2 aussies, 1 wedding, 1 van, 3 months... what have we done?

2 aussies, 1 wedding, 45 aussie guests, 3 months, 1 wicked campervan. Oh dear...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Our sunny moon


 
My sister-in-law sent me a message on facebook to wish me a happy honeymoon and to remind me that most women only go with one man on their honeymoon. I had opted to take my husband, three mates and my new sister in law with me on our road trip honeymoon. After being with so many friends and family for the past few weeks I have to admit I wasn't ready to be on our own yet (besides we have 40 days of wicked camper fun ahead of us!) and so we all met in the town of Amalfi to start our convoy of love slowly down the coast to finish in Sicily for a few days.

The first leg of the journey saw the three boys in one car and myself, Turk and sis-in-law in the other. Turk having driven in Italy now for about a month led the boys around all the sharp turns and narrow streets that snake around the Amalfi coast. Squizzy, the driver of the second car, said to us later that there were a few close calls for him and that he was ready to call it quits! Nothing can really prepare you for the craziness that is the Amalfi coast! Turk, my hero, does it with nerves of steel but I'm sure some times even he's a little concerned, how could you not be with just centimeters in front of you for you to navigate your hire car round a bend with a bus staring straight at you and a sheer drop into the water on the other side!

The spectacular Tropea
Our first stop was in a place called Tropea in the region of Calabria. This was our little overnight rest stop on our way to Sicily. Tropea is a spectacular town especially from the beach looking up. The town is built right on the cliffs and rises way up above you. These types of architectural feats always leave me wondering how they did it back in the day not to mention how many people died in the construction of these towns.

 

 Not only is the water in Tropea crystal clear and gorgeous shades of blue and emerald but the beach has beautiful white sand which is a very welcome change from the pebble beaches that have you almost falling over as you try to quickly exit the water without stubbing your toe on a giant rock! Not the most elegant of exits I'll admit but the Italians seem to have mastered it whilst us Aussies look like were walking on hot coals.

We prefer to not book accommodation when we travel but rather see what fun places we find along the way. I was starting to regret this idea after driving around for about 20 mins with no hotel in sight and realising that 6 of us actually had to agree on the hotel and more importantly the price.
A sailor went to sea, sea, sea...

So as we turned the corner and headed towards il mare (the ocean) I held my breath hoping wed find something some what acceptable. I neednt have worried though at the bottom of the giant cliffs and right on the beach was a hotel that even included 3 course dinner and breakfast all for 50 euro each! I had forgotten that when you holiday in a beach side town in Italy they still offer full and half boards. The hotel had a bar right on the beach where we enjoyed beers whilst watching the sunset over the volcanic island of Stromboli which is the most active volcano in Italy (the second being Etna in Sicily) and a constant  stream of white smoke visible from the volcano added to the magic of the setting!


 The next breath holding moment is of course the quality of this meal but again I neednt have worried we enjoyed a delicious local pasta made from eggplants, chilli and tomatoes followed by a fish (i think the boys had some other meat dish) with a smorgasboard of vegetable side dishes and some fruit and ice-cream. All washed down with a gorgeous bottle of local rose.

 

 

 
Next saw us arrive in Cefalu on the north coast of Sicily. Another fabulous find off the beaten track. We had to catch the ferry from Reggio Calabria to Messina then drive about 180km west to the coast of the Tyrrhenain Sea in the region of Palermo to find this beautiful seaside town.

Beautiful Cefalu
 We again found a fabulous hotel right on the beach, although this time we said no the included dinner, which meant that we were able to enjoy a wander through the old town at night and sit down in the piazza opposite the Cathedral of Cefalu which is almost 900 years old and enjoy a dinner of local seafood including fritto misto (fried seafood) and swordfish although one of us may have consumed a beef lasagne (although it was claimed to be for research purposes!).
Dinner with the gang in Cefalu

Gelati was the perfect way to end the meal on the stroll back to our hotel.

 

 

Isola Bella
View from our hotel
Next stop on our Sicilia road trip was Taormina, this time we did book some accomodation (as we were staying a few nights) and our hotel was directly opposite the beautiful little Island called isola Bella (quite literally beautiful Island). Two of our travellers had the smallest rooms known to man, pretty much the size of my luggage, but the view they had of Isola Bella made up for it! The hotel was directly on the beach however the city of Taormina is up on the hill that overlooks the beach so it meant that every night we headed up in a cable cart to the old town which on more than one occasion I thought we were going to get stuck on the way up but as with most things in Italy it just worked!
Enjoying a stroll in Taormina

Does this make my mouth look big?

One of the most memorable dinners was at Don Ciccios, just to the side of the Piazza Duomo. It was the delicious smell that came wafting out of the restaurant that seduced us into pulling up a table outside. Ill admit that when we were given adult size bibs I was a little concerned that wed stumbled into a themed sizzler type of restaurant. Thankfully our meals could not have been further from this.
 


 I had a recommended rich pasta with squid ink and pieces of calamari that melted in your mouth whilst Turk enjoyed what hes claimed as the best Spaghetti Lo Scoglio (which means that rock but otherwise known as pasta Marinara) hes ever eaten with more seafood than delicious al dente pasta, another member of the honeymoon gang enjoyed little pillows of gnocchi (which was actually made by hand) with a fresh and aromatic basil and tomato sauce. All washed down with a gorgeous bottle of white wine. As we left the restaurant we told the waitress wed be back tomorrow night for our final meal but of course, the restaurant was closed on, wait for it Wednesdays. Just as with most things in Italy its these odd little idiosyncrasies that make it so unique and so fabulous and Sicily is no exception to the rule.
 
After a month of travelling with friends or family it was time for Turk and I to try our hand at travelling on our own again and it was getting terribly closer to us picking up the dreaded wicked van. Let the real honeymoon begin!