April 5th, 2009

Sea dragon

Travel in Sicily - Catania, day 3

I am reminded today of why we are here for such an extended period of time, and, in fact, of why we are renting a car next weekend. Today has been a day of utter transportation failure, compounded by not having an internet connection. The bus schedules are posted 1) online and 2) at the station. Now, we are near a bus station, but it turns out it is only a bus station for the city buses and one of the intercity lines. The one that does leave from there only had three departures for Taormina today, one at 9, one at 2, and one at 4. The other bus station might have had other departures, but it left from the train station. And could we figure out how to get to the train station, or even read the sign explaining which of the various conditions applied to the departures (ie not on holiday s- though we werent sure if today was a holiday or not - not on weekends - only on school days - only on weekdays - only on weekday holidays ... etc.)? No, I did not understand enough Italian to figure out where the bus stop was that went to the train station. We did finally get there, only to find that while they did have a different schedule, but that by the time we had actually found out where the other bus company had its buses, we had missed the bus (it was around a corner, down the street, and behind a construction site).

The whole reason this was happening was, well, not because we had been planning to go to Taormina, but because the CircumAetna train doesnt run on Sundays. This was not mentioned in any of the four guide books I bought. Fortunately I figured that out before we went to its train station, which is in a totally obscure part of town.

We did wind up having a completely great lunch, once, three hours after we had left the hotel, and after I spent 10 woozy minutes on the bench (WTF with the sense of balance going all sideways), we finally completely and utterly gave up on doing anything today. And all of the stuff in town was closed down, too. Shut tight. Not a museum to see. If only I had known we could have done yesterday completely differently ...

Yesterday, however, was completely rocking. We caught a bus to Siracusa about 10 minutes after we got to the bus station, I managed to NOT get sick on the bus (I am going to have to generally avoid the intercity buses here, something about the curving roads, the dips, and the constant breaking just puts my stomach in my throat), and ... then we had transportation fail to some extent, which meant to get anywhere we walked half an hour. I just could not figure out the city buses in any way, where they picked up or where they went, and we couldnàt find bus information - the listed stops didnàt actually mean anything to us. So it was walk walk walk to Ortygia, then walk walk walk back to the bus stop slash train station (the only place where I could find a toliet in town besides the restaurant we ate at), then walk walk walk to the Greek & Roman ruins at Neapolis, while getting rained on, then walk walk walk back to the train station, discover that the bus we thought we were going to catch was actually a "weekday only" bus (I thought it said "Except holidays," WTF do I know about reading Italian) so we now had a hour and a half wait, then decide to fuck this when we found out that the OTHER bus company had an 830 bus which meant we could go to a puppet show, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was, in fact, the highlight of the weekend, although we did really have some good food.

We got back to Catania at 930, got a glass of wine and a Pirroni, then slept the sleep of the long dead. In fact, our exhaustion is probably a great deal of why we screwed up getting any transport today. And when we finally headed out hoping, if nothing else, to spend some time in the Bellini Gardens, the skies fucking opened on our heads, so we just gave up on seeing ANYTHING today and found a nice dry place to hide. Looks like tonight is going to be a game of Citadels and more reading. Fortunately the Number One Ladies Detective Agency is great, so I expect to be very entertained.

Tomorrow: Palermo! Etna will just have to wait until next year, I guess.