Last year I was invited to my cousins Wedding in Sicily and decided to make it a 3 week European Experience.
My First stop was Barcelona, Flying part of the way in Premium Economy on Singapore Airlines – this was far more roomy and comfortable than Economy, with extra wide seats and more leg room. Barcelona is a set on the Baleriac Sea and is a cosmopolitan City, with an emphasis on food. The Boqueira Market and a Tapas walking Tour were highlights. A visit to Barcelona is not complete without visiting the Sagrada Familia Church designed by Antonio Gaudi and is still a working progress. Just walking around in Barcelona is wonderful, the narrow streets in the Gothic area and the many piazza’s that open with café’s and music a surprise. There are also beautiful Old Churches. Not forgetting that Barcelona is on the Beach. A visit to the beach is also recomomended.
From Barcelona we flew in La Mezzia in Calabria to visit my husbands family. Before going to the family I wanted to Visit a Beach resort that I had heard about. Tropea is a small town on the east coast of Calabria, in southern Italy. It is a beautiful Hilltop town with a12th-century cathedral overlooking the beautiful Coastline. It is a place that I need to return to.
After Tropea we hired a Car and drove down to the Catch the Ferry Across the Straight of Messina to my birth place Sicily and the home of the Active Mount Etna, which sits up prominently for all to see on the East Coast of Sicily… The traffic was horrendous and my husband needs a medal for driving through to Catania. Catania is noisy, busy and edgy. Here we had drinks in bars and were offered free plates of nibbles Aranacini, Pizza Olives. I don’t think we ever brought lunch in Catania – Just drank Aperol Spritz’s and ate their free food. The family and the wedding were wonderful, the reception was set on a hilltop overlooking the sea, We started in the Gardens and then in a beautiful old building now used as a reception centre. We also visited the Hilltop Town of Taormina. The town is known for the Teatro Antico di Taormina, an ancient Greco-¬Roman theater still used today. Near the theater, cliffs drop to the sea forming coves with sandy beaches. A narrow stretch of sand connects to Isola Bella, a tiny island and nature reserve. We spent the afternoon but would clearly love to go back and stay for 3 – 4 days and enjoy La Vita Bella.
After leaving Sicily I decided to fly to Malta another Meditteranean Island, so close to Sicily and also the original home to many Maltese Australians. It was an interesting Island, it was laid back and relaxed. St Julians Bay where we stayed was surrounded by water, every corner you turned has another harbour full of fishing boats. We ate at harbourside restaurants and walked along the waterfront. Most evenings fireworks lit up the sky in different directions celebrating religious festivals. We took a day trip on a speed boat to Camino and The Blue Lagoon and cruised their waters, swam ate and had a wonderful day. ( the Guy selling deck chair hire was a Australian Born Maltese ! ) We also spent an afternoon in the Bustling streets of the Capital Valletta and stopped at the Barracca Gardens overlooking the Sea and saw cruise liners docked there for the day. There are many wonderful places to see like for my next visit to this enticing Island - Cozo, Mdina to name a few.
We then flew to Paris to get our flight home. Paris never disappoints, this time we stayed near the department stores of Lay Fayette. We walked the streets that evening and walked into a Restaurant in a Piazza that spoke very little English. The waitress was very attentive and helped us choose from a menu that we could not understand. We had a lovely meal and really enjoyed the experience. The following day after shopping we went into another restaurant and had again another lovely meal. I had seen the Eiffel Tower, The Madeline, Montmarte, SacreCour, Le Lourve and Disneyland on a Past visit. So one day in Paris is not recommended, but for me on this trip. It had to be.
On the way home, we had the opportunity to Fly Business Class with Cathay Pacific. Their business class seats were fully flat bed, which was great as i was unwell on my trip home. I was able to sleep comfortably. This long trip back to Australia more bearable. The food, wine and attentiveness by the cabin staff was impeccable.
I love Europe and enjoy putting itineraries together for people. You need time to discover destinations and I try to allow ample time in cities and then give suggestions on what to see and do.