Saturday, December 15, 2007

My week with our First Guest Ever...

My new friend, G, arrived last Saturday. I say my "new" friend, because actually I had never met her before, until we picked her up at the Catania airport. She is my mom's friend's daughter, and when my mom had told me that G was taking a Eurotrip, I told her she could definitely stop by our place here in Sicily. I was excited to help G out, to give her another stop on her trip, especially to Sicily, where there is so much history all around. But I was also excited for myself because I knew that having a guest would force me out of my routine and comfort zone, which it did.

On Sunday, Tony and I took G to Niscemi, the town near where Tony works. There was supposedly a culture festival, (that Tony swore he'd seen a poster for) but when we arrived in town, nothing out of the usual was going on. So we stopped at Bar Fortuna where our friend C works, and even he said, "An event? On Sunday? No way!!" and just laughed. So we enjoyed tea and cappucini. Afterwards, we went in search of food, but weren't able to find anything open. So we had to run to Tony's work to eat his stocked up frozen veg food, and whatever chips and such that we could find.

After leaving there, we had decided to go to Agrigento to see the Valley of the Temples, but after realizing what time it was (almost 4:30) we knew we wouldn't get there in time before it closed. So, we went to nearby Caltagirone instead. We found Scale di Santa Maria del Monte, which is a set of stairs with 142 steps tiled with hand painted tiles (no two are alike.) They had a nativity scene set up, so it was a very pretty sight. In the piazza there was some sort of Christmas celebration going on with live music and tables set up by people selling things, or looking for donations for their charity work. We went inside a building that turned out to be an art & culture center, and as our luck would have it, a Pupi show was scheduled for 5:30. So we stayed and people watched until the show began. Afterwards, we headed home as we were all cold and tired of walking around, up, and down the hills of Caltagirone.
Scale di Santa Maria del Monte
Two Pupi Fighting
On Monday, after getting G set up with a base pass, we headed out to Catania for a little sightseeing. We took G to see Elephant Square, the church, and our friend T even showed us a Greek theater that Tony and I had never seen before. It got dark fast though, and I needed to study for my accounting final, so that trip was cut short.
Part of the Church:
It was so pretty with the sun setting.
The back of the Greek Theater with city buildings and traffic all around.
Tuesday, I took my final early in the morning, which went pretty well. (I ended the class with a 93!!!) After I got back home, we decided on our first day trip with me as the driver and tour guide. We decided on Syracusa, which I wasn't nervous about much, since I had driven there before. The drive was nice, since it was filled with welcomed conversation. When we arrived in Syracusa, we followed the signs to the Greek Theater, and were not disappointed with it. It was beautiful, and soooo awesome to see. I was so in awe of the theater and of the surroundings, it was truly breathtaking. Right next to the theater is an archaeological park with the Ear of Dionysius. The pictures I had seen of this cave do not do it justice (mine don't either.) This cave is amazing! It's huge, and it's shape is so interesting, and from the inside looks like an upside down cavern. It was amazing! The surroundings were so peaceful, with the garden/orchard like setting with the quarry in the background. It was a nice relaxing walk.

After that, we headed to the Papyrus museum, which ended up being closed. So we decided to head out to Ortygia Island. Driving there was a little tight, roads were so narrow, but we eventually found a parking space. We walked the whole island in probably about an hour. We found the Fonte Arethusa, the Duomo, and the Papyrus tree that grows behind the Aquario. We enjoyed the walk and G really loved the sea side scenery in this town.
At the Greek Theater:
The Ear of Dionysius from the outside:
From the inside (see the grown man walking out for perspective on size.)
My favorite picture from the inside:
Duomo at Ortygia Island:
After getting home, we found out that the truckers had gone on strike, and that the gas stations were out of gas!!! And we only had a little over 1/4 of a tank, which would get G to the Catania bus station on Friday, and us back home, but that would be it. I was so disappointed since I thought I wouldn't be able to take her anywhere for the rest of her trip. Wednesday, we ended up making the best of the situation and hung out at Angie's house, watched Because I Said So, snacked on popcorn, and drank some really yummy apple cider. It was a nice afternoon, and G had mentioned that it was so nice to just do something American since she hadn't in 3 months. I hadn't thought of it that way, until she put it like that. I loved G's constant optimism. :)

Thursday morning, my dear husband called me from base to tell me that he had heard that the Esso gas station near our house had received a delivery that morning. So, of course, I raced out the door to check, and when I drove up I was so relieved to see that there was no signs on the gas pumps, and the station was busy.

With a full tank of gas, we headed out for our next day trip: Agrigento. Probably my most favorite place I've been to on the island, yet. I could never get tired of going to Agrigento. It is just so incredible to see the temple ruins. G shared my feelings, I think. It was a perfect day to go, too. Sunny and warm enough to not need a sweater, but not to warm to be uncomfortable with all the walking. There were hardly any people around either (likewise in Syracusa as well,) so we had the whole place to ourselves. We enjoyed it. We were going to stop by Piazza Armerina on the way home, but decided not to, as we were all quite tired.

Friday was G's last day here. I had intended on taking her to the Mineo Market (as Angie and I have been going each Friday lately,) but Tony had scheduled a legal appointment that his work has been on his back about for our normal market time. So, thankfully, Angie (being the wonderful friend she is) took G along with her, since she was still going anyway. So, they got to have fun, while Tony and I sat through gruesome scenarios of our various orders of death, and whose will would end up being used... What a nice start to the day.

After getting home and eating lunch, we headed out to Palermo, where G would be flying out of that night. The main thing we wanted G to see was the Catacombs. When I told her about it, she mentioned seeing a show about it on tv once, but never thought she might see it in person, so I knew she just had to see it. She was definitely a little freaked out I think, but excited at the same time, lol. The same feelings I had the first time I went. It's such a sight, and it makes you wonder why they wanted to preserve their bodies, who these people were, etc. So many thoughts go through your head while you're jumping at catching a corpse's scary expression, or turning and seeing an arm reaching out at you. I wish I had pictures, but no cameras are allowed. :( I really think G liked the catacombs though. She said she was excited to be able to tell her brothers about it. :)

Afterward, we drove around trying to find something to eat. We ended up passing by a huge church, so we decided to park and walk back. It was such a beautiful church to see at night. It was huge! and lit so beautifully. I took a few pictures, but not many came out since it was so dark. I wish I had brought my tripod, then I could have just left the shutter open, and they probably would have come out better. We're definitely going to have to go back. After looking around there, we walked around and found a little pizzeria to eat at, then headed to the airport, and said goodbye to G, our first ever guest here in Sicily.
Part of the Church:
A funny Pic:
G tried to take a pic, but accidentally hit the timer button, so we were waiting, then struck a pose lol :)
I had a blast showing her around, and I really hope she had a good time here.


Angela said...

Great pictures, Sheena! I especially like the one of the Ear of Dionysius (your favorite) and the second one of Agrigento. I'm glad you and G had such a great time!

Emy said...

Make me homesick why dontcha? Wait did I just say homesick? I do miss it. And I miss you guys as well. Cale was happy to see pictures of Carlee.

Sheena said...

A- Thanks! I do like that one, I really liked how it came out.

E- Sorry! :) Sicily misses you guys too! But at least you don't have to put up with strikes anymore! That was a pain this week, but we made the most of it. I hope you guys' transition is going okay. :) And if you ever want to come back for a visit, you can always stay here!

Wilson said...

Heya Kaveri! :) Missed your shadow presence in WoW :( Just dropping by to wish you a very merry christmas and grand new year! May all your WoW sessions be as gank-free as possible :)

For the horde :P

Sheena said...

lol wilson, you crack me up