Strikers give the day added sparkle

//Strikers give the day added sparkle

chapel1.jpgSo, following last night’s post, and a day in the delightful Croatian town of Zadar . . . it’s time to take you to Palermo, the capital of Sicily.
Cruise ship Aegean Odyssey was staying overnight in port and when I boarded most of the passengers were on excursions to the magnificent Norman cathedral at Monreale, and to the Palazzo Gangi – one of Palermo’s secret palaces and location for the memorable ballroom scene in Visconti’s 1963 film, The Leopard.
A general strike was threatened for the next day, but Voyages to Antiquity guests weren’t going to allow a trivial matter like that ruin their day. In fact it was difficult to tell whether there was a strike taking place or not – the place is chaotic at the best of times.
Up bright and early and out of our cabins at the gentle urging of cruise co-ordinator Alison, we were soon on a coach fighting its way through streets clogged with battered Fiats and buzzing Vespas, to the Palatine Chapel, built in the 12th Century.
With its 12th Century gold mosaic walls and ceilings (above) it is a Monreale in miniature; if anything the smaller size exaggerating the richness of the decoration which combines elements of Latin, Byzantine and Arabic design.
domes.jpgIn contrast, the nearby church of San Giovanni is almost bare of any decoration, though there are traces of thousand-year-old wall paintings and the design of the building again combines solid square Norman with Arabic roof domes. A visit to the similarly schizophrenic Palermo Cathedral concluded the morning’s activity and then it was back to the ship.
For the first time, that strike showed its effect; our departure was delayed by the late arrival of a fuel tanker. But what a blessing in disguise that turned out to be a few hours later.
Darkness had fallen by the time Aegean Odyssey arrived at the island of Stromboli. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and its night-time pyrotechnics are a popular draw for passing cruise ships. Hang around for 20-30 minutes and you’re almost guaranteed to see a spurt of red-hot molten lava thrown into the sky; if you’re lucky, you might see balls of fire crashing down the mountainside.
What we got was a hundred times better than I have seen on previous visits. The mountain was erupting spectacularly for almost a full hour; almost continuously from one vent and occasionally – and very violently – from a second.
It was an awesome natural fireworks display, and who knows whether we would have missed it completely had we arrived on schedule. So a big thank-you to the striking Sicilians. Perhaps the grumpy Greeks will do us a similar favour over the next few days on my current voyage aboard mv Discovery.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:00+00:00 3 October 2011|Cruise Destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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