The day has finally arrived – vacation! I don’t know if it is the fact that work has been crazy as of late or that a lot has been going on in my personal life, but this trip is much appreciated. We are again flying out of JFK airport since the price of the airfare was significantly cheaper and the flight options were better. Since we do not live in the New York area we had at least a 2 hour drive ahead of us. Co-workers of my travel buddy told her that we were not giving ourselves enough time to commute, park and get to the terminal, so instead of leaving at 10:30 AM for a 4:10 PM flight, we ended up leaving at 9:30 AM. And wouldn’t you know, we made it to the airport, parked and took the AirTran to the terminal all in 2 hours! Guess we didn’t need that buffer time, especially when we arrived at the Lufthansa check-in counter they weren’t scheduled to open until noon! So we had to wait around before we could even check-in.
Once they opened check-in was a breeze and we got through security with minimal pain. Of course my backpack had to be checked…guess all those snacks I packed for day trips caused an anomaly on the x-ray machine. And no Ms. TSA Agent, I am not traveling with children, those animal crackers are for me😬. After that things were smooth sailing again. We had enough time to sit and have lunch, take a load off at the terminal (aka doze off for a little nap) and pick up a coffee for the plane.
This was my first experience flying Lufthansa airlines and I must say they were an efficient airline and a comfortable flight. We had the last row in our section of the plane and could comfortably recline back while watching movies. Guess that coffee decided to keep me up for 2 movies. They did serve a snack (crackers), a dinner (choice of chicken and gnocchi or vegetarian curry), as well as coming around with wine and after dinner drinks. In the morning you were provided a muffin, granola bar, and something that looked like a mousse. Since I was sleeping and only half awake at this point, I only had a bit of the muffin. We had a layover in Frankfurt and that was an airport that allowed me to get my steps in for the day! We had just a long enough lay over to get to the gate, freshen up then board. The flight to Catania was not full so we were able to spread out a bit and get comfortable for the short flight.
Once we started flying into Catania you were able to see Mount Etna from the window, and what a view she is! Once we landed we grabbed out luggage and headed out of the baggage claim area. One thing that threw us off was the fact we didn’t go through customs…so we may be in the country illegally. But it seems as though everyone on our flight walked out the same way so I would assume we are good to go. We set up a transfer from the airport to our hotel in Taormina through our hotel. The gentleman was waiting for us with a sign and we took a quick walk to the parking lot. We were told it would be about 1 – 1 1/2 hours to get to the hotel. Since we arrived early on Saturday morning there wasn’t much traffic and were at the hotel in no time (less than an hour). We decided to set up the transfer through the hotel after researching the cost of a cab from Catania to Taormina. It was more affordable for the transfer plus it was all set up through the hotel so we didn’t have to think when we got there.
Driving through the tiny winding streets of Taormina where there are no sidewalks and the pedestrians walk in the road we come upon the sight of the beaches and the Isola Bella where we come to a stop at our hotel, Panoramic Hotel. When we check in our room is not ready and we decide to do a quick freshen up and change in the lobby bathroom to put on fresh pants and flip flops. This was surprising since I didn’t think the weather would be this warm! We walked along the road next to the beach, walked down to the rocky beach and then found somewhere to grab a cup of coffee and a little snack.
We stopped at bar/restaurant, had a cup of Americano with Classic Bruschetta and Eggplant Parmigiana Bruschetta. After this we head back to the hotel to our room…and what a lovely room and view it is! The room is a nice size and the view from the balcony is the lovely Isola Bella!
Once we got settled into the hotel room we decided to check out the pool area on the 5th floor. Once we went up there and the sun was shining we decided to put on our bathing suits and lounge about. It was nice to just sit, relax and unwind. We took lounge chairs with views overlooking Isola Bella and opened our books. Eventually I took a little cat nap and woke when the clouds came in and it became a little windy and chilly. We figured this would be a good time to dress and find somewhere to go for dinner.
We walked along the main road looking at the different restaurant menus and trying to find a place open. Eventually we made it to the cable car station, where we found a restaurant open and decided to eat there. And what a good choice it was to stop at Villa Bianca Bar! We decided to dine outside since it wasn’t too chilly and coming from home where winter is not ending, it was refreshing. Tonight I chose Mount Etna Pers, San Daniel Ham, and rocket as well as mussels and clams soup. YUM YUM YUM.
On the walk back to the hotel we decided to stop for something a little sweet. I opted for the caffè gelato. It was a nice cool treat to end the day.
We are turning in early tonight we have an EARLY pick up time of 4:50 AM for a sunrise Mount Etna tour…..wish us luck!