A Hard Day’s Night

After 24 hours of travel (!!), we’re finally ensconced in our lovely (jury’s still out on that) hotel in Catania, Sicily. Our route was complicated and ultimately brutal. Louisville to Chicago Midway to Chicago O’Hare to Frankfurt, Germany to Valetta, Malta to Catania, Sicily. Five trips through airport security and/or customs; three of them without TSA Pre. And the Europeans want every single electronic device out of the bag – cameras, pads, computers, phones, battery packs…and I’ve got multiples of all of them. I’ve finally found the hard downside of being a device hoarder.

Things were actually pretty good until we got to Catania. We felt like we were at the finish line, only a car rental and a 5 mile trip to the hotel ahead of us. After 22-ish travel hours, those two small tasks took us over 3 hours. The car rental was the worst I’ve ever seen. Avis’ systems were down in Catania, so everything was being done with much shouting, gesticulation and the approvals of a few managers who managed to be in the wrong place pretty much always. Two hours to rent a car.

And you’d think it wouldn’t take long to drive the five miles to our hotel. Turns out I’ve 110% underestimated the craziness of Sicilian roads. I tried to puzzle the route out with a paper map, but that was (a) dangerous and (b) futile. My big Plan B was to use the Nav system of the BMW 318 we had rented (a bright spot there) and just let it take us to the hotel, but we got to the rental car and found that its menu system was in Russian. Or Polish. Or something Cyrillic.

Twenty minutes later the Avis rep had successfully changed the menu system back to English. So we entered the address and followed the route.

In my wildest dreams I could not have gotten to the hotel without technology assistance. The car took us through some roads I couldn’t believe. I don’t have any pictures yet – photography is on a completely different level on the hierarchy of needs I’ve been on today – but suffice to say I’m not impressed with my first drives around Catania.

Making matters worse, K has not fared well on our marathon travel day. Migraine and stomach problems make for a miserable day on top of all the strenuous travel. So I feel terrible for her.

This may be the whiniest weblog post I’ve ever written. Sorry about that. Perhaps tomorrow with some sleep and a new outlook Sicily will look and feel better. But first impressions are a big deal, and this one was/is pretty bad. Ciao!

Update and footnote: I’ve broken a basic social media security rule with this post, letting readers know we’re away from home. Typically a terrible idea. But in this case (a) my readership is restricted to about four family members, (b) we have workers at the house every day (putting the final-final touches on the new fire suppression system) and (c) we have our Special Forces-trained and well-armed nephew staying at the place while we’re gone. So I’m not too worried about an opportunistic break-in.

The featured image at the top of this post is from where we should have stayed, in Taormina at the coast. Catania is/was nothing like this.

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