First, about the weather. It rained last night before, during and after I went to dinner, but the temp was moderate. Today, the sun was shining bright and I could have walked around with a t-shirt, although I did also wear my fleece hoodie just in case. Mid-60s.
Last night, Giuseppe at the hotel recommended a restaurant to me and showed me on the map where it was, a few blocks from the hotel. It’s called Trattoria Don Turiddy and is family owned. Found it without trouble and it was mostly full – of locals – although there was a table of guys who also are staying at the hotel. I took a table in front, right next to the fish. Picture walking in the door, which is glass and framed by full-length plate-glass windows, and on your left is this large table of fresh fish. All kinds of whole fish, swordfish steaks, shrimp, sea urchins, mussels, oysters, clams, calamari, you name it. The head waiter (maybe the owner or owner’s son) was the only waiter allowed to pick out the seafood for customers. He’d grab a little of this, a little of that.
The waiters did not speak English and the menu was in Italian, without subtitles, but I managed. I ordered a liter of local wine because it was only 3 euro for an entire liter. It was a very nice, light white. For dinner, I ordered penne pasta carne (with meat and Parmesan – 6 euros). A waitress, looked like she might have been the owner’s wife or family member, brought me a large bowl of grated Parmesan. I thought the waiter indicated the antipasto table was complimentary so I helped myself. It turned out to be another 6 euros but what a selection. There were at least 25 different foods on the table and I could easily have made antipasto my dinner. I might go back and do just that. A lot of it I couldn’t identify, even some of what I tried, which included a grilled artichoke, cheese potatoes, grilled eggplant, brown olives, sauteed bell peppers and a couple of other items. Excellent. And the pasta was excellent, as well, better than what I had the night before in Rome.
I was only able to finish half the wine so I brought the remainder over to a table with three 40-something senoras and gave it to them. They probably thought I was another crazy American.
After dinner, I got totally turned around trying to find the hotel. I must have walked up and down several streets several times before finally asking a cafe owner for directions.
The 2BAP Walking Tour – Catania version
That’s 2 Bags and a Pack (2BAP). Managed to pull myself out of bed around 8:30. Too
much noise outside to sleep anyway and I wanted to make the continental breakfast in time. There was no one in the room, so I helped myself to pastry, yogurt and juice. A young woman came in and made me some cafe fresh. Then it was time to explore.
I decided today I would head for the port, which turned out to be about a mile from the hotel. The streets were crowded and let me explain how they do it here. Basically, it’s a free-for-all. Many streets do not have traffic signals, not that those matter much. People walk in the street. Cars cut off each other. Motorcycles go everywhere, even on the wrong side of the street or on the sidewalks. If you want to cross a street, even on a crosswalk, you have to walk in front of a moving car – or bus. It’s fun to watch where there is a red traffic light. All the motorcycles manage to weave their way to the front, and then they all take off when the light turns green, as if they’re in some sort of motorcross. A lot of women ride motorcycles here. It all seems very dangerous but somehow they manage – and I haven’t seen a single accident as yet.
Perhaps I’m jaded, but the historic buildings do not seem as beautiful here as in Rome. In
the center city, all the buildings are 4-5 stories high, with retail on the bottom and residential and office above. I did pass through several piazzas and took some pictures. I also tried to stay on a straight path so as not to get lost. The street layout doesn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason. I did have a map, just in case.
The port is very industrial. Lots of shipping containers, grain storage bins, container ships. I walked out as far as I could and could see the Ionian Sea. There also were several people fishing. They use long, 10-12-foot poles. Stopped at one fisherman and asked “no bene” and he shrugged and smiled. I asked, with my hands, how big the fish were and he indicated about 14-18 inches. He had a bucket of bait he showed me. It was full of small, squirming white things. I think they were maggots.
On the way back to the hotel, I stopped at a small store for Cokes, candy and bourbon. The
Jim Beam wasn’t marked but two Cokes, two candy bars and a liter of Beam came to 17.50 euro. I think the JB is cheaper here than in the U.S.
I ventured off the straight and narrow on my way back and ended up in a neighborhood I probably wouldn’t want to walk in at night. In one doorway, there was an ugly, fat woman sitting, with her chest hanging out and dressed like a prostitute – picture the red light district in Amsterdam. Also, on the way back, I tried to look for apartment rental signs. When I looked up, over the retail level, I saw several large signs saying “affittasi,” with means rental, along with phone numbers. These places are right on the very busy, and noisy, street I was walking on, which might not be good, but I wrote the phone numbers down. Of course, I will probably need an Italian to make the calls.
It’s now time to load photos, reduce them in size for uploading to Web, post this blog – and head off for lunch. I plan to try the cafe where the owner gave me directions last night. I think they sell lamb kebobs there.
Just had lunch. Bought the kebob with a beer – 4 euro. Waited for Giuseppe to pick me up to see his apartment but he never showed. He works tomorrow so I’ll check with him then.