Tuesday, 10 February 2009

7th February

Moved on back to Rais Gerbi for two nights prior to catching the Ferry from Palermo to Genoa.

I will finish off my two paintings as I seem to arrived back in to a rain zone.

They do seem to have had some storms here as a tree blew down on the day I left and crushed one end of the cabin I was staying in for the last thre weeks [have photo].

Sorry this is such a short dull blog but computer still not right and have of this blog just disappeared when i spell checked it!

5th February 2009

Moved on to Catania a city the size of Bristol. I did not realise it but 12% of Italys population lives in Sicily and when you see a dot on a map here it isn't a village as in UK it is usually a vast town of some considerable size.

Weather still very hot so walked into Catania had lunch, wandered for hours - actually found a shop that sends birthday cards - a rarity here as the dont seem to send cards to each other it is deemed impersonal and you must visit to pay your respects.

Had to walk back another hour in the blazing heat as you have to buy a ticket prior to boarding the bus (which is nigh on impossible!) I found one shop that said he did, but on enquiring he said they were sold from a vending machine two minutes up the road - which they weren't, and no bus passed me in that time as it was siesta time.

Just lazed in the sun or sat on the rocks watching the fishermen just offshore to hot to do anything else apart from reading my book.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

February 2nd 2009

This is my last night in Punta Brachetto, tomorrow I leave for Syracuse for two nights 3/4th then move onto Catania where I will stay until the morning of the 9th when I will leave Palermo by ferry to Genoa.

As to my pictures when the weather inproves I'll photograph them and put them on here.

After Genoa - dependant on the weather I'll either dash for home via Vihiers in the Loire and pop in and see Steven and Jill at Ville Dieu - Les Poeles or trundle [ I'm good at trundling] via Monte Carlo, Nice, Marseilles, Bordeaux and Brittany etc

If its crap then I will catch the ferry from St Malo to Weymouth which will pay for itself and knock 8oo miles off my journey, which fuel wise will pay for the ticket cost and save hotel bills as there are no camp sites open at this time of year.

If I do this though it will mean I will miss out on seeing Pat and Keith in Dover and Elly and Mr Crusty at Church Crookham so we'll see.

All the best wishes for freezing snowbound weather beaten England. When I say cold here I mean like now as I'm having to change my shorts and tee for trousers and tee. The problems I have you wouldn't believe.

Grover and Laurence

Friday, 30 January 2009

29th January 2009

Up early and the on the dot, I cant sit in their customer suite as they have an inspection by People from Volkswagen proper so they take into their shopping mall in Ragusaat at 9.15 and are picking me up at 12.15.

It's modern and tiny and Glasgow shopping centre or Bristol mall it aint.

It's tiny as I said and I walk round it and window shop in twenty minutes flat. The town centre is miles away so I switch off, drink coffee, window shop till I'm going mental and it's finally time.

The van is ready, cleaned and away I go. I can't go to the supermarket as its siesta time till four, so home I go to write this blog.

I'm staying here till next Tuesday 3rd then moving on to Syracusa, then Catania and Taormina and round to Finale and Rais Gerbi again then Palermo to catch my Ferry to Genoa on Saturday 7th. I will arrive in Genoa on Sunday am, providing we do not sink on the way [I will not struggle if we do, I shall allow myself to succombe to the waves the perfect end to a what?] An adventure? It's been more like day to day living, and of course life is the nearest you get to near death experience.

Tomorrow I've got to ring Barclays for an error on my Business account apparently. Also book my Ferry ticket to Genoa, which is something Ronnie Mckay couldn't understand either.

The van and I to Palermo to Genoa is 74 Euros [no accomodation included which is compulsory - so you are offered a Pullman armchair for an additional 1 Euro ergo total should be Euros 75 ? no??

breakdown as follows
Seat 1 Euro
van 39 Euros
Lowest quote 74 Euros
Taxes 57 Euros
Total 171 Euros

Previously it was
Van 39 Euros
taxes and supplements 35 Euros
total 74 Euros

Trust me I've checked, and they say it's right but how? This seems to be creative accounting at its very very best. My problem is I like to understand, and I don't
They'll just shrug and I'll pay .


