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Purple scooter.

Purple scooter.

We picked up a map of Sicily and went to find a cafe to spread the map out. I think there is one straight road on the whole island and that is the one that goes around and has the sea on your right or left depending which way you are travelling. All the rest have curves, loops and serpentines. It is a very good job that we are not in any hurry. It looks lumpy in the extreme.

Palermo from the ferry.

Palermo from the ferry.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Ballaro market, Palermo, Sicily.

Ballaro market, Palermo, Sicily.

We have been waiting for some equipment to arrive. I am almost embaressed to admit that it is two inflatable pillows. I wish it was something more manly and engineeringly important. Our pillows have been going down overnight leading to swearing and cursing. A good nights sleep is almost as important as a pleasing saddle for a touring cyclist. You could almost have guaranteed that the parcel would arrive at the eleventh hour, and it did.

Shrine, again.

Shrine, again.

The last cobbler. Palermo, Sicily.

The last cobbler. Palermo, Sicily.

Our Sidi shoes.

Our Sidi shoes.

This is art, not graffiti.

This is art, not graffiti.

There is a warm and most satisfying feeling in the smugness associated with pushing a bike onto a ferry. It need not be a long journey but the two modes of transport fit so well. The ferry between Sardinia and the island of Sicily is quite a long hop requiring you two sleep at the feet of strangers or pay a KIng’s ransom for a cabin. We slept on the floor.

"Hello Kitti"

“Hello Kitty “

Scooter.

Scooter.

Dead dog. Palermo, Sicily.

Dead dog. Palermo, Sicily.

House. Palermo, Sicily.

House. Palermo, Sicily.

Two things about Sicily had been high on my wish list. That it would be warmer and that I could remember how to spell it. It is warmer, even if the locals are wearing Goose down jackets, it is warm. As for spelling Sicily, I only hope that I improve as Esther is getting annoyed at the number of times I am shouting ” how do you spell it again “. It only has 6 letters but  every one of them does a dyslexic spin in front of my eyes.

Christmas street decoration. Palermo, Sicily.

Christmas street decoration. Palermo, Sicily.

Tuk-Tuk. Palermo, Sicily.

Tuk-Tuk ( that is Ape here ) Palermo, Sicily.

Palermo Cathedral.

Palermo Cathedral.

Square Orange tree with oranges. Palermo, Sicily.

Square Orange tree with oranges. Palermo, Sicily.

We have walked around Palermo for a few hours. In that time we have made friends with the last Cobbler in Palermo and have refreshed the soles of our cycling shoes with new rubber. We will be doing quite a bit of walking up hills here and are now prepared.

The rougher part of Palermo. Sicily.

The rougher part of Palermo. Sicily.

Side Street, Palermo, Sicily.

Side Street, Palermo, Sicily.

Backstreet restaurant. Palermo, Sicily.

Backstreet restaurant. Palermo, Sicily.

Morning light and shadow. Palermo, Sicily.

Morning light and shadow. Palermo, Sicily.

Africa is just a short hop away, with the coast of Tunisia over the horizon. The markets and cafes have a feel of the south. French is the ‘ go to ‘ language when Italian fails us. The place feels exotic and even smells exotic. We are I think, in for a great time.

Pretoria fountain. Palermo, Sicily.

Pretoria fountain. Palermo, Sicily.

House near Pretoria fountain. Palermo, Sicily.

House near Pretoria fountain. Palermo, Sicily.

Fountain at Quattro Canti. Palermo, Sicily.

Fountain at Quattro Canti. Palermo, Sicily.

House gable end. Palermo, Sicily.

House gable end. Palermo, Sicily.

It is always a good idea to document a new place just as soon as you can and before things become familiar. I always try to do this with a new location. Most of the times it falls a little flat, with just a few images that make the cut. Palermo has been exceptional. A few hours walking around and I have this little documentary to show for it. Hope you like it. I think we may have found that mythical place. A sort of bike touring Narnia, the place where you can tour in winter without needing a Visa or freezing.

Ape (ital. for "bee").

Ape (ital. for “bee”).

8th Dec. Festival of the Immaculate Conception. Palermo, Sicily.

8th Dec. Festival of the Immaculate Conception. Palermo, Sicily.

Chained bike. Palermo, Sicily.

Chained bike. Palermo, Sicily.

At the Madonna shrine.

At the Madonna shrine.

Blessing round after mass. Palermo Cathedral, Palermo, Sicily.

Blessing round after mass. Palermo Cathedral, Palermo, Sicily.

Local cheese for sale. Palermo, Sicily.

Local cheese for sale. Palermo, Sicily.

Balloons.

Balloons.

Chiesa di S. Ignazio all Olivella. Palermo, Sicily.

Chiesa di S. Ignazio all Olivella. Palermo, Sicily.