Day 22: We Ain’t in Lipari Anymore

This morning was a bit of a bummer, in that we had to peel ourselves away from Lipari.  Lipari, rhymes with slippery, we thank you for everything and if all goes well, we’ll be back.

One of our new Liparoti friends

One of our new Liparoti friends

After saying goodbye to our four-legged furry friends, who were waiting on the balcony when we awoke, we took the 9:30 Siremar hydrofoil back to Milazzo, picked up our car, and were off to Palermo.  The drive took under 3 hours and although much of it was through tunnels, the snippets we saw of the northern coastline were enough to underscore how we need to come back.

Because many people had warned us that driving in Palermo is like the real life vehicular version of Frogger only we were guaranteed to lose, we elected to drop the car off at the airport and take the Prestia e Comande coach shuttle bus into town (€11/each, round-trip).  I have no doubt Jim could have held his own but, you know, better safe than sorry.

The shuttle ride took about 40 minutes to the Politeama stop and it gave an interesting first impression of Palermo:  the view out one side of bus was of the sparkling blue sea, the view out the other side was of heaps – great big heaps – of trash.  After we arrived at the hotel, Hotel Joli, it became apparent that Palermo is the kind of place you want to start your trip when you’re fresh-faced and full of energy, not end it.  And certainly not after spending 3 glorious nights on the laid-back, picturesque, tranquil Aeolian Islands.  The contrast in noise level and chaos was jarring, and the long-standing garbage collection issues are off-putting, to say the least.

Teatro Politeama Garibaldi

Teatro Politeama Garibaldi

Nonetheless, we checked into the hotel, rested, and headed out in late afternoon to check things out.  It turned out there was some sort of festival going on, and the main thoroughfares had been blocked off to most vehicle traffic.  We walked and walked and walked, passing by some fancy, architecturally interesting buildings, before finding we were low on energy and starving.  Trouble was it was only 18:30 and  the restaurant we wanted to eat at didn’t open until 19:30.  And we were set on eating there because rumor had it they made some of the best pizza in Palermo.  We did the only thing we had the energy for, and that was to join the multitude of teenagers who were out strutting their stuff and sit on the stoop of the Teatro Massimo, waiting for the time to pass.  When you are tired, hungry, and wanting to be back in Lipari, Minutes.  Pass.  By.  Very.  Very.  Slooooowly.  Time, we would come to find out, stands still in Palermo.

Teatro Massimo, a good place to sit until your butt falls asleep

Teatro Massimo, a good place to sit until your butt falls asleep

Finally, at 19:15, we couldn’t wait anymore and headed to Frida Pizzeria, where we were still early so we lurked around the bushes for 10 minutes while waiting for the clock to strike the magical moment of :30.  Frida’s, it turns out, isn’t worth the wait.  The food is mediocre and the service is Abysmal with a capital ‘A,’ having the most apathetic and rudest wait staff on the planet.  They did, however, provide a good floor show as we observed them mopily walk around the room, seemingly upset by all these people sitting at tables and wanting to eat.  The nerve.

After dinner we strolled back to the room and strategized our attack on Palermo the following day.  It was to be the last full day of the trip and we were aimin’ to make it a good one.

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