9 Travel Questions I Wish I’d Been Asked: SiciliaSTAFF — By Estrella Azul on July 10, 2012 at 01:10
By staff writer Estrella Azul. Photos Copyright © Estrella Azul.
RIGHT AFTER SHE published it in September 2011, I read Gretchen Rubin’s blog post, 9 Questions To Ask About Someone’s Big, Life-Changing Trip. It made me think long and hard about my traveling thus far, and how I never really got asked all the important questions from the people around me.
Have you ever had that happen after a trip?
I have decided to answer these questions now. Starting with my trip to Sicilia, Italia in November 2010.
And . . . what better place to share than here on Milliver’s Travels?
Travel Questions About My Trip to Sicilia, Italia
1. What was the best moment of the entire trip?
The best moment of the entire trip was that half a day I spent on the rocky beach of Siracusa. The company was nice but, most importantly to me, I got to let go. I let go of worries and relaxed. I let go of conflicting feelings. I watched the waves crash into and break on the rocks. I stared into the distance, the sun reflecting from the clear blue water, while emptying my mind of everything that was pulling me into a hundred different pieces at the time.
I pulled my pen and notepad out, quickly scribbling down a few thoughts for a poem. This poem, Breaking.
(I wrote down thoughts for a couple more poems on a different beach, too.)
2. What are two interesting things about Sicilia that the average person doesn’t know?
As I said in my travel article about Taormina, in one of the piazzas where we stopped to admire the view I noticed some padlocks fastened on the railings. My friend told me they’re called “love padlocks.”
I hadn’t heard of the love padlock tradition before seeing these, but I found out it’s a custom in various places all over the world. Wikipedia said so. (By now, the first love padlocks have appeared in my Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca as well!) I love the way they symbolize eternal love.
Another interesting thing is the Bannera dâ Sicilia, the Sicilian flag. The flag is notable for the presence of the triskelion: the head of Medusa framed by three wheat ear and three bent legs. This current design only became the official public flag in January of 2000.
3. Tell me about one person you met.
I met many wonderful people, all of whom were so kind and sweet to me. I honestly couldn’t talk about just one, and will not bore you with the rundown.
So my answer to this question will be a bit of a stretch. Ever since my friends and I visited the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo, the memory still stands out to all of us; one that left us tongue-tied for the rest of that day. The face of Rosalia Lombardo is etched into my memory forever.
After returning home, I dreamed about the catacombs. I felt compelled to write about her. It turned into a piece of flash fiction: Sleeping beauty of Palermo. I can’t even begin to comprehend the sorrow her family must have felt.
I wish to go back to visit Rosalia Lombardo’s resting place, on or near what would be her 100th birthday on 6 December, 2018 (or her 100th year of being in the Catacombs, in 2020).
4. Now that you’ve been there yourself, when you think of Sicilia, what’s the first image that comes into your mind?
Referring to my previous answer, I took a lot of pictures on that trip, but not a single one in the Capuchin Catacombs. It somehow didn’t feel right to do so.
Despite that, the first image that comes into my mind when thinking of Sicilia is the face of Rosalia Lombardo.
5. What was the hardest or most frustrating part of the trip?
The most frustrating part of my trip to Sicilia was having to purchase another plane ticket on the spot from Rome to Catania, because my original ticket was accidentally booked for a flight from the day before. I wasn’t happy about having to check my bag on the flight home from Rome to Cluj-Napoca either. Having flown with it as a carry-on up until then, on three different flights in under ten days, it never crossed my mind it would be a problem. I’m not too fond of airline “tricks” to get more money out of me.
The hardest part, however, was leaving Sicilia. I recall getting teary-eyed several times while waiting for our departure from Catania to Rome; then back from Rome to Cluj-Napoca.
Airports are sad places just as much as they are full of fears, opportunities and adventures to be had.
6. Did anything go wrong that seems funny now?
Something did go wrong. I wasn’t off the plane for a total of two hours before a guy walked up to my friend and I at the grocery store and started talking to me, asking me how long I was staying and whether I’d like to meet him later. He wasn’t exactly taking “No” for an answer before my friend noticed and sent him on his way.
Then, as we were walking around in Monreale, a man started following me. He followed me for a pretty vast distance. (I have a whole photo sequence where I can point out “This is where he started following me. And this is where he stopped to sit down.”) It was really scary. When my friend and I reached our group of friends, the guy sat on a bench behind us. He sat there nearly until we left (about an hour later). In crowded places, I made sure to stand or sit next to the guys as much as possible after that!
Not to generalize, but I’ll just say that some Italian men can be quite creepy. . . .
It’s funnier by now though.
7. What little, ordinary thing did you miss from your usual routine?
I really missed reading. It was the first and last time I will travel without a book!
8. What did you learn about yourself?
I learned several things about myself on this trip.
I learned that by smiling, other people will open up to you. I learned that talking to strangers is uplifting. I learned that I can survive on my own.
And I learned that I do know how to make myself happy. Leap and the net will appear (as my friend, j, says).
9. Now that you’ve been to Sicilia, what are two other places you’d like to go?
In keeping with the Italian theme of the article, two other places I’d like to visit are Roma and Venezia.
Roma, because I’ve only seen the inside of the airport there when my friend and I were waiting for our plane(s). I would love to actually see the city!
And Venezia, because it is simply fascinating to me how a city can be located on a group of nearly 120 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges.
Estrella Azul is a young emerging writer, passionate about reading, floral art and photography, with an artistic personality and a soulful outlook on life. She is a Hungarian girl living and writing from Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the capital of historical region Transylvania. Estrella is our European correspondent, and she dreams of embarking on a round-the-world trip. To read more of her creative writing, her thoughts and daily happenings, visit Life’s a stage – WebBlog©.