Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Arrivederci Naples, Buongiorno Cefalu

For our last day in Naples, we tried to see all of the city sites we didn't get to this week. First we tried to go to the Castel Nuovo (the 13th century "New Castle"), but it is closed on Sundays. Then we walked over to the old Castel Dell'Ovo (the 12th century castle with a mystical history that Olga is fascinated with), but it had the same fate. We also wanted to ride the funiculars, but ran out of time. So we'll need another day in Naples some time!

Thankfully, the Royal Palace and San Carlos Theatre were open, so we perused them. We took lots of silly pictures, including me making the face of an old clock, and a self-portrait taken through an old mirror on a royal dining table. We stopped by our the only known working internet cafe, but of course it was closed for Sunday. Luckily we had our laptops and they left the WiFi equipment on :)

We headed back towards the Centrale Stazione to collect our bags and get ready for the train trip to Sicily, but first we had to have our last authentic Neapolitan pizza. We have been finding the service decreasing in quality throughout the trip, but apparently that has no relation to the quality of the pizza as my Tomato, Mozzarella, Mushroom pizza with Ricotta cheese stuffed in the crust was out of this world!!

We boarded the overnight train around 10pm. It was not a very pleasant part of the trip, but it was interesting. It was hot, stuffy, loud (people were talking all night, some people were playing music), and just generally uncomfortable. However there was one really neat part when the train was loaded onto a ferry and scurried across the Adriatic Sea. The entire train could not fit contiguously in the boat, so it would shimmy into the boat, drop off 4 cars, pull out the remaining 12 cars, go back in another track, drop off 4 cars, pull out the remaining 8, etc.

Monday at 8am, we arrived in the beautiful beach resort town of Cefalu in Sicily. It is truly a wonderful town with friendly folks, not too touristy. We spent the entire day napping, swimming, eating, and reading on the beach. In the evening, we ventured into the medievel part of town to investigate the restaurants and shops. Highlight: gelato in a brioche (French dinner roll), rinsing up in a medievel foot bath, and a 3-hour 6-course dinner (shared by the two of us) at a local Trattoria.

Tuesday in Cefalu was a bit more adventurous. We woke up early in order to not miss the Italian buffet breakfast provided by the hotel. I was still tired from not sleeping the night before and ended up taking a nice long nap in the room before heading out for lots of fun in the beach - yay! In the afternoon Olga had to finish writing a story and I looked through some brochures for possible excursions, deciding to go on a snorkeling trip. They picked me up at the hotel and we rode on a very scenic drive Eastward along the coast for about 25 mins.

Along the way, he managed to convince me to upgrade from snorkeling to SCUBA. Having done snorkeling in Mexico and in Hawaii, it seemed the natural progression. One pool dive and one sea dive later, I am a PADI Discover Scuba level diver. We were swimming in a reef on the Mediterranean Sea and there were schools of fish swimming around us. We were only 7 meters below the surface, but there were so many different kinds of beautiful fish just an arm's length away, it was really amazing. The next level is super expensive, so I think I'll continue doing just these introductory dives.

Then we went out to dinner in a Michelin-guide rated restaurant. I enjoyed it more than last night's - the service was peppier and I enjoyed today's carne courses more than yesterday's pesce courses - although nothing even tops the Caprese insalate. We at dinner at the bottom of the steps of the 12th century year Cefalu Duomo (cathedral) and a marching band kept marching back and forth through dinner to celebrate the Patron Saint holiday (each time giving the piano player at the restaurant a break in the middle of each tune).

The first time they went by, they were followed by the local cardinal, priests, a monk, town elders, local congregation members, the mayor, and other political delegations. The second they passed through, the priests and the cardinal had disappeared. The time, everybody except the band and its parade of new followers passed by. We were finished up dinner and followed the band long enough to catch a couple of tunes.

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