Updated: Dec 10, 2019
“The game is cancelled this weekend”
I don’t like free time. Okay, correction.. I actually love free time. I love having free time and then taking every free moment I have and filling it up. So therefore I never have free time. So does that mean I love free time or hate it? I’m not sure. All I know there isn’t much that makes me happier than when I look at my Google Calendar and it looks like Crayola threw up all over it. (yes, I color code my events and my ToDo’s.. I’m a little type A) With that being said, you can envision my excitement when I discovered I now had the WHOLE weekend free.
With my game being canceled, I headed directly to Skyscanner (What is Skyscanner?… You’re welcome) Skyscanner has this fun little function where you can type in your departure airport, plug in the dates you want to travel, and “Explore”. No destination. Just the best deal. After a $34 purchase I was on my way to Palermo, Italy.
I didn’t even know where Palermo, Italy was at the time but after a quick Google search I was pleasantly surprised to find the city placed on the Island of Sicily. I don’t know about you but my tank of gas back home is more than $34 AND that tank of gas normally brings me back and forth from Green Bay to Oconto a few times.. So basically the same thing as flying to an island off of the coast of Italy.
Also, note that I pulled my teammate Quynne along with me on this trip.
My favorite part about taking a trip, is planning the trip. To some this might be a daunting task but for me it’s my favorite part. I love researching everything about my destination. Where to go, what to see, what to eat.. all of it. Within the next few days I planned the whole trip.. housing, car, flight, bus, food, hikes.. everything. This probably took a total of 8 hours and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The 3 day trip was organized by the hour. (Remember, I’m that annoying type A person) But this is the way I enjoy to travel. Eliminates FOMO.
Planning the trip in advance allows me to clear my mind. I don’t have to sit there and think well what about this or that or that.. so on. The decisions are already made and when I get there I just get to enjoy the trip. I don’t have to worry about; what’s the plan for today? Or what time was the car rental return? It’s already planned and organized. I like to call it my “PLAN A” because I don’t care if it wavers once I arrive. You never know what will happen when you arrive or what city you will want more time in or who you may meet along the way. I have my Plan A but if I follow a Plan B it doesn’t bother me. Confused yet? Figured. But I like to feel present in the moment and the same goes when I travel. I don’t want to be rushing from one place to the next. I want to enjoy each moment.
For your own enjoyment (or if you are looking to hire a trip planner, party planner, life planner, exc.)… Check out the itinerary.
Yes, I did indeed fall in love with Sicily. I have been to the north of Italy but Sicily was a new type of love. This is not me just being dramatic. I literally fell in love with the island. All my favorite trips have been to islands. I mean what’s not to love? Turquoise water and mountains in every direction. Italy is also the homeland of all my favorite things; beaches, mountains, coffee, wine, gelato, passionate people, beautiful language, and great food. Don’t be surprised if I pull an Elizabeth Gilbert and disappear for a few months.
I got off the airplane and the sun was warm and the sky was the perfect color of blue. I was squirming like a little kid in the car rental line. You know, the little kid that’s sitting on his hands at the lunch table waiting to be dismissed for recess. Yes, I’m that kid. I couldn’t wait to explore. I always wonder how much excitement is social acceptable to be displayed in these situations. Like is everyone else around me this excited and are just holding it in to act like the adults we are?? Either way.. I basically sprinted to the car after I got the keys in my hand. (maybe I was so excited because I was handed the keys to an AUTOMATIC car) Watch out Sicily.
Jokes on me. Sicily wasn’t going to have to watch out for me I was going to have to watch out for Sicily.
** Insert my apology to German drivers. You all are saints. Keep up the good work.
Sicilian drives are just reckless. Damn reckless. Did I mention my car rental for 4 days was 19 euros… At first I was ecstatic with this price. I got to explore all the nooks of the island for only 19 euros?! Turns out, it’s probably so cheap because no tourist dares driving in the madness— no we didn’t have any accidents — However the driving is humorous. I can’t even describe it. The roads are probably made for 3 cars across, no way of actually knowing because there’s no lines on the roads, so sometimes it fits 3 and sometimes 4 and the occasional 5 and don’t forget about the few motorcycles weaving in and out.
