Closing thoughts on Sicily

Alright, so it's been over a week now and I still haven't really blogged about the trip (except for the liveblogging). I've pretty much cooled down so much that I only have a handful of things to say about it. Let's start with an imagedump: Sicily part one, two and three.

Sicily was just awesome. I was expecting to see beautiful landscapes, and I got them. It's truly a great place to cycle around in, especially the countryside. The urban area around Palermo wasn't too bad, although we had to do a 400m climb just to get to the coastline because the only other road was a highway. That's still a lot better than Catania, for which the only road going south was the highway.

Speaking of Catania, I would like to mention how much it sucked for cycling. The trip from the airport to the city center took us through the most dodgy areas I have ever cycled in, and it did look very very slummy. This coming from a guy who loved the city center of Catania and pretty much every other bit of Sicily. It doesn't help that we had to cycle on the bloody highway to get to Augusta, the next big town south of Catania. We encountered an alternate route, which was already on the map, but hadn't been completely built yet. That was a 10km detour. Besides that incident we encountered a lot of examples or modern architecture, road network design and other things like that which just made me think: Italians suck at building things.

The people of Sicily were extremely nice! They were all very friendly and we usually managed to convey our thoughts, despite our obvious dismastery of the language. Interacting with Sicilians is quite fun. Informal, sometimes random, sometimes impunctual, all in all very un-northern-european :D The Sicilian personality shines through in traffic as well, although busy cities like Palermo and Catania are quite different from the countryside. As usual, I prefer the countryside, although I remember my travelmates saying they liked being back in the city when we arrived at Palermo.

Have I mentioned the food? Because it was great. Every little thing I ate in Sicily was blessed with a very strong flavor. Everything just tasted... stronger, than in Holland. I still remember the delicious food we had at an olive farm one night. So delicious. It wasn't too expensive either, and neither were the hotels. The 3 of us could usually get a bed at a B&B or hostel for under 25€ each. I should note that we didn't camp at all, so I can't comment on how easy it is to find camping places or other places to pitch your tent.

The thing that I remember most about the trip though, is the cycling. The feeling of waking up in one town, cycling the whole day and then ending up in another town. That's the real essence of touring cycling. It's such a great feeling to cycle one-way only. It's been in a year since I had that feeling, and I'm glad I found it again. I started out really weak, but as we climbed more and more hills my leg muscles found back the strength from last year, and finally during the last few days of the trip I was able to enjoy the tough bits again. All this cycling inspired me to go on a cycling trip again this summer. I'll probably cycle back from London to Groningen, but I might make a few detours along the way. A plan is slowly forming in my head..

So, to summarize: Sicily: bloody great! Highly recommended and well worth a visit.

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