Location: Sicily, Italy
We had another full today. We woke up early to catch the excursion “Taste of Sicily: Mount Etna and Taormina”. Admittedly we were only interested in seeing Mt Etna, but this excursion was the closest thing to getting us to the top of the volcano. We should also point out that this was our first tour in nearly two weeks that not involve the cats/cruise companions.
We boarded a tour bus to Taormina. The drive on the highway was uneventful enough until we got off the highway and started up the cliffs towards the town. The switchbacks were very tight and not built with tour buses in mind. Our driver had to honk before every turn to alert potential drivers coming the other way. Usually it worked, but one driver ignored the warning and nearly hit our bus on one turn. A collision did not occur.
The town itself was built above the coast up on a cliff. We had a short stay, which mostly consisted of window shopping. Taormina had a small road lined with high-end boutiques next to low-end tourist crap shops. It seems like every tourist city in Europe has one of these. We also ran into Rachel’s parents and the Barons while in town during our free-time. They were on a different shopping excursion. While in town we also picked up an early lunch. Ryan found a place that had calzones. It was the easily the best calzone we ever had.
Next we made our journey up the volcano in the bus. More switch-back fun ensued. We learned about the many times the volcano destroyed or devastated towns on the island. Despite the frequent destructions, the area near the top of the volcano was built up with restaurants, hotels, and tourist stores. The bus stopped at one restaurant for free cannolis and had the opportunity to get a larger meal, buy souvenirs and pay to use the bathroom. We spent an hour there, and were told that we didn’t have enough time to take the cable car to the top of the volcano. We spent most of that time walking around the lava-rock areas near the building and photographing a fox cub who happened by.
The last part of the tour took us to a different part of the volcano where we could walk around a cinder cone crater. We took lots of pictures and rock samples.
The drive back to port in Catania was uneventful.
Tonight was formal night, so once again we classed the ship up. Some of the other passengers did too.
Tomorrow we make port in Salerno near Naples. We are climbing Vesuvius and then touring Pompeii.
Total Steps: 12,521