Feb. 29, 2016Day 1 Milan Airport
I suppose it’s appropriate that we spend leap day, Feb. 29, that extra day we get once every four years, in an airport. We are in limbo in Milan as we await our RyanAir flight to Comiso, Sicily. We’ll arrive there about 8 pm after having “hung out” in the Milan airport for nine hours. Even if we had the desire to run into Milan today, it’s one of those rainy, cold days that would not make for a pleasant day if spent outside rolling bags behind us.
Richard is catching up on some sleep next to me. I got a little more sleep than he did, having taken an Ambien at just the right time after dinner. Delta is once again serving complimentary beverage of any sort on international flights. Free wine and beer are what we get in return for the airlines making huge profits once again. And free movies too. We got to watch The Big Short, a must see if you want to watch a really entertaining film that helps you understand the whole mortgage collapse and bank failures back in 2007-2008.
I’m taking this opportunity to give an overview of our trip. (After that I’ll finish a novel and learn Italian.) We are flying to and from the U.S. on Delta and then we are using RyanAir to make all our flights while over on this side of the Atlanta. Tonight we will fly to Cosimo, a small airport in the southeast of Sicily that has recently been converted for commercial use by just a few airlines.
We are going to the southeast first to immerse ourselves in the Baroque architecture that was used to rebuild cities and towns after a massive earthquake in 1693. Marco will be picking us at the airport tonight and bringing us back to his hotel, A Mo Casa. Tomorrow he will drive us over to Palazzola Acredie where we will start a self-guided bike tour. That means that someone else, Ettore from Sole & Bike, has made all the arrangements for us with hotels and will provide us with bikes, maps, and baggage transfers each day so that we will not have to carry our suitcases on the bikes. Masha will be taking care of that for us. I speak of these people by their first names because I’ve had so many email exchanges with them all. On a map, our bike tour will go to Ragusa, Modica, Pozzalo, Portopallo, Noto, and Siracusa, where our bike travels end. We’ll spend an extra night in Siracusa and then travel up to Taormini for a night before taking the train over to Polermo for four nights at what seems like will be a great AirBnB. Guilio, our host, is making dinner for us our first night there after a long day of traveling. I recently finished a history of Sicily, a very dry read. But what is clear is that this island was so strategically located that is was constantly invaded and ruled by foreign powers — Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Spanish, Normans, British — and it existed as a feudal economy and culture long after feudalism had ended in other parts. From everything I’ve read, the Sicily we will see will be more tourist-friendly and less dilapidated than it would have been 20 or 30 years ago.
After almost two weeks in Sicily, we fly on Ryan Air to Fez, Morocco. That Sunday, 3/13, will be another daunting day of travel. At 8:30 we fly from Palermo to Pisa, and then have a six hour overly before we fly to Fez. Once we arrive in Fez, Anne takes over and we’ll have our own personal guide. She will be waiting at the airport with a taxi waiting to take us back to her place in the Medina. Anne, our younger daughter, has been in Africa since June 2014, for a year in Benin with the Peace Corps followed by independent travel through west Africa and then since last August in Fez, Morocco. She teaches English and has a Moroccan boyfriend. We look forward to meeting him and chilling out a bit in Fez. Yes, we will go out and explore but we will also hang out at Anne’s riyad (no hotel needed) and she will cook us Moroccan food in the new tagine she just bought and go to the local hamman, think Turkish baths.
After eight days in Fez, we fly back to Milan. The RyanAir flights, though really cheap, get in at all sorts of odd hours, so we get in after 11 pm at the Milan-Begamo airport and then take a recovery day in MIlan before catching a mid-morning flight back to JFK on Wed, March 23.
I’m exhausted just writing this but then I only had four hours of sleep last night, if I was lucky. I must be patient with today’s much predicted fatigue.