Thursday, May 19, 2011

Palermo, Italy

May 17, Tuesday....we had a tough night to say the least! At about 1:30 am, DS's temp was still hovering around 102. After a dose of ibuprofen when the temp showed 104.5 at about 4 am, we decided to dial the medical center. No one answered, so we dialed emergency which redirected us to reception. Strange! But in the end we carted all of ourselves to deck 4 to the medical center. There was a night staff of one nurse and a doc. They were extremely courteous and did gave DS an alcohol rub to reduce the high fever, diagnosed him with acute bronchitis and tonsilitis, prescribed the right meds and sent us on our way. I was happy with the medical staff and service. The night was shot but DS managed to get a few hours of sleep in the early morning hours.

The ship docked at Palermo, the capital city of Sicily, Italy at 8 am. We decided to skip land excursion coz DS was sick but after another visit to the doc at about 11 am, he seemed fine enough to go out. So we headed out to the port and were immediately accosted by taxi tour operators offering a taxi city tour for €120 for 3 hours or €100 (discounted to €90 just for u!) For 2 hours. We kept walking and met another taxi driver called Joseph right outside the port entrance who offered to take us around for €70 for 2 hours. We finally settled on €50 for the three of us for 2 hours of city tour. He was alright but I felt short changed a little because I think he cut short our tour by about 20 mins. No complaints though since DS was getting antsy after about an hour and a half. The comfort of the taxi was worth the money as against taking a hop on/hop off tour. We started the tour by going to the Albero Secolare, a small garden of trees that looked like banyan trees with their roots spread all around. We then drove up Via Vittorio Emanuelle, to Quattro Canti or the four corners of a square which is made up of four buildings - one on each corner. Each building has three levels covered with Baroque sculptures that were designed by the architect Giulio Lasso. The sculptures on the facades of the four buildings illustrate various themes: the Four Seasons, Spanish kings and various patron saints of Palermo's four old quarters. Next to this is Piazza Pretoria which houses a beautiful fountain sorrounded by sculptures and nice buildings. After walking around and taking the usual pictures we walked over to a church that appeared to be under construction - I believe this is called La Martorana. Next to this church is the tiny church of San Mataldo, with three pinkish red domes or cupolas on top and looks more Islamic than Christian. But the actual basilica behind the contructions facade is beautiful with frescoes and delicate art work on the walls and ceilings. From there we headed to the Palermo Cattedrale...which is an imposing structure. The outside is very impressive, the insides, not as much but theres the usual art work, frescoes and sculptures. We then drove past Teatro Massimo, with a quick stop to take some pics and grab a bite to eat in a street side cafe. Joseph didn't seem too keen on taking us anywhere else and DS wanted to head back so we simply drove past San Domenico (which looked like a dilapidated church) and Teatro Politeama (which appeared to be under some sort of construction). Once we were dropped off at the ship and DS was settled in, I walked out into the city up the street from the port - Via Emerico Amari. My intention was to go back to Teatro Politeama and take some pics but the walk itself was very enjoyable. I stopped at a local grocery store and got some interesting looking local pasta, pate and pesto sauce. Then took pics of some intriguing buildings - one appeared to be a church, another a bingo house....the actual Teatro was quite disappointing and I felt it wasn't worth the walk. However, I was able to stop by at a souvenir store and buy shot glasses representing Don Corleone, the Godfather, for DH, who is a huge fan of the movies. I also stopped at a store/restaurant/cafe called Bristol which according to our driver was one of the best cafes in town. I got some pastries from the store ...and just the cannelloni was worth the effort! It was apparently typical Sicilian style and it was very tasty.

Tonight's dinner dress code was formal and while dinner itself was blah as usual, the wine was very good and we got to dress up and take some good pictures. Tonight's entertainment was a show called 'Sortilegio' ('check mate to the queen') and was themed around chess pieces. So the entire costume was based on various chess pawns in black and white. Again, very impressive although the overall show wasn't as amazing as the previous nights. There was a gymnast act which was very good.

We called it a night after a good round of girly chat in my cabin with my girlfriends.

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