological site of the ancient sprawling metropolis is located by the city of Agrigento on the south west coast of Sicily, two hours by train from the Capital. In accordance with the tumultuous history of the region, the city was the possession of a succession of empires until Sicily was adopted by plebiscite into the Unified Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Agrigento lies perched on an expansive ridge by the edge of a plateau with superlative views of the Mediterranean Sea. However, apart from the town’s visually delightful old quarter straddled around picturesque Via Athenea and its medieval architecture, the remainder of the modern town is an uninspiring cluster of boring concrete buildings. I had also read in the Rough Guide that this was one of Sicily’s poorest regions and therefore a stronghold of the Mafia and with that knowledge debated if every white male with dark hair and sunglasses was a Cosa Nostra operative. Arriving a little after 10.30 am, I first explored the medieval section stretching west and uphill along Via Athenea before taking a bus to the site of the ruined Greek city a few kilometres away, the largest such archaeological area in the world. The main road divides the expansive location into an east and west section and if you’re really a Greek freak you’ll need a few days to explore both sides in detail. For the instant gratification brigade there’s the Valle de Templi or the Valley of the Temples (entry 13 Euro), a part of the ancient Akragas site on its southern boundary and its poster boy. This series of seven Doric style temples in varied states of ruin can be seen in several hours, but if you can’t be buggered to do even that, then just explore the eastern side of the temple series of which the Temple of Concordia is the jewel in the crown. This temple, dedicated to the Greek goddess of harmony, was built between 440 and 430 B.C. and is the best preserved specimen of ancient Greek architecture in the world, owing its excellent state of preservation to its conversion to a Catholic church in the 6th century A.D. The deserted beach town of San Leone at the edge of Europe and 4 kilometres south from the Akragas site was where I took lunch at a restaurant by the sandy, rather dirty and unattractive beach before taking a public bus back to Agrigento Centrale and the 5.15 pm Regional to Palermo. I spent the remainder of the day at the hostel, writing with my legs up on the couch in the common area, extremely tired after the long, hot day. With the 4.15 am airport shuttle for my 6.55 am flight to Rome originating from Teatro Politeama, a 20 minute walk away, it was lights out for me at midnight. * Immigration and security procedures completed, I’m seated by Gate 7 as UL582 is being prepared for the nine hour flight to Colombo. I’ve decided to splurge on my last lunch in Italy at a posh restaurant, excellently located with a panoramic view of Fiumicino Airport’s two intersecting runways. I also notice that the restaurant employs a very hot waitress.