March 2, 2017: Siracusa

Thursday.  Today is our trip to Siracusa.  The alarm went off at six thirty this morning.  It was for Dominica but it woke me up immediately so that was the end of the night for me as well.

I had about an hour to kill before needing to be really ready to get out of the door.  So I did some posting and catching up this morning so that things would be good before we left for the day.

We did decently well on time and all five of us were out the door at just after eight.  We were all pretty tired.  This is way earlier than we normally get up here and Ryan and Dominica are both suffering from jet lag on top of it all.  The girls were nearly asleep walking down the street and I had to carry Luciana in the backpack carrier the entire way down to the train station which is rather a long walk and even though it was really nice outside all morning I was very sweaty by the time that we got to the train station.

We got to the station with about ten minutes to spare before our morning train was due to arrive.  True to rumoured form, though, the Sicilian local milk train did not arrive for another fifteen minutes after that.

The wait at the platform was fine and it gave me time to cool down from the walk.  While we were standing there a good size lizard darted up from the tracks and ran across the platform basically running at where the girls were sitting.  I joked that he was going to run right at them but he changed direction and ran literally onto my foot!  He was headed up my pants had I not jumped back quickly.  I managed to get away before he had to be flipped off of me so he ran back to the rails unhurt.  These lizards are so lightning fast, if they want to get on your foot there is very little that you can do and you can’t do anything but get away as they are so fragile.  He must have thought that I was a tree or something.  So that made for a very surprising start to the day.

The train was tiny, just two cars.  We got into one that had only one other person in it, so we brought the total up to six.  We saw at least two people climb into the other car and there was likely someone already in that one as well.  This tiny train starts just one stop past us, I believe, and only goes as far as Siracusa with only a few stops in between.  It’s the very slow local train, but it worked great.  It only goes about forty five miles per hour maximum, and it makes only a handful of stops.

Trenitalia Pulling into Noto

The train was old but perfectly comfortable with nice seats, a window that we could open and plenty of space.  This is a great option for getting to the local city easily.  The ride up to Siracuse was comfortable and pretty quick.  You could definitely commute like this very easily, although the trip is a little expensive if it was a daily thing, but I suppose if it meant that you did not need a car and if they have any commuter discounts it would be fine.  It was nearly four Euros per adult, cheap for a day trip but a bit for going to work every day as that was only one direction.  Kids are half price.

The girls were grumpy and tired on the train.  We got them up so early compared to their normal schedule.  That made it tough on them all day.

Once off of the train in downtown Siracusa we headed towards the island and the old part of town.  Liesl walked, but I carried Luciana on my back again.

After a while we found a small park with a collection of small playgrounds so we stopped to give the kids a ten minute playground break, which they needed.  That helped to jumpstart the day.

Ryan had researched some cafes nearby, so our plan was to stop for coffee and breakfast in that stretch before getting to the expensive old town where the tourists would be.

Luciana with Pancakes at Angelina’s Bakery in Siracusa

We found a little bakery and cafe that was absolutely perfect – Angelina’s Bakery and Bistro.  The sun was bright so the girls wanted to sit inside, even though the breeze was nice.  So it was a little warm, but the door was open.  We totally lucked out and this place didn’t just have breakfast, but it had an awesome menu including real pancakes with maple syrup, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon bagels and such.  It was perfect.  We had an amazing breakfast there and some coffee before we continued on our way.  If Siracusa was making us a pitch for which city on Sicily we would want to move to, this cafe went a long way towards showing that normal life here could be pretty good.

Dominica and Ryan at Angelina’s Bakery in Siracusa

From the bakery it was a short walk to the island on which old Siracusa was built.  Getting near the bridge it was clear that the old town was really beautiful.  We were quite impressed.

We had a lovely walk through Siracusa on the island.  We found the bazaar going on and worked our way down to the waterfront, which was gorgeous.  Mt. Etna is still smoking today after having gone off two days ago, so we could see that as the volcano is visible from all of this region.

The girls played for a while by the water, then we walked through the old town to the castle and did the castle tour on foot which was nice.  Not a tonne to see, but it was a nice little tour anyway and in a cool part of town.  The girls really enjoyed getting to see the old castle. Part of it was under construction, though, or reconstruction I suppose, so we did not get to go inside of all of it.  There was a small museum there that had real, ancient hand grenades in it that were super cool.  Like from the 1400s.

From the castle we walked back alone the waterfront to where all of the restaurants are there and settled into one that we had checked out earlier.  Ryan and Dominica got pasta, Luciana got calamari and Liesl got vegetable soup, which she loved.  I wisely ordered nothing and just ate the leftovers that the girls did not finish, which was plenty for me.

Liesl Was Quite Excited with Her Soup

From the restaurant we walked back the way that we had come and went to a small beach that is located there.  We were there for easily an hour or more.  The girls played in the sand for a long time.  There were maybe a dozen other people on the small beach with us.  Only one person swam the entire time as it was quite cold in the water.  But there was a dog that kept chasing rocks out into the water which was quite entertaining.

After the beach it was time to head back to catch the five thirty bus back to Noto.  Luciana needed to be carried and fell asleep on my shoulder, making for a very long walk back!  She woke up, however, right as we were passing a playground.  No idea how she did that, she slept for a really long time and woke up only right at that moment.  Very suspicious.

So we let the kids play there for fifteen minutes.  Get a little more energy out of their systems before we were done for the day.

We caught the bus back to Noto.  That was quick and easy.   Public transportation here on Sicily is great.  Cheap and effective.  Both girls passed out almost the moment that they were on the bus.  They got a good nap in and had to be woken up to get them off of the bus.

We had to walk back up the hill.  We were all very worn out this evening.  It was a long day, but a really good one.  We did a good job of getting to see Siracusa today. That’s one sight down for this trip.  We have a lot more stuff to squeeze into our schedule before we leave Italy, though.  This is going to be tough.

We are trying to figure out what we are going to be doing tomorrow.  Ryan is kicking around staying here for two days or possibly leaving tomorrow evening.  He would like to do a train trip in Italy like we did and he wants to see Napoli and Pompeii if possible.  That’s a lot of stuff and he flies to the US on Sunday night.  So his time is getting tight.  His trips are always short.

Everyone took some time to nap this evening except for me.  I just worked on getting caught up after having been out of the house all day long.  Dominica went to bed really early.

Ryan napped but then he and I hung out in the evening.  Probably till about one in the morning.  His final plan is that we will go to Avola tomorrow to see that town, then he will get on the bus or train for Siracusa tomorrow evening where he can catch the overnight sleeper to Napoli and see it on Saturday morning.