Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Palermo, Day 1


Europe Journal 2013
Day 6, 07-09-13

Were colleges to offer diplomas for frustration, I would surely have earned 6 PhDs by now. Before leaving Sorrento, I went to the Observation Deck, which is wi-fi accessible, and tried to get on line. And tried. And tried. Other people had no problem at all, but I could not do it. I took my laptop to the reception desk to see if they might suggest something. The woman behind the desk did exactly what I had done 22 times, and...voila! I was on line. Knowing not to push my luck, I carried my desktop into the Internet Room, no more than 50 steps away, sat down and the “Log In” page instantly popped up. Tried another 15 times. Back to the reception desk. She again did exactly what I had done 42 times now, and got immediately back on. “Don't close the lid on your computer,” she suggested. “That will disconnect the wi-fi.” So I carried the open laptop awkwardly back to the Internet Room and sat down. The “Log In” window appeared. I gave up.

I am strongly considering not even bothering trying to keep current on postings to facebook and my own sites. I am utterly, totally, completely overwhelmed with taking pictures, going through them to weed out a (very) few I don't want, captioning them, posting them and then having them appear with no captions. Not to mention my frustrations with the infuriatingly sporadic internet service.It's driving me bonkers. Because I since I'm supposedly on vacation, maybe I should concentrate just a bit on the vacation. Sorry...I really planned to post a blog and the current day's photos on the same day. But please keep checking, just in case.

Ok, today: bus at 9:00 for Palermo's cathedral, which has been both a church and a mosque...I don't think it was a synagog, but the rulers of Palermo were amazingly tolerant and there are Jewish elements and influences throughout the structure. Nice photos if you ever get a chance to see them. As we were entering the cathedral, a church lay employee came to the door urging us to “Hurry. Hurry in. Faster.” It turns out they were expecting some sort of protest or demonstration in the area of the church and they did not want to risk any of the protestors getting inside. But they'd reopened the doors by the time we left, so I guess it was all for naught.

We next went to a cloister a couple of blocks away which, having been a convent, was all but bare of ornamentation, but which, like the cathedral, had strong Moorish elements, mainly in the pointed arches.

Back to the ship for lunch...which for me was ½ a bowl of cucumber soup and two bites of a I'm-sure-it-was-delicious vegetable casserole—to me, tragically, it was like everything else I eat: “Eh!”

Every night the room steward puts a piece of chocolate on the guest's pillow. I'd been saving them, and decided to have one just before going to assemble for the 2:15 tour deep into the interior to see the ruins of a temple and amphitheater. Bad idea (the piece of chocolate, that is). Chocolate does not melt in my mouth. I had no water to wash it down. As a result, when it came time to board the bus, I opened my mouth and chocolate drool spilled out all over my shirt. I can think of better ways to make a spectacle of myself. You have no idea how humiliating it is. Everyone was, of course, very solicitous, which didn't do much to alleviate the embarrassment. I managed to wash most of it off, but need to wash the shirt.

Anyway, on to the bus and off for the temple. Were ¾ of the way there when the bus was told to turn around and return to Palermo...lightning from a storm in the area last night had triggered a large fire closing the roads to the site. So back to Palermo.

Several passengers wanted to get off in downtown Palermo to look around, and I wanted to find a store selling laundry detergent to avoid paying the ship $2 each for a pair of socks. Tom, Mike, I, two Englishmen and an Australian got off the bus and they all volunteered to help me find a store. Easier said than done, but after much walking around and asking several times (none of us spoke enough Italian to make ourselves understood) we finally found one, and I got a bottle of detergent much larger than I need, but was glad to have it.

One of the Englishmen, Adrian...one of the very few names I've learned on this trip...had heard of a church he wanted to try to find, and the Australian said he thought he knew where it was, so they decided to go look for it. I myself, after taking a picture of our merry little band, and headed back for the ship. (“Just turn left and keep going. It will take you right to the port” was the advice the guide on the bus had given everyone for finding their way back.

So I headed in that direction and, sure enough, I found the port. However, what the guide had forgotten to mention was that the port is surrounded by iron fencing, with apparently only one unlocked gateway. She did not tell us where that gate might be, and I walked back and forth along the road paralleling the port for a good 25 minutes (even stopping to ask a policeman who spoke no English and seemed more than a little perturbed at being accosted). Finally found it, but not before having to hail a security guard who needed ID before he'd let me in.

Returned to the ship. I do not sweat, but my clothes were damp...apparently from a heavy fog I did not see.

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

The heck with a camera. You need someone to take video footage of your trips, then release a DVD. It does sound like a splendid tour, though.