Wednesday, 5 October 2016
05.10.2016 - 05.10.2016
Arrived to a cloudy morning with some fine rain. Lovely harbour but no sign of Mt Etna or the sunrise. A brief breakfast then back to the cabin to prepare our gear for today's shore excursion. We checked in for the tour and assembled in the Theatre. When our turn came to board the bus we were advised to break out the umbrellas, there was rain in the air. Thankfully the rain was of short duration.
We were equipped with radio receivers so that we could hear our guide both on and off the coach. Surprisingly they actually worked. We set off through the craziest traffic I've witnessed. Cars make extra lanes as the mood and space allows. When you want to park, stop at any angle right out into the line of traffic. The driver threaded his rig through some incredibly narrow gaps.
Traffic was slow until we reached Cape Peloro passing a large saltwater lake used to grow mussels and clams. As is the tradition, stalls are set up almost beside the road to sell the produce. Sometimes these stalls encroach into the line of traffic in which case one waits until there is a break to let you pass. Much of the ancient architecture has been replaced after a devastating earthquake destroyed almost all buildings. When rebuilt, most structures adopted the style of the times and were built to a high seismic standard.
Back towards the city and more feats of precision driving. At one section the driver of a parked truck provided guidance to our driver. We were asked to 'suck in' and cleared the parked vehicles by just a coat of paint. We stopped for a view over the city at Cristo Re, amazing vista over the city and harbour.
Back down to the city to visit the Cathedral of Messina and the 180 foot bell tower. The Cathedral was originally built in the 12th century but has been extensively restored after the earthquake and damage sustained during WWII.
The clock tower houses the world's largest astronomical clock. As the noon hour approached a vast crowd assembled in the Cathedral Square to witness the daily show. Various sections of the clock tower contain automated characters and a very loud sound track. The gold lion starts off with a mighty roar which brings a startled reaction from the unsuspecting crowd. The rooster then chimes in with a raucous crow. Then the music plays whilst various figures rotate in one of the windows. A truly impressive show and for free !!
Great end to the tour and on boarding the coach we were ferried back to the ship. We were less exhausted than we were yesterday and tossed up whether to go ashore again or stay aboard. Thought it over during lunch and decided to stay aboard. Jenny went off to craft and I snapped some images from Deck 19. There was an unexpected activity on the wharf aft of the ship. It took some detective work to figure out that it was a refugee processing centre. There were Red Cross shelters, police and other officials. While difficult to see I guess 100 or more dark African people being processed.
With a 16:30 'all aboard' dinner in the Michelangelo Dining Room was busier than previous. We make a point of being there as close to opening time to ensure our choice of tables. Javier and Chris have a great manner and we have leaned some of their individual background. Javier has a grown-up family and is working to put his youngest son through University. Chris hasn't been grilled yet. In response to the question "Where do you come from ?" answered "My mother !!" with a cheeky grin.
Tonight's show is a repeat of one we saw on some previous cruise and was not considered worth seeing again. Spent the time putting this together. Sea day tomorrow.
I can't guarantee a specific image to point to, if you want to see the latest, view my project by following this link to the main album.
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony