Sicily City Tour

During the City Tour learned of Sicily’s problems – 40% unemployment, water shortage, and garbage overtaking the City. That said, when Sicily was ruled by a King there was a royal palace which now has become Parliament buildings.

The patron saint of Sicily is St. Rosalie. This is her cathedral which has a torrid past. Construction began is 600 AD by the Byzantines, then in 900 AD it became a Mosque, and in 1200 AD it became a Norman Church. Poor Rosalie – she was a Norman princess who in 1170 became a Christian and lived isolated in a cave. The Plague disappeared with her intercession, thus bestowing the honor of Patron Saint of Sicily.

St. Rosalie

Other attractions near the church – The 4 Corners Monument – this is the center point of Old Town Center with its theme the four seasons.

The Fountain of Palermo – this Fountain lies in front of a former convent. Our tour guide stated this was nicknamed the Fountain of Shame due to all the nude statutes…

Let’s close with a more upbeat pic..

Aren’t they adorable?

Sicily: Day 2

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, with Palermo as its capital. It joined Italy in 1860, after being ruled or inhabited by many different rulers. Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Byzantines, and the British, have all laid claim to the island. Sadly during World War II it was bombed extensively loosing much of its charming architecture. Portions of the Old Wall Fortress remain with chaotic Italian drivers speaking varied dialects as they drive, an influence from their many past rulers.

The Palermo Square

On the drive to Monreale Cathedral we past school children, government buildings with protesters, and the usual city life.

The Monreale Cathedral

This 12th century Cathedral is a masterpiece of mosaics which tell the story of creation and beyond. To build the Cathedral the King depleted the treasury.

Monreale Cathedral
The Mosaics
Back of the church

Walk to the bottom of the hill and catch a breathtaking view of Palermo

This area is a retail paradise. Cookies from this bakery were sublime. Good I don’t live nearby, but the cookies traveled well to the States.

The Medusa is the symbol of Sicily. When Roman’s ruled Sicily it was the breadbasket for the Romans providing wheat to all of Europe. There are pairs of wings and 3 wheat ears on the Medusa. The Medusa is thought to keep away the evil eye.

What a glorious visit.

The Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emmanuele or Palermo Opera House

Built between 1875-1897, this is the third largest opera house in Europe with 7730 square meters of beauty. The architect who designed the opera house won the honor via an open competition. While currently under renovation it was open for tours upon first presenting your vaccination card. It’s last renovation was from 1974-1997, when for 23 years the Opera House was silent. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen again, take a look..

Stairs leading to lobby
Lobby
View from the Royal Box

And while there had the great fortune to hear a practicing musician. What a treat.

Concert Hall Ceiling

What a work of art. If in Palermo take the tour, catch a concert, and maybe even a carriage ride.

Day 1: Palermo, Sicily

Arrived at Palermo Airport to a sunny day. The Airport provided easy access for departing passengers with good signage and staff ready to assist.

The tour guide whisked me off to Rapid Screen Testing..

Once found to be negative I was on my way to the hotel. Didn’t realize how mountainous Sicily was. Upon arrival at the hotel reacquainted myself with the European hotel ways.

  • First floor is zero, second floor is 1..
  • The hotel key card is placed in the slot by the door to obtain electricity
  • European and American voltage differs had to get out the converters
  • To flush the toilet push the large button over the toilet

Upon completion of these tasks set out to explore the City. Palermo had much retail but found H &M of particular interest. Much of their shirts had American state names on them.

Above the retail shops were apartments whose patios were adorned with plants and flowers.

More apartment buildings..

Many interesting side streets with artisans, vendors, and shoppes which were not to be missed.

And while stopping by an open church came across this wedding..

Congratulations to the happy couple!

Munich Airport

What an interesting Airport. Much to see and do. Let’s explore……

Arrived early morning however, the “fog” was already present. Munich seems to be having as much problem with air pollution and global warming as the rest of the world.

Some amenities..

Car technology and advertisements..

But two things I liked the most – The Bathrooms #1

#2. Comfortable places to rest and sleep..

In this Airport they have cubicles where you can work or snooze. They also have Nap Cabs where you can sleep for 10-15 Euros/2 hours.

In closing, a Lufthansa employee in traditional costume.

One step closer to Sicily……………

Newark Airport to New York City

Arrived in Newark Airport with 7 hours left till European departure. Since my daughter is working 2 jobs she couldn’t “play” with her mom, so visited the Big Apple solo. What fun! Walking through the terminal found the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

Kelly Ripa, Susan Sarandon, Senator Mark Kelly, Christopher Reeves, are other New Jersey notables displayed in this hall. Go, Jersey, nice touch.

Newark is currently undergoing major renovations. There is no place for luggage storage, and if on a late night layover with early morning connection staying in the Airport is not possible.

With a Newark layover there are a few things to do:

  • Newark Art Museum – open Thursday through Sunday, is a bus ride away, $1.60 each way. $10 or free for residents, active military. Jersey transit is reliable, hours 6 am till midnight.
  • Jersey Garden Mall – great shopping on Exit 62. Airport Information near luggage kiosk.
  • Elizabeth Historic Walking Tour – great if you have a car and nice to walk after a flight. It was New Jersey’s First Historical Capital. 16 miles away.

I opted for New York City, 22.50 round trip via NJ Transit, with senior rates. Take Newark Airport Air Train to the NJ Transit station and purchase tickets at a nearby machine.

Once in New York explore the shops in Penn Station and check out the historical figurines depicting Atlantic City, and other memorable New Jersey spots.

Get your shoes shined or repaired..
Just round the corner from Penn Station – say a prayer for a safe trip.

Stop by Times Square..

Have a bite to eat at one of the many outdoor cafes on the street..

Or buy a play ticket for a future date..

And before you know it, it will be time to return for the flight to Europe…

View from the Air Train

Sicily Start: Salt Lake City to Logan Airport, Boston

Had forgotten what a long journey it is to Europe. Left Wyoming at 7:30 pm for a red eye flight to Newark via Boston on Jet Blue. Never can sleep on a plane, but tried. Have any suggestions?? Please let me know.

While not a fan of Jet Blue it had a good connection/price, and they do have more leg room. Also found on this journey more seasoned and pleasant flight attendants than I have in the past, so will open my options should their flights be available. Am angered with Delta as Ed didn’t mandate vaccines for his staff.. Shame on you, Delta.

That said – let’s check out the new Logan Airport. Was impressed by their upgrades with stores and restaurants. It’s been several years since my last visit.

A steal from the South..

Rocking Chairs

Great Children’s Room

And much hometown feel. Have noted Airports are beginning to honor their heroes and communities. Much has been accomplished in B town and this was good to see..

Other notable upgrades..

Charging Stations with a view..

And it wouldn’t be Boston without the teams…

JetBlue Boston Celtics Plane
Honoring the teams at TSA

And then there are those Massachusetts beaches, etc.. Massachusetts is a great place to live.

But what did I like best about Logan?? – The real plants. Gives humanity to the Airport.

Next: A unplanned visit to the Big Apple.. Stay tuned..

International Travel in Time of Pandemic

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

International travel at this time is challenging, but not insurmountable. However, if not vaccinated it is out of the question. Some web sites to review:

For Italy the following was required:

  • Mandatory proof of vaccination
  • Mandatory passenger locator form (PLF)*
  • Mandatory health pass for public activity- CDC Vaccination card accepted
  • Proof of COVID-19 test results required for vaccinated travelers – test must be administered within 48 hours of departure
  • Masks at all sites

Upon entry into Sicily there was a new regulation with a rapid screen required upon entry. This was free and available on airport grounds.

The proof of vaccination during this trip was more vital than passport. Ensure it is always with you.

*The PLF Form – Patient Locator Form

This Form needs completion prior to European travel. It is challenging to complete. Ensure you have your passport and all components of your travel itinerary before initiating this e form. Read instructions carefully and recommend having another set of eyes available during the completion. Carry copies of this form with you at all times and on your phone as well.

The purpose of this form is to facilitate contact tracing on exposed individuals. It is a vital public health document with cross boarder health threats.

Rapid Screen Testing

Rapid Screen Testing results are required and reviewed by airline staff during the check in process. These tests need completion 48 hours prior to flight. You will not be allowed on the plane should you not have this completed. Bring paper copies and download on your phone as well.

Shop around to obtain a fair price for this screening. At most airports this testing can be completed, Newark Airport cost $250. Unsure if all health insurances will pay for travel testing.

Cruise ships also requiring Rapid Screen Testing.

Carnival Cruise Line has strong guidelines: https://www.carnival.com/legal/covid-19-legal-notices. The following information regarding Rapid Screen Testing is copied from the Carnival web site:

Carnival has recommended using an Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card Home Test, which includes a viral antigen home test and the services of an eMed telemedicine professional who will supervise the administration of the home test.

The test provider must provide guests with an official test result; no handwritten report. Results are provided in approximately 15 minutes, and test kits are available to be shipped in 50 states. The home test (including two tests) costs $69.99 when it is purchased via the Optum Store. 

No financial remuneration was received from Carnival. Sharing this information as in checking Florida sites have found this testing in the $170 range and at port side $150. The UK provides this testing for citizens free and congress is currently looking at this.

Without this paperwork you cannot check in. Plan ahead and have documentation readily available.

Enjoy!