28th January 2009

I really dont know where I am with this weeks blog after last weeks bash on the rear window by Helmut - other than to say that unbelievably, my computer, which is just 3 months old, blew up whilst i was sat quietly playing chess [and losing]. It just froze. I tried everything, spoke to friends in the UK to assist to no avail. I have to take it to Vittorria 30 miles away.

The hard drive has gone.

It takes 48 hours to repair and is about 10 years out of date software wise, but I can email etc. I will be asking Dell to reinstate to its former state with a new hard drive etc when I get back or else it's the small claims court for them.

It has been torrential rain all week and with the computer totally *anked plus the glass if I drive the Van trying to drop out, I've stayed in and have painted two more pictures - one good one rubbish.

I had heard from the garage about my window glass so I drive there - miraculously it's been there since Monday, but they were going to call! yea right, so I arrange for tomorrow 8.30 am.

The whole site went to the local Pizza parlour, the pizza arrived one or two at a time to be shared by 40 people and he never caught up [lack of preparation - he was still making the bases when we arrived!] the wine was acceptable, initially served in jugs but on the second round it changed to an inferior crap which they had spiced to hide the taste! It tasted like a weak Gluwein and nobody drank it, so he says you will have a schnapps on me.

The Germans are happy till he actually gives then Grappa, and a poor one at that. The room is cold and he charges us 8 euros a head. Why do they do that? do they think we are so unsophisticated we wont notice?

No its like everything in Italy it's for his benefit and not his customers, he couldnt be arsed to do it properly. Never the less we had a good rapore going between us three Brits and 37 Germans. I more than held my own and we spent the time misunderstanding each others words and translations, it was funnier than it sounds.

He stood at the door as we left and asked me if I enjoyed my evening, I said the company was good but the food and wine were Merda and a lot of others just walked past him - its a shame really with little effort he could have made it great there was no other food or salad offered just the same Pizza and no choice offered either.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

This past week


The week starts with such promise - glorious sun, calm sea a perfect windless day. I even met a lady who draws beautifully but can't paint, can I help? Very pleasant day had by all.

Her husband kept me supplied with wine. Returned after lunch to paint yet another masterpiece but its not right. Perhaps I will take up modern art then everything I paint that goes wrong will sell for a fortune. I think it may be the wine, so off to beach sleep and awake just as the sunset descends beautiful. Make a spag boll make my own sauce eat too much go to bed.

Similar day to yesterday sleep in to awake to glorious sunshine, but before I can get showered, breakfasted and into shorts and tee the heavens open up from nowhere and it rains and rains so much in the night I cannot get to sleep and if there is one thing I can do well in the world it's sleep

This is not the romantic travel ideal I had in mind! Since I left Blighty in November I've had 5 sunny days in Sicily and that's it. The money I've spent I could have had a month in Barbados all inclusive, But then that's me - not happy unless I'm suffering.

Had I been closer to home I would have returned, but I would have as the song says felt cheated and defeated and I don't like to be beaten. We all know as well of course that the minute I book my ferry ticket back to Genoa from Palermo, Its going to sun like Buggery! All the people on this site come here every year and say this is the worst year they can remember. Get depressed, play chess and win get fed up go to bed.


Awake to torrential rain and decide to be 100% positive today, so I get showered ahve a shave and put on some clean clothes. Make breakfast, make bed. clean Bungalow
Ring Barclays bank in UK. Sort out £490 overcharge on my Broadband account,
Ring Doctors require Medical Statement from Doctor for Pension Fund confirm by e mail.

Ring Bridgwater Housing Association need to find accommodation for when I return as now officially homeless as James has given up the Tenancy of the house he rented and is moving into his new home he is buying with his girlfriend Sarah.vSo if an old tired looking tramp turns up at your door, be kind it might be me.

Still raining. It's 10.30am, I've done all the above and the day goes well. Make coffee, No gas it has run out find site Handyman He replaces cylinder.

Go to wash up the cup, plate etc no hot water find handyman air block I help him find it flush it through job done!

11.30am following resolve to be positive despite the last two glitches I clear table and spread out my painting wares.

