It was unfortunately time to leave Rome and head back to Palermo. The bed bug infestation made this reality much easier to cope with. Early Sunday morning we walked my parents to the bus stop so they could catch their flight to Brussels! We had originally planned to go with them, but given that our vacation coincided with holiday break, the flight costs were absolutely outrageous. We loved Belgium when we first visited Europe, so I guess it is just one more excuse to take another trip back!
After walking Curty and Deb to the bus stop at 4:30AM, Paul and I went back to the apartment to pack our things and get ready for our long trek across Rome to the train station. There was a bus, but of course I wanted to save a few Euros and we walked the entire way. Unfortunately, Google Maps failed to mention that the entire trip was uphill. I also didn’t account for the fact that we would be carrying a lot of luggage. It was not a particularly pleasant walk/run, and I’m sure that the locals got a good laugh watching me try to keep