Summer2014: Palermo and Santorini

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Now that I’m down to only two more hours of my eight-hour flight from Dublin to Chicago, I thought I’d get started on my next post. Hopefully reminiscing about my time in Sicily and Greece will help these last couple of hours fly by….

After Roma, the girls and I headed to Palermo. I was really excited about this since Sicily was one of the few place left in Italy that I really wanted to go to. Sicilian culture has a reputation for being very strong and very distinct from general Italian so I was curious to see what that life was like. We only spent a few nights in Palermo and honestly, I don’t think we needed more. Apparently when most people go to Sicily, they pass through Palermo as a day trip but spend most of their time in the small beach towns. None of us were aware of this, however, so we didn’t plan to leave the city. Palermo was definitely an experience. I found it to have a unique charm compared to other Italian cities, one that isn’t bound up in aesthetic beauty or historical significance and has more to do with its quotidian nature. Sicilians were just living their lives, unphased by the presence of three random American girls. Unlike their cities that heavily cater tourists, Palermo was unmoved, which was refreshing in many ways. There were some churches to peruse and some other small attractions but the great thing about Palermo was its realness. Sometimes, it was a little too real. Heated family arguments in the streets. Men being slapped by women, who I suspect, had done them wrong. While some of these scenes were uncomfortable to witness, the random street gatherings that went on into the wee hours of the morning and the delicious home-cooked style food made us feel more at home despite our obvious foreignness. The Sicilian spirit was definitely alive and thriving in Palermo and it was awesome to soak it up for a while.
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Part of soaking up the Sicilian spirit, for me, was eating lots of caponata. I think I tried it at 5 different places total. I had actually tried to make caponata from a recipe a few months ago without having actually tried it. I was pretty geeked to have it in its region of origin. And you bests believe that it’s on top of my list of vacation-inspired recipes to post on the blog. 😉

Oh so I should mention that we rented a gorgeous apartment in Palermo. Probably the most beautiful apartment we stayed in. The view was great.

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When we weren’t enjoying the gorgeous apartment, we were either eating or at Ciocolatta Lorenzo. This cafe stands out in Palermo as it definitely does not fit the model of the typical Sicilian cafe. It feels like a little bit of Brooklyn thrown into Palermo. With free wifi, delicious coffee, scrumptious baked goods, and a beautiful outdoor sitting area, it’s not surprising that the girls and I fell in love with this place. The people working there were also awesome. The one guy, who we called Lorenzo despite not actually knowing that to be his name, spoke to me in French. This was flattering in the sense that he took my French to be relatively good and weird in the sense that he assumed me to be French before American despite the fact that most of my friends were speaking American English. #blackgirltravelstruggles

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Since I still have at least an hour left, I’m just gonna jump right into Santorini. Despite this probably being my favorite stop on my trip, I don’t know that I have a ton to say about it. It was more about being there and taking in all of the island’s beauty than about doing specific activities. Oh and eating! Backtrack: It was about taking it’s the islands beauty and eating.

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I knew I loved Greek food before ever having gone to Greece but eating in Santorini has really sealed the deal for me. Simple, fresh, healthy ingredients that deliver incredible taste. What more could anyone ask for gastronomically? I’ll just this time to give you a visual recap while I try to keep myself from drooling.

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While I pretty much loved everything I at in Santorini, the resto that Sooze and I went to on our last night definitely takes the cake. It’s called Nikolas and it’s located in Fira (also written was Thira) in the main center of the island. We were staying in Oia (pronounced Eeya) which is at the Northern tip of the island while Fira is more towards the midpoint. We ate in Oia on most occasions but after eating at Nikolas, we wished that we would have spent more time eating in Fira. Oh my goodness, so yummy. This place is an absolute MUST GO when visiting Santorini. It was unreal.

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In addition to eating, I did get out on the water. On our last day, I did a boat tour that started at the tip of the island and came up the caldera, stopping at the red and white beaches as well as the hot springs. It was quite lovely. They crew suggested that we sit on the front of the boat, the very front with out feet dangling off so that when we went down into a wave, we got wet. It was sooooo much fun. I felt like a kid again.

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The girls and I also went to chill in the black sand at Perissa Beach for an afternoon. I had a little bit too much fun playing with my champagne in the sand and taking photos. I had grandiose plans of posting a cool picture of my feet on the black sand and hashtagging it “blackonblack” but that dream never came to fruition.

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So that’s actually pretty much it. I would like to go back to both Sicily and Santorini but will definitely go beyond Palermo next time. I still have flying time left but the onboard entertainment is calling my name so I’m out!

Next post Istanbul!

Sabs



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