There is an almighty bang so I look out of the window and yes some total Deutsch nobber called Helmut (and he is a total Helmut) has backed his motor home into mine broken the heated rear black window glass and dented the door pillar, fortunately not the door.

I am for once in my life speechless He is very apologetic und ist werry zorry. I explain I am not a Happy Bunny and tell him we must go to a Volkswagen Dealer to get an estimate and fill in Insurance forms. He does not like the word insurance, I can see why later when return to the campsite, he backs in to a Bollard and tree.

Its 40 miles away, oddly he had just come back from there having had a problem with his own van, when he hit The Black Pig Its 200 euros for the rear door glass and 250 for the paint work.

He pays for the glass and its being fitted next Tuesday and the paintwork he gave me cash and I will get it repaired when I come home.

I am with him all afternoon and we get on famously, I explain next time he wants to make friends just knock on the door as backing into someones van is an unnecessary and unfortunate way to get acquainted.

Get home lock door, pull curtains its only 5 o' clock the day is young plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong yet!

The site owner owns a house opposite here 30 feet away which as she explained has a faulty alarm system that goes of all the time its raining she explains when I gently complain "Its always doing it It keeps me awake too"

Always? says I, "yes for ages - I must get it fixed" she says. Apparently it was like that last year my fellow campers explain, The Italians have a word for it it is Domani which translates as;

"Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow."

Well its ringing now and she has gone to Amsterdam and Laurence is going across the road the the house to wrench it off the wall [Storm Damage] as its still peeing down

Hi De Hi Campers

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Sunday 18th January

I'm updating this blog outside in the sun (looking for sunstroke) just chilling as James would say and I thought, would I do this blog again?.

Yes and no. No because had the weather and the usual man flu things had been better I would have been too busy but it has rained, so I have and also as the internet is so slow here I've had to email it to Elly for her to load onto my blog other wise it takes 20 mins just to do a couple of photos and 2 pages and costs a fortune in charges, Many thanks to her.

Yes, because I've always enjoyed writing (Xmas thank you letters were never a problem when I was a child) except one time when I was in primary School in Edinburgh and they introduced us to Essays and Composition (school was harder then, especially in Scotland) and the subject of the essay was "describe A Day in the Life of a Monkey" well I sat there and then I burst out crying and when asked why I said I did not know what to write as I had never been a Monkey.

On that note I will leave you ...

Note from Elly - You love to write, but I do wish you would also remember some of the grammatical lessons that Grover taught you the other week!!!

Oh and I also added in some more of the photos you sent - if you scroll down to Xmas and New year you will see them!

Saturday 17th January

Awake and all is well and with a flourish and a following wind I explore site and my bungalow and beach and its wonderful.

The sun is blazing down and I'm in a positive mood (I know it's not like me but you have to try or at least pretend!)

I start a new painting which I stick to all day even though its going pear shaped but I need to do something constructive with my day so persevere still not happy but its a start.

Went paddling today, I was going to go for a swim until I met this women and her husband from Minehead staying here. She said a woman had died two weeks ago whilst swimming here, so I wait until I'm a bit more positive frame of mind and then I'll go.

Then again, I might not.

Friday 16th January

My eyes are still sore and puffy (what would my beautician think?) and my kidneys feel like two rocks but am now walking wounded so great improvement!

Obviously it was the prawns and funghi so I shall be writing to that nice man and explaining that I wont be sending his money on as I have spent it on Immodium which didn't work in my case, but its usually does the trick. Anyway have had enough rearguard action time to look forward.

I can only blame myself for this predicament. I have only basically two hard and fast rules in this world

1. Never buy anything from the French (Axa and Societe Generale in my case)
2. Never eat shellfish (A friend died in 1960's through eating Lobster in a Bristol Restaurant)

All the lovely shopping I had done on Sunday had all spoiled so had to clean van [fumigate] but that tires me out so off to bed at 4pm.

Thursday 15th January

Wake for first time at noon go to loo. Shower and look outside.

The people on site have been very kind and they got me some fruit and 6 litres of fruit juices, I was so dehydrated I drank all of that and 2 litres of water [boiled] and still didn't need a pee!

I had no strength and could not even unscrew the orange juice carton top and ring pull by myself. I thought it was Wednesday so I stayed up for an hour still tired and don't wake up till next day.

