Relaxing day in Palermo, Sicily

Today was a glorious day to sleep in at the Casa di Amici hostel in Central Palermo.  Claudia at the front desk was extremely helpful and would store our bags and keep my laptop (Tapuach, Hebrew for “apple”) in a safe place.  She even gave us a key  so that we could get back into the hostel later. We headed out into the town with no real goals other than walking, getting a water sample, and eating delicious Italian food. First we headed down the main road, Via Maqueda, to the Four Corners, which is a small square with amazing architecture which divides the city into quadrants.  The symmetry of Italian architecture is beautiful (let’s not think about that leaning Tower of Pisa).

Four Corners Palermo Sicily Italy

From the Four Corners there we turned North and headed towards the water to get a sample. This proved easier than I thought and, although I ended up getting my boots wet in the surf. First time touching the Mediterranean!  I have to say that it was much colder than I expected, although to be fair it WAS December 🙂

Water sample of Mediterranean in Palermo, Sicily Italy

During this time the weather was all crazy like – raining one minute, sunny the next. We had nothing to really accomplish, so we simply wandered around down narrow roads, walked into some stores to look at the food, and sat on steps to enjoy the atmosphere. We stumbled into a market which was similar to where we were 2 days ago, as each quadrant of the city has a market. The funniest thing that we saw was some guy pushing a bunch of live lobsters around in a baby stroller. It was fantastic! I tried to buy an orange, but they wouldn’t sell less than a kilo, so that was disappointing because I didn’t really want 2.2 pounds of oranges. With all that we’ve been eating, you would think we’d be ready to just explode, but we both feel great. We literally eat tablespoons of olive oil with eat meal but I’m sure we aren’t gaining any weight. Its just that the ingredients here are so fresh that food actually seems healthy. In NY, the lobster stroller would probably be quite the health violation but in Italy it seems to be the very picture of healthy eating.

Palermo Sicily Italy - Motos in Market

My quest for food ended at a stand selling fresh panini with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Yum! The man was very nice and forgiving with my terrible Italian and gave us this fried potato thing to sample while we waited. I suppose it was an Italian latke and it sure was delicious. For only €1.50 I had a great panino and we continued on our way. We stopped for a bit to get our bearings and were having a little trouble finding a restaurant, as odd as that sounds. We only seemed to see a sushi place and that certainly wasn’t happening with all the delicious Italian food around! Finally we located a place by the main road where we hoped to get pizza. Unfortunately those plans were foiled when we found out that pizza was not served for lunch in Palermo – boooo! Pizza is a dinner food.  We got a pasta in a red sauce along with calamari and some bread. Everything was great and we continued on our long tour of the city.

As we still had really nothing to see, we ended up going to the Botanical Gardens to take a breather from the streets of Palermo. It was a little pricey in my opinion, €5, but seemed to be worth it once we got in. We were completely alone and just enjoyed being with each other and checking out some cool trees and even a little hut made of wood by a koi pond and a bamboo grove. That was definitely the coolest. December is the off season for sure for the Botanical Garden, and it was overgrown in spots and not too much was blooming, but I think the lack of crowds more than made up for it.  We did get to see some blood oranges growing on trees, and they were absolutely beautiful (and tasty when they are used to make gelato!).

Sicilian blood oranges in Palermo

On the way back to Casa di Amici, Dave bought a belt at a street vendor and I got a cannoli. I certainly made the better call.  This was one of the highlights of the trip and has ruined all future cannoli that I will eat everywhere else forever. The shell was crispy and sweet and the filling was nice and cold and creamy…mmmm….I want another one now.

Eating cannoli in Palermo Sicily Italy

We got back to the hostel with an hour or so to spare. We chilled for a bit and then decided to head out for gelato on our way to the bus to the airport. By this time the main road was completely closed and there were people absolutely everywhere enjoying their Saturday night. The vibe was very cool and it made me very sad to leave this place. We got gelato at a place called Penguino, which ended up being the best by far, and then waited on the curb for the bus. It was strangely right on time and in no time we were at the airport. Well, it seemed like no time because we both fell asleep on the way there. We checked in, got some mediocre pizza and a “meatless” riceball the was filled with prosciutto, yuck (note that in Sicily, they do not consider ham to be meat). From there we breezed through security but then were left to wait in the miserable passport control line. This line sucked. There were 1-2 guys in charged who were taking their sweet time checking passports. Finally it was Dave’s and my turn. He looked through every page of both of our passports, even asking (upon seeing Dave’s Russian visas) if his real name was James Bond. They were really laughing it up back there and ehhh, I was way less upset about waiting in that line. I guess not too much bothers you with such high consumption of cheese, wine, and risotto. This attitude also permeated in boarding the plane. Whereas Ryan Air staff in London had been a bunch of tight-asses with taking carry-ons, these people couldn’t give a shit. We had a delayed yet somewhat enjoyable flight, purchasing overpriced cup o’noodles, and practiced Hebrew and Spanish the whole way. I already can’t wait to go back!

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