Roundabouts are a well organized concept back home (for those who know how to use them hehe) but here it’s just a circle of cars maneuvering however they please. If they want to switch lanes, no need to check the blindspots, they just switch lanes. Putting the nose of the car wherever they need to go. Person behind them will break.. (I mean what’s the other option..?) You have to be a defensive driver but yet have a certain amount of assertiveness and aggression. If you are an aggressive driver back home you have probably been honked at, given a dirty look, and even the occasional middle finger but in Italy you have to drive that way to survive.
Don’t get me wrong they aren’t hesitant laying their hand on the horn and they have their own version of the middle finger. Imagine pinching salt.. now point your fingers to the sky.. and now shake your hand. To my understanding, it translates to “what the hell”. I may or may not have seen that action in my rear mirror a few times.
Each red light built up anticipation like at a starting line of a race... On your mark.. Get set.. GO! I’ve never been the fastest.. *Cue honking and hand gesture*
Definition of passing lane is taken as literal as possible. Cars on the left are there for 2 reasons; they are going 40 km over the speed limit or they are passing someone. No one just “chills” in the left lane. If you are caught “chilling” in the left lane you will soon have someone so close to your rear end flashing their brights at you just as a friendly reminder to get over.
Driving in Palermo may have been the closest I’ve ever been to my youth video game days of Grand Theft Auto. Best spent 19 Euros ever.
Italians have a way with food. Doesn’t matter.. pasta, pizza, meats, cheese, bread. Everything. Yes, I said cheese. (Sorry, Wisconsin but it’s not even a competition) When I travel, I enjoy trying the local cuisine.. In Germany for example, it’s often for the experience of trying new foods but Italy on the other hand, it’s for the pure enjoyment of every single bite.
Our typical day consist of coffee/ croissant in the morning (usually skipping lunch while exploring) and then indulging in a big dinner coupled with a glass of wine. We picked pizza the first few nights and a pasta dinner the last night… This deserves it’s own paragraph so I will touch on that later… The south of Italy is known for the cannoli. Some of the hardest decisions I faced on the trip was gelato or cannolis?! Espresso is also famous in Italy so I made sure to “take” an espresso while I was there (I don’t know why, must be how it translates, but they “take” a coffee or “take” an espresso in comparison to “drinking” a coffee). I never had that much sleep during the trip but energy was never lacking in my time in Italy.
Now for the Pasta dinner. Our host, Gabrielle — CouchSurfer — brought us to a typical Italian restaurant. This might be the best meal I’ve had in a long time. We had an appetizer that was cheese. Just two hunks of cheese with honey on it, grilled. And wow. It only got better. The first course was a pasta dish with grilled veggies. The freshest pasta I have ever had. The second dish was squid stuffed with cheese and pumpkin. Like what?? So good. The meal was complemented with the best red wine. And was wrapped up with a special Sicilian dessert cake. 23 euros... Easy. Take my money.
This was again the exact reason I love CouchSurfing. It’s incredible. It’s an experience to stay with a local. Get advice on the area, meet someone new, and really experience the culture. — CouchSurfing Blog Coming Soon!
When planning the trip (or any trip really) I make sure to plan multiple opportunities to hike. You can’t be surrounded by mountains and not explore them. Okay, well maybe you can but I can’t. I love hiking. It’s one of my favorite hobbies. It’s peaceful and I think there’s something to be said about being without service and just enjoying the nature around you. During one of my hikes I found myself at a beach where I sat for at least an hour and just threw rocks into the ocean. Hiking makes you realize how big this world really is. There’s so much out there. It inspires me to travel and explore more. Plus, it’s a nice little workout. I have a weird enjoyment of running uphill. Not for long period but in small bursts. I think it’s mostly just part of my excitement. I just want to get to the top and see the view. I made it to the top of one of my hikes and I was dripping in sweat. The sun was hot and I was sweating like a monster. I sat down to catch my breathe and I was joined by this women with perfectly curled hair in a dress and flats. Cool.
Each city had a different personality. Some newer and remodeled and others being small seaside towns filled with history. All in all I loved Sicily. I enjoyed every minute of my “free weekend”. Next time you have a free weekend, take advantage. No, I don’t mean you have to go take a trip to a Italy but plan something with your friends or family. I very well could have kicked my feet up and relaxed with my weekend off but then I would have never got to experience beauty of Sicily and the Italian culture. Go out and experience something new. Don’t get stuck doing the same old things because it's easy. Fill your free time with new experiences. Whatever it is that you want to do, go do it. Chow.