Tuesday 13th

Of to a site called Scarabeo at Punta Braccetto which is as near to Africa as you can get from here without swimming. Its only 150 km but it takes me nearly 5 hours but I make it.

Feel awful, so I booked into a site and explain my problem. He can see I am unwell. I rent a bungalow and go to bed.

Monday 12th January

Rain is still pouring down and fog on hills. Reminds of the Woolacombe area of Devon, rolling hills to the sea. If it had not been for the lemon trees to my left or the vineyards in front it might well be Dying for a cup of coffee as no breakfast find a motorway petrol station no mean feat in Sicily they are mostly tucked away in villages a bit like 1950's Britain and drink coffee.

I am immediately ill both ends. However I press on but my eyes are sore and glasses don't work. I should have recognised the initial symptoms of food poisoning but didn't of course. I've still got a 110 km to go, but it takes me hours with very frequent stops and blurred vision. I eventually arrived at my destination to find it's yet another crap site and the bloke in charge there is drunk and of course has a strong Sicilian dialect.

If there is one word in Italian I know its sedici (its on the back of every imported car in the UK that my old company imported as in Sedici Valvole) Well it took ages for me to understand what he meant but eventually I paid in advance, not normal here and off he scuttles presumably to the bar with my lire.

He actually looked like a scruffy version of Ronnie Shanks Dad, but that's another story. It's getting dark so I go to bed, but as soon as I lie down I'm violently ill.

So I end up spending all evening and most of night in the toilet block until 4am when the storm that rages wakes me up, and as I do so - the electric goes and so does my heated toilet block. So I take a shower in cold water, dress and make my way back to The Black Pig, a journey of 150 yards but I don't make it, I pass out under a tree and wake up when its light.

Have to shower again in cold water [ never been so clean] Don't want to stay here so decide to push on yo my next stop I shouldn't do it really as its a long drive but this place is so depressing.

Sunday 11th January

Left Palermo on Sunday, nothing to report other than pleased to do so. On my way Selinunte where the Temples are. Visited Trapani a lovely old Sea port ancienne and Erich, more Temples!

Had lunch in Trapani on the beach. Bread cheese salad [I cooked] and proceeded on my merry way to Marsala where the fine Sherry and wine is made.

I don't know what I expected. I think in my minds eye I had this vision of an Italian version of a French Châteaux Vineyard, rolling fields, a tasting session or two perhaps, you know something you find in the Bordeaux region. But alas no.

What I found was a vast urban sprawl to the horizon in all directions across the huge salt flats [the other regional product] which I could see from up high as you approach Marsala. I couldn't face that after Palermo, so I turned Silver around and Tonto [Grover] and I beat a hasty retreat.

The first open site I visited was Camping Maggiolino. I don't what it means but if I had to guess I say it was a Proctologists dream site. It is an Agri tourist site supposedly the Italian equivalent of the French Passion free camping scheme, well it was so bad I couldn't move for disbelief that anyone should choose to stay there!

Fortunately no one was about, so once again Tonto and I beat a hasty retreat to another down the road which was lovely. It had a nice restaurant (which was open!) the site was clean and it was 100 yards from the Temples.

In my Best Italian I asked to camp for the night, with electric on a pitch for a motor home for one night and was the restaurant really open? He was listening intently and I thought I've got to say that all over again, but he smiled and said
"Parts of your grammar are a bit slack but despite that you can stay!"

He had lived in England working as a waiter to learn English many years ago. I sat there for half an hour chatting with him and we got on really well. Off to set up camp shower, shave etc then sleep till eight then dinner - what a life.

Beautiful meal, Prawns and funghi with spaghetti proceeded with a lovely anti pasto and the start of a litre of the local vino rosso - a bargain at 19 euros.

Awake early and of to the temples its Monday and they are chuiso but i notice the bar is open. whatever else happens in Italy the Bars are always Aperto yet there seems not to be a drinking culture as in UK.

There was one problem however, some absolute nobber had left their Passport in Palermo - I blame Grover as it's his job to look after me and his specific task to look after the Passport but he's not having that so we agree to disagree on that one.

