Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sicily

We worked our way westwards through the Greek Islands and stopped at Milos which is the remains of an ancient volcano. Although it had the traditional white washed buildings and blue domed churches we had seen elsewhere, we enjoyed it’s unique personality as we wound our way though it’s historical centre. We stayed for a couple of days, taking in the sights and waiting for the right weather to make our way to Tunisia
Tunisia is on the north coast of Africa about 600 miles due west of Milos. The passage can take 5 to 7 days depending on the weather so we stocked up on fresh fruits and vegetables, popped some French language lessons into our MP3 player (they speak French in Tunisia) and set off when the weather forecast looked good. We continued to download weather updates daily through our SSB radio and on day 3, the forecast took a turn for the worse. On the day we would be passing through the straight between Malta and Sicily, some high winds were forecasted and the weather appeared very unsettled so we decided not to chance it and changed course for Sicily.
We arrived in Sicily just before sunset and dropped anchor in a beautiful, natural harbour off Syracuse. The next morning, the bay was full of sailboats jockeying for position at the start of a race that ran, coincidentally, from Syracruse to Malta . The weather was beautiful in Syracruse when they left but we were curious to know if the weather was as bad as forecasted when they reached Malta. Racing sailors are a different breed anyways. They aren’t having a good time unless the toe rail is under water and they blow out a sail or two (translation: heeled over so far the edge of the deck is in the water and they tear a sail) .
We spent a couple days in Sicily seeing the sights. There are some amazing 5th century BC Greek ruins and we loved the 7th century AD Piazza del Duomo lined with baroque palaces and a cathedral built on ancient ruins featuring a richly painted ceiling.
We set out in search of a real Italian pizza down the narrow alleyways between gorgeous old buildings with wrought iron balconies and overflowing flower boxes. We stepped out of the way of Vespas and Minis and other tiny vehicles as they barely squeezed by and eventually chose a cute little trattoria downtown overlooking the sailboats in the harbour.
After two days, the weather forecast cleared so we will head out again for Tunisia tomorrow. It is only a two day passage now so we are optimistic, this time we will make it.

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