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One Day Visit to Favignana- Aegadian Island

The Aegadian Islands lie off the Western coast  of Sicily and are comprised of three islands, Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo.

As a prolonged stay certainly offers the visitor a chance to explore a location both by foot as well and as motorized vehicle, if one is short on time a quick one day trip from mainland Sicily is possible to at least the closest of the islands, Favignana.

Last year, while visiting Trapani on the Western Coast of Sicily, I took a one day trip to Favignana and enjoyed its natural beauty.

Easily reachable by hydrofoil, one being the Liberty Lines company operating from Trapani, the ride from Trapani to Favignana took approximately thirty minutes.

Upon arrival on the island, one finds many small businesses catering to visitors and providing options in renting different kinds of vehicles even for a short time.  I chose to rent a car for the day and although I was not quite sure it would get me around as it was in poor condition, I was assured help would be only a quick phone call away!

I drove along the Eastern Coast stopping a few times slong the way at beautiful beaches and then decided to head to Cala Rossa, one of the coastlines I had read about while anticipating the trip.  Cala Rossa is reachable from rugged terrain and one must be confident in scrambling down some rugged rocks to reach the Cala below. I parked my rental on the last unpaved road available before heading to Cala Rossa.

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 After walking that rugged terrain in the heat, finding a small “camp” with refreshments was like seeing an oasis! The owner took pride in making a fabulous sandwich with local flavorful ingredients cultivated and prepared by him: tomatoes, anchovies, capers, basil and oregano. For a hungry traveler who had not brought any food along, that was a pleasant encounter!!!

Finally, before heading back to the harbor to drop off the rental car and catch the hydrofoil back to Trapani, I took a short walk through the town center of the island.

The day trip was very pleasant. On a longer stay, one could certainly enjoy exploring many other spectacular coastlines and “cale” and surely the famous buildings. Those are the Old Tuna Processing Plant and the Villa Florio, both located close to the harbor.

Aeolian Islands – Lipari

Lipari is the largest of the The Aeolian Islands, an archipelago of seven islands off the North Eastern coast of Sicily.  Other Aeolian islands can be found in the Aeolian Islands category in this blog.

The most direct way to reach Lipari is by taking the hydrofoil from the town of Milazzo, on the Northern coast of Sicily.  Hikers can enjoy breathtaking views around the island.  There are hiking trails for different levels and the trails’ maps can be purchased at the book shop on the main street in Lipari named Corso Vittorio Emanuele.

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Corso Vittorio Emanuele which runs into the square where the hydrofoils land.

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Marina Corta – a short walk from Corso Vittorio Emanuele – Some of the boat excursions navigating around the island or to other islands in the archipelago depart from Marina Corta.

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White pomice cliffs

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View of I Faraglioni – Pietra Lunga and Pietra Menalda from the area named Belvedere Quattrocchi

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Fresh seafood meals at this restaurant on Corso Vittorio Emanuele

Malvasia – a dessert wine in Lipari

Steps leading to the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew

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Cathedral of St Bartholomew

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Finally, close to the Cathedral one can visit the Castle of Lipari and the Aeolian Archeological Museum within the Castle’s compound.  The Museum holds a rich collection of Prehistoric Mediterranean artifacts.

Infiorata di Noto 2019

Each year, the Baroque town of Noto, Sicily, holds the Infiorata, Floral Carpet. It is an event in which artists create colorful designs utilizing flower petals. In May 2013, I wrote about the Infiorata held that year in Noto, and at that time the theme was Japan.

This year, 2019, marked the 40th edition of the Infiorata in Noto and the theme was “Vieni ca ti cuntu”, “Storie di Siciliani in America,” “Come, Let Me Tell You..” “Stories of Sicilians living in America.”

The Infiorata is a Springtime celebration which lasts three months, with many cultural and artistic events held during April, May and June. However, the actual display of the fresh flower designs on the street named Via Nicolacci takes place the third weekend in May.

This year, I made it a priority to visit the Infiorata and walk up Via Nicolacci admiring the exquisite work of art displayed on the ground. I had met a dear acquaintance, Gigi, and learned that her son had created the sketch of the first floral picture of this year’s Infiorata, the title,” Il Sogno che Avanza… Icone a Confronto.”

Following are some of the floral pictures displayed at Infiorata 2019. There is a picture of the sign that was hanging next to the work of art, explaining the piece, as well as the floral picture itself.

The first work of floral art was entitled,

“The Dream that Advances… Icons in Comparison.”

In the piece. the Sicilian paladins and the Statue of Liberty are the icons featured to represent Sicily and the USA.

For this first picture, following is also a photo of the creator of the sketch, Flavio Russotto. Flavio’s mother, whom I know, shared this photo of her son photographed while working on his floral sketch.

In addition, following are Flavio Russotto’s own words on the topic:

The next floral picture is entitled,

“Migrations…. The Journey”

“Gaetana Midolo – A Noto Woman in New York.”

In the following floral picture the person featured is Gaetana Midolo, She was originally from the town of Noto and died in the New York fire at the Triangle Shirt Waist Company.