Even then my host took charge and rang my Hotel in Palermo and got them to send a copy of my passport to him. You cannot stay overnight in Italy without producing your passport and lodging it at reception, why? because the Carabinieri say so.

Sod European regulations and travel free restrictions were Italian. Realised I had not paid him, so I went back but house was locked, the site empty and no post box and its raining buckets, so will post it to him from my next stop.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Saturday 10th January

Gave Palermo another go today thought perhaps i was to harsh yesterday. No I wasn't end of story did take some snaps of the Cathedral. It's a Mixture of Norman and Arabic styles which is self evident really but oddly enough it works both as a combined style and as a building and sits very comfortably with itself.

Ive had to give up a cheese I was buying it was called Bergmans it's like a fiery Danish blue and since I've stopped eating it my dreams have returned to normal [ which in some respects is a pity] The dreams were in full living colour almost physcadelic beats Magic mushrooms every time.Anyway this dream ;

I was arriving at a Beach House in Sydney right on the Harbour Waterfront These Beach Houses are a typical Aussie understatement, in they are big enough to keep 4 full time garden contractors like the group next door to the house we were staying at. We pulled outside everybody else goes inside I'm last out as usual and i get out of the drivers seat and watch these 4 guys in orange and gold lame obviously The Gay Gardiners suddenly go into a choregraphed set piece a cross between disco and Wilson Keppel and Betty So I sidle over and say "can I join ya mates " Bugger Off Mate were doing this for the client " How do you no I'm not the client" they click my accent and say nothing so I join um and here we are in the Sydney Sunshine dancing away them in their orange and Black gaywear and me in 3/4 voluminous Beach shorts a tee shirt and jesus sandals.

When the dance finished and i was well into my disco combo stride by then the say are you the client I say no mates and they seemed a bit peeved as gays do sometimes but asked if i liked their special show I said it was fantastic guys and we all dissolve into laughter.Nobody else in my party had seen it so when we came out the house two hours later I wandered over to say cheers mates when they pointed at James and I said that's the client .So up starts the same dance again I join in and i get into my steps faultlessly [well it is a dream] and completed my act everyone in my part was amazed everybody clapped and cheered and i wake up absolutely hysterical with laughter and crying tears with tit all

Off to Trapani and on to Marsala where the fine sherry / wine comes from. The beaches are open round there so when I've had enough I'll sleep in a beach area for the night then find a sight at Agrigento to park up for 4 days and paint yet another Masterpiece yet again!

Palermo Cathedral:

Main road into Palermo, My hotel is the white building behind the tree. As to the rubbish, the whole street is like this:

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Palermo - I should have stayed away!

Well here we are in Palermo . I think I should have taken the advice in my Europe on a Shoestring guide when it says that if you are in Sicily visit Syracuse, Taorimina and Agrigento and forget the rest especially Palermo.

But of course your intrepid explorer and male neither of whom listen very much [especially as that part of the guide was written by a woman] did not heed this warning and although having survived the day has returned to The Hotel D ' Amato an oasis of culture in a sea of effluent has locked himself in his room with a bag of oranges [eight actually], to avoid the evening meal here and "The Assassines Without".

This is actually a very nice hotel, unfortunately landlocked in an area Rambo would not emerge into as twilight falls. I was back in my room by three and asleep by five past overcome by the emotion of my day and by the fact to fit in with the locals I had to wear a winter coat whilst the sun blazed down. Had I not of course done so and dressed in shorts, sandals and tee as the weather demanded I would immediately became suspect either a] A tourist and mugged accordingly [bit like Glasgow but without the sun] always nice to be mugged in the sun the pavement being that much warmer when you come round or b] Gay as I shuffled around in my open toed sandals etc, both of which would have attracted the wrong sort of attention in either case.

Not desirable in Palermo where they have a Murder a day, Had this place not been so full of Good Catholics they would have run out of victims years ago .Anyway I dressed the part wandered round Palermo and realized I should have taken the Writers word and avoided it the like plague.

I have been trying for an hour or so to write about Palermo in some sort of a positive light and also not give you dear readers the impression I'm one of Wogan's Grumpy old Men. Or Victor Meldrew reborn although he is very dear to my heart. I actually in life see myself as a cross between him and Homer Simpson whom I see as a counterbalance to the Victor side of me as Homer is just so positive about life. Don't you just agree?

