Friday, August 31, 2018

Aeolian Island Excursion August 17th

Friday morning we set our alarms as it was the one day we had something planned. We wanted to do some sort of excursion and most were Tuesdays or Wednesday’s and neither would work. We found this one that ran Friday and booked it. I was a little distraught given how tired we were Thursday evening. But after a full night’s rest it wasn’t bad. Sitting on the boat typing this up thinking how much we spent traveling and moving. Cars, planes, busses, train, and now a boat. Haha. But it’s fun! We can rest when we get home 😁 

You can read about the Aeolian Islands here on wikipedia. In Italian they are called the Eoli Islands

We woke up and walked the main street of Cefalu down to where our bus was going to pick us up. It was about a 10 minute walk so we allowed plenty of time because we wanted to find a café. We found a busy little café next to our pick up spot and got to espressos. It’s funny how they order at the bar and they just stand there and drink there espresso quickly because there’s no to go cups really. They also keep their pastries well just standing in the middle of the entryway. I love how they set the saucer and spoon in front of you at the bar while they turn around to make the espresso shot.

It was about a 30-45 minute bus ride over to the port. They had a few more stops to pick people up before arrived to where we'd board the boat.

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The boat ride was pretty uneventful, it was a double decker boat although the top didn’t have much space. We sat on the bottom because we have learned in previous trips that the top can be pretty choppy. And it was already pretty full by the time we got on. There weren't two seats together but we were close. Thomas did good on the boat he slept on Kyle most of the way there. We took an hour and 45 minute boat ride to the first island of Lipari.

I loved seeing the bridges back on the island of Sicily from afar:

I went up to the top to get a better view and get some photos that weren't through the dirty window glass.

As we neared the Lipari port area I went back up to get a few more photos. That is Vulcano with the gas/smoke coming off the top. 
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Getting off the boat


That's the boat we were on:

Once we arrived we did a van tour that drove us around the island. It was a small eight seater Mercedes van that had good views. Our driver spoke Italian and the English speaking tour guide was also with us so we got both captions. They pointed out this bushy plant which we were wondering why they were telling us about it. Then later we realize they were telling us about the caper plant and there were some for sale at a little booth at one of the look out points. 

The roads were pretty tight as you can see here, people had to move over onto the tiny 'sidewalk'

We stopped at two look outs which had amazing views. This was the first: 

The land to the right is connected to what we are standing on which is the island of Lipari. The land farther off in the distance is the island of Vulcano. 
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You can see Vulcano better here, and the smoke coming off the top. 
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Thomas enjoyed the van ride, before falling alseep :-)

At the very opposite end of the Lipari island at our second stop there was a little shop that have a special wine tasting of this sweet wine that is made on the island. At this Lookout point we could see all the other island except for Vulcano which was behind us at this point. 

In this photo straight ahead closest on the right is the island of Salina. Then moving to the left in the distance you can see one of the twin islands: Filicudi and just to the left of that one is it's twin Alicudi. 

Then looking out the other way from the same spot as above you can see two faint islands. The closer one is Panarea and the distant one is Stromboli. There were additional excursions that went to all of these islands, but would take much longer than we had available.

We got back in the van and drove around the other side looking at the views. 

The tour guide was talking about how it never rains on the island and all the plants have to grow without water. We’re not sure how it’s possible that there is absolutely no rain on the island. 

Neither of us remember what this is... but they must have pointed it out because I took a photo of it.

This was like a little rock quarry of pumice. She mentioned how it would fall of into the sea and make the water shiny. "look down there, do you see the water sparkle?" we both looked and agreed we saw no sparkling water, lol.

Crooked photo as we drove on by, but do you see sparkly water?

Back around the island you can view the city, which is where we were headed.

They dropped us back off at the port part of town and we have an hour and a half left before the boat left. We stopped at a restaurant and had lunch which ended up being our favorite lunch at the whole trip. We had pasta to start as a first course and then we had a grilled squid as a main dish. The squid was softer and had more flavor than the squid we’ve eaten at home. They even had a high chair for Thomas. 

The delicious squid:

After we ate we just walked in the vicinity because it was almost time to load our boat. We picked up some sunscreen because we realize we forgot ours back in Kansas City in the van. And since we have been walking outside in the bright sun we didn’t want to get burnt. There was quite the mark up for sunscreen on the island, but we needed it for the next stop. We did walk up a hill to a church before getting back on the boat.

The boat ride was a quick 15 minutes over to the other island of Vulcano

The main two attractions on Vulcano are 1) the sulfur bath and 2) hiking up to the crater. We were really wanting to hike to the crater but it was a very hot day and the English tour guide was strongly disapproving of hiking up there with the baby. Although you know how we are and will take our babies everywhere, I decided to stay back with the baby and Kyle for the hike himself. 

