A Little Bit of Me

Jottings and Writing, miscellanous misgivings

The last of cars, horses and gambling on Sunday

Last time I will bore you with talk of cars. Autosrade. Great, though roads bordering on marginal in places. Speed limit – take you pick. I choose 120 kph but was passed by cars doing easily 160 kph. Views – nil. Roadside stops -nil though Agip truck/car stops in abundance where you can get autogrill (pretty passable fare) but you cant buy guns and knives like you can in USA. But they do have toll booths which proved to be the bane of my life. Fine, if they are working properly. You approach the barried booth when you enter the autostade, get a ticket, stash handily because when you need it you dont want to be fumbling around muttering ‘where did I put that fucking ticket’ while what sounds like the entire population of a small village are angrily honking and yelling at you. But beware, the beggars who grab the ticket and then demand money before they will give it to you. Or beware, the barrier arms mysteriously goes up with no ticket and you innocently drive through only be confronted at the exit point with unmanned booths with barriers firmly locked down and you are stuck on the autostrade. Then the exits. You hand your ticket to a bored, sadistic booth operator who points to the electronic s screen where your toll is displayed (usually 2 – 3 €) and he grumbles when you havent the right change etc. But, some are unmanned and you have got to stick uour ticket in, a price is displayed and a little bucket comes out where you put your money. To bad if you havent the right change as , in my experience, electronic buckets dont do change. Then its pandemonium as you exit your gate as there are usually four lanes converging on one little lane on the exit.
There! I am done. No more cars and roads.
Todays task was to see some of central and downtown Catania. Our mission was to take an organised tour of the main street, the port, the historic part of the city, the old part of the city, the gardens, and a few statues of famous people who wrote music, or fought battles which they usually lost in spectacular fashion (which is why Sicily has so many cultural influences). The tour started at a place called the Duomo but there are so many Duomos (church dome) that we couldn’t find the correct one. We noted it went past the Gardens so we deposited our sweaty selves in the shade and waited the tours arrival. The driver gracefully accepted our money and we got the tour back to the central Piazza (the Duomo) where were told that our half tour had ended. I )for the first time since being in Italy) stared blankly, shrugged my shoulders and stayed firmly in place. Along came an English speaking guide whose english exteneded to ‘THIS TOUR NOT STOP AND GET OFF’. After numerous attempts to shift us they have up, saw the logic of our right to do one circuit and we all became good friends and shook hands when we finally alighted where we had got on. The main street is most unspectacular, lacking in any traffic, and is lined with designer shops and high end bars and ristorante. The port looked interesting with a large fair just packing up for the 1300hr siesta. Lots of funky little alleys full of nice craft and food but the meat stalls had dodgy looking cuts with flies hovering everywhere. Even some horsemeat which I saw on the supermarket, and advertised as a dish in several diners. Must give it a go. The city has some impressive architecture and a lot of it is black larval rock left over from numerous eruptions of Mt Etna. Where we go tomorrow.

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Hisilicon Balong

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