Joe Di Maggio – famous baseball player

Joe Di Maggio

“Lady Gaga”

Liza Minnelli- “New York New York”

“Frank Sinatra – The Voice”

Finally, a view of the entire floral display in Via Nicolacci as seen from above on the rooftop of the Chiesa di Montevergine.

Milford Sound, New Zealand – Natural Beauty and Inspiration

In my twenties, I flew a light four passenger aircraft on a scenic flight above Sicily, but as it was such a bad experience, I promised I would never set foot on a small plane again. I kept that promise for forty years. However, this all changed on March 8, 2019; on that day, I broke my promise and am absolutely delighted to have done so!

While visiting New Zealand and planning a trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound, I had planned to travel by land to Milford Sound, enjoy the natural beauty on the way, driving through lush Fiordland National Park, before sailing through Milford Sound on a catamaran. Although I knew flying back to Queenstown was an option to enjoy the breathtaking views from above, I did not even want to consider that option at first. As I pondered on whether I would consider hanging up my past fears and possibly considering the light aircraft flight back from Milford Sound to Queenstown, I started pondering the option.

In the days preceding the flight, I imagined myself up in air and visualized the whole experience. I told myself there was absolutely no way I could live the fear of those earlier years, but that I was ready to do my best to overcome my fears of the past. I started practicing self help strategies in preparation to the flight as focused breathing and meditation. After much anticipation, the day arrived!

In Queenstown, I boarded a coach traveling by land to Fiordland National Park with opportunities to stop and walk in its forest and be embraced by that lush natural beauty.  I enjoyed plush vegetation, large ferns I had come to love, waterfalls and reflecting water bodies to name a few.

 

 

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Next, I boarded the catamaran that took me through Milford Sound, with its mountains plunging into the outlet, sailing through the narrow outlet and reaching the Tasman Sea. On the way back, the view of the narrow outlet from the opposite angle and a close encounter with the largest waterfall and its refreshing sprays!

 

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Stirling Falls

At last, stepping off the catamaran, I met the pilot and the fellow passengers and walked to the airfield to board the Cessna A8 that would fly me back to Queeenstown. After boarding the light plane and taking off, the much-awaited experience began. Words can hardly explain the emotion felt in embracing an experience I had avoided and feared for most of my life! But the natural beauty that I was admiring enveloped me and I was embraced by the excitement that overcame me as I admired those enchanting views from above. I focused on my breathing and enjoyed. The sun was shining brightly and the mountains diving vertically into the waterway in the narrow outlet with its waters glistening, giving a magical touch to the picture. As we traveled, the mountains seen from above were majestic with the lush vegetation hanging onto them tightly. The flight lasted approximately thirty-five minutes – thirty-five minutes of pure enjoyment. Stepping off the plane I told myself perhaps this would be the first of a series of new experiences for me.

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Reflecting upon this experience I know what allowed me to reach this point. By traveling solo in lands so distant from any land I have lived in or known, little by little I stretched myself beyond my comfort zone. Stretching beyond the comfort zone allowed me to step out and realize what for so long seemed unreachable was just within my reach! Never stop growing!

In conclusion, I would like to share practical information on my experience for any who may seek to pursue the same.  On this trip, I rode a glass top coach from Queenstown to Milford Sound managed by Southern Discoveries and a catamaran through Milford Sound also run by Southern Discoveries. Both rides were very enjoyable and lots of interesting information was provided on board by the guides. Paul, the coach guide, was fantastic in his explanations, the result of lots of personal research. My light plane flight back to Queenstown was by Glenorchy Air and I would certainly recommend this flight to anyone who wants to take the entire air land water experience. The pilot, Lucas, was great, the flight smooth and never did I feel unsafe.

An interesting note is information I learned from the pilot of my flight, Lucas. Only 20 percent of scheduled flights from Milford Sound to Queenstown actually take place due to the weather in the Sound; consequently, if you go, just hope you are one of the lucky ones who gets to fly back!!!

 

 

 

 

Scenic Train Ride to Kuranda

When visiting Cairns, on the Far North Queensland Australia coast, a train ride up to the town of Kuranda is well worth the trip!

The scenic railroad climbs up through rainforest, passing by gorges and waterfalls.

it is surely worth the upgrade to Gold Class on the Kuranda Scenic Railroad to ride in a classic wagon, with comfortable bucket seats and refreshments on board.

Snaking through the rainforest

Barron Falls – The train makes a stop to allow a chance to view the falls from a viewing deck

Upon arrival at the Kuranda train station, a short walk leads to the town of Kuranda where one can visit local artisans selling their goods at a market.

On the return trip back to Cairns, Skyrail cableway travels back down right over the rainforest canopy offering breathtaking views from a different angle.

Manly Beach – Sydney

In my few days in Sydney, I have experienced sudden shifts in weather and realized the most cloudy sky still holds hope for a sunny day! A trip from Darling Harbour, Sydney, to Manly beach is a pleasant forty minute ride and one can enjoy a beach in the ferry landing cove or on the opposite side beach on the ocean.

Darling Harbour Pier 26

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Opera House

Fort Denison

At ferry landing spot local kids enjoy diving

Manly Beach

Walking from beach back to ferry landing

A Stroll through Hyde Park – Sydney

What a refreshing place on a hot summer afternoon to walk and relax in Hyde Park.

St. Mary’s Cathedral