First they walked us through this walkway to view the sulfur bath. The strong was VERY VERY strong and you could see the gas from the sulfur coming out from holes in the rocks. 

Here are the people bathing in it. They provided showers to wash off afterwards or you would stink for three days.

We stopped to get some water for Kyle to take up the mountain with him. 

It was a 45 minute hike up in a 45 minute down although Kyle was booking it and made it in about 30 minutes. We walked with him a little ways and then parted when the shade stopped. I got this photo where we parted so you can see the mountain he climbed. You see that slash line to the right of the top of the ridge? That was the walkway people were climbing. 
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Here is a zoomed in picture so you can see the people climbing to the crater. 
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This is Kyle's photo about the same spot I shot up above. 

He thought it was funny to see this sign on the path to the way to to the top...

Another zoomed in to see the TINY people. 
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Kyle made it to the top and here was his view! 

Looking into the crater. He is standing on a hela-pad that was up there. 

You can see the sulfur gas to the right of this panorama. He had tried to walk over across it but it was way to hot and started to burn his legs. It was really windy up there which probably helped it to not smell as bad as the sulfur bath area.

Here's a better picture of the gas emitting from the top. The same gas you could see in the photos from Lipari at a distance. People had gone down into the crater and written words with rocks.

Then his trip back down:

While he was up doing his hike Thomas and I walked around the shops, he slept on me and it was so hot that day I was drenched in sweat. I found a gelato shop to sit in the air-conditioning and use their free Wi-Fi. Then I saw Kyle passing by before we headed to the boat. 

That was about all we did on that island, we got back on the boat for the two hour ride back to. 

We enjoyed some espresso on the boat and Thomas was awake the entire time but we were able to spread out to have a little bit of room to roam. There were bathrooms on the boat but they were so disgusting I don’t know if it was water from the toilet that had squash all around the room or people just could not get their pee into the toilet, but it was pretty disgusting. 

View of the bridges again as we approached Sicily. 
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We arrived back to Cefalu to board the shuttle bus to take us back to the center of town. There was a lot of traffic so they took the long way around town it was pretty crazy seeing this ginormous charter bus on these tiny streets that were windie and turny. It wasn’t until about 8 o’clock we got back to our apartment.

View of La Rocca from the port side.

On the charter bus

Tired Thomas

We took a different walk back to our apartment. This was less touristy, a little longer but fun to see some more of the town. This road also took us down to the beach.

Where we arrived JUST in time to catch the sunset quickly.

We got back to our apartment and showered and then went to Piazza Duomo, Which was the main little plaza area in the middle of town. It was the center of where everyone was staying and we were lucky that it was only like 100 yards from our apartment. We met up with Patty, Patrick, Anthony, Katie, and a few others. 

They had already been there but we were hungry so I ordered a sampler platter per Katie’s recommendation. It had a sampling of things Sicily is known for. Caponta is the eggplant dish in the middle, fried chickpea things called panelle and crocche, a salami and provolone cheese and bruschetta.  And we also got the pizza. 

We had tiramisu for dessert too!

Thomas was wide awake at this point but the cousins had fun pushing him around the plaza and letting him walk and wonder. There was an entertainer that does things right outside the Cathedral. There is a DJ and an acrobat doing juggling. Thomas liked to clap for them. Patty pushed Thomas around in the stroller for quite a while trying to get him to sleep but he was just too enthralled with everything that was going on. She said she even took him into a quiet art studio to look at paintings.

Patrick sharing deep thoughts with Thomas. They had a special bond, both being fourth babies. :)

Kyle also tried to push him around to get him to conk out but didn't have luck either. Kyle walked down to the water with him where he saw a band playing out on the stone walkway.

Anthony had been living in Rome for the past year teaching English. He told us about this festival that had just taken place the few days before we arrived. Ferragosto is a public holiday celebrated on August 15th. It coincides with the major Catholic feast of the Assumption of Mary. He said people would stay up all night long to celebrate and there were lights all over town. That is what these lights were left over from. And you will also see the many many light set ups in Tusa when I get to the blog post from the wedding ceremony, which happened on Monday.  

We got home and threw in a quick load of laundry. Not sure what all these cycles meant... I just went with rapido because well I knew it was the quick cycle and I was ready for bed so I didn't want to wait very long. There are no dryers there, which is why you see all the laundry hanging from the balconies. We had a drying rack in our room and the washer was so tiny it was no biggie because it wasn't like we could wash that many clothes at once anyway.

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