I walked in to the city from here which took an hour in my winter coat so by the time I got to the SNAV Ferry Terminali in the docks area to enquire about prices,departures etc i was ready to kill. I know what it will be i mused Chuiso for lunch, Chuiso on Fridays, Chuiso Generali or being an in area of foreign visitors no one will speak english. The first and second SNAV booking offices I was sent to were closed permanently but clearly signposted. On arrival were clearly closed. Whilst rattling the door [unnecessarily, just in anger] I was directed to the new offices not signposted yet as they were new buildings. On arrival they were clearly new buildings [about a year ago]. why did the not take old signs down or re use them. I transgress as ever.

I entered a vast building reiniscent of the huge labour exchanges they built after the war in our Victorian best brick style with small doorways and upon entering you find yourself in a huge high single vast room with two adjacent numpty's sat behind a glass screen. Like Disneyland I had to follow this immense queuing snake falling back on myself ever 45 feet or so. There was no way round it so i carried on through no one else in the buiding just me and this snake and of course the two numptys.

I reached the girl first who was doing her nails so I moved on to the other who spoke good English. I scolded my self for being negative and made my request which was to obtain the departure times, cost and obtain an brochure on there services. Certainly sir he says when did you want to go? February 7th says I. AH! says he. I cannot do that he says, why not? says I, because we close off this booking period on January 20th and we cannot quote you for a date past then. How about the cost? we cannot give you a price for that either until after Jan 20th - Brochure? Our new Spring brochure will be here soon but we have none at the moment. Well that's just F***ing Magic says I. He laughs He translates she laughs I laugh and exit stage left ala Brian Rix.

When I get back here straight on the internet price immediately available for Feb 7th at £233. same as the euro which is just a well as I don't have euro key on my laptop but I do have dollar sign.Must e mail Dell, they're based in Ireland using euros how do they manage? without a euro key how about Europe?

So I continued my deliberations through town seen some Churches some they want you to pay for entering but I'm wise to that one so I say loudly and fast in Scottish that I wish to pray,Always works Have a coffee ask for Cafe American Nero as usual. Perhaps its the Nero bit that throws them because a Cafe Americano is a long black coffee [long?] and I shouldn't need to say Nero but they also ask me if i want milk? Also i do ask for acqua frddo additional hot water to weaken the strength but almost always get acqua caldi.

Perhaps it's not only men that don't listen surely not? Find world famous cake shop Spinnatos wander in vast selection fantastic choice too beautiful to eat Cake shops likke these were common after the war but are fast disappearing worldwide for obvious reasonsVisit main shopping ares of town not impressed one or two shops like you would see in Bristol but the rest well anywere in Italy poky little one man bands gloomy and grubby.

That's what's wrong with Palermo, it has no heart it has definitely no soul. All its ancient buildings are in need or serious repair or boarded up usually both and the land around festooned with parked cars Evev the Churches although internally are perfection externally they are crumbling.

In the Old Market area are Shambles type alleyways and high medieval housing stretching for miles just as they would have been centuries ago except cars are parked everywhere, pollution is causing the miles of ancient paving to break up and the houses are full of Palermos poorest people you don't have to ask, the washing is out of the window and the clothing including the bedsheets are patched and repaired.

The streets are narrow and full of cars the place reeks of disharmony with its surroundings, its just dying on its feet. There are packs of dogs running the streets nobody notices, they're not threatening so nobody cares. There is dog shit everywhere. There is no door to door rubbish collection here, the same as in the rest of Italy, but apart from the main shopping area the rest of the streets are covered in rubbish from overflowing wheelie bins the Italians use for rubbish collection but when they are emptied apparently the dustmen do not pick up the rubbish from around them so the rubbish grows.

Dogs rip open the bags I watched them and motorist slow down to add more bags of rubbish to the pile as they make no attempt to place it in the bin. Nowhere else in Italy have I seen such filth and squalor in the streets. The narrow streets are choked with fumes so I headed for home.

On my way past the port there were men fishing in the inner harbour you can see and smell the diesel it burns your nose as you pass. You could imagine if they ever caught any fish living in there, wring them out and put the fluid probably neat diesel straight into you car tank. Perhaps that the idea.

I decide to catch a bus. I already know its a 224 from Stazione Centrali as I've done my homework. I have my map and I was going to have lunch, but all the restaurants at lunchtimes seem to be closed and looked grubby locali. The only place was a McDonalds which I avoided - this turned out to be a mistake as I discovered later.

Arriving at the bus Station a misnomer if there ever was one It turns out they park around the Railway Station and when its there turn to go they drive off round the block including my number, I tried to wave down one or two of my number to no avail There are no platforms no advisory signs, no information signs nothing there are no ticket machines, yet I know you must purchase a ticket prior to boarding and frank it as you entrada same as I have don in Milan Rome and Turin a million times its Just so different here perhaps the word should be indifferent [here].

I enter the train station to ask and find that the buses go round the block and all go through a single file loading bay so when your bus pulls up you get on board except the platforms are in the middle of the square and at 2 pm are overflowing on to the surrounding speeding car lane and she says you buy your ticket from the lottery office outside the train station she is pleased to have helped me and she thinks this all normal one dangerous platform for hundreds of people and the lottery office selling bus tickets I thank her.

I go to the lottery office I ask in a good accent for a uno Biglietto per amat I know its 1.20 euros but have no change so I give here 2.20 euros and she short changes me and walks away being British. I am politely trying to attract her attention but the woman next to me sees what has happened and bangs so loudly on the glass I thought it would shatter rabbits way and miracolousy the girl appears and so does my money!

I hate that when they try to short change you it says so much for so little I thank my saviour and she says "English?" and when I say yes she is pleased English she tells people around her they smile and nod.

I get the bus back to my Hotel Its a beautiful old Villa well photographed for the internet otherwise you would not go there. The staff are are nice and friendly but the surrounding area is disgusting will take some photos to show you what your missing. The only drawback is the food. There were only two others in the restaurant when I arrived last night so the food should have been excellent as chef had plenty of time on his hands. But no, my Penne Arriabiatta was cold, as were the plates - what is the point of serving hot food on cold plates so I sent it back but he just microwaved the lot which boiled the thin sauce dry and the main course was small pieces of steak on a plate of salad, except the steak had not been fried fresh and the green beans served with it [tinned as expected at this time of year] were watery and cold and a bit mushy.

I'm not a food snob, you don't get a waistline like mine from being fussy about food but if they cant be arsed, I can be difficult. I didn't send that back I just voted with my feet.

In summary Palermo stinks. I have been to some bad places in my life but this is by far the worst. I think it's Italian Anarchy at its worst combined with a I don't care attitude it is so sad. Am here for another night, I could move but wish to update my blog, sketch a bit and visit Trapani and Monterale up the hills above here.

Sorry to be so negative that's the way it is here, If nothing else you realize how [ I was going to say how fortunate or how lucky we are not to live in such a country but those are not the words] luck has nothing to do with it You have to care about your society and its structure and we obviously and through our efforts we have what we have do otherwise we would live like they do here.

I know that Sicily is very poor and that Palermo is the poorest part. Let me give you an example I watched 1 municipal workman cutting the grass and 6 others unnecessarily clearing up behind him in a area that one man in England would cut on his own in 1.5 hours, and the grass left behind to rot and feed the roots. They are scraping the grass into baskets and walking them over to their truck and emptying them, but talking mostly.

I wouldn't change it - that's their system in a poor country. A man needs a job To get to the truck they have to walk through a pile of debris, mostly paper which occasionally blows onto the grass - so they pick that bit and walk back to their truck then pick up another bit of paper and take that to the truck.

In the UK we would have walked over and picked up all the rubbish and put it in the truck, but that's not their job, that's some other poor sods job so must be protected.

But they will stand there, all 6 of them, waiting for the paper to blow their way, then they would pick it up! The problem is attitude, it works - why change? I've said enough, they are in the main such lovely people, it's a shame to see even a small part of Italy like this.

Perhaps the perfect Italian or human reflection would be the combination of the Swiss with the German efficiency with Italian welcome-ness and French knowingness!

Coastal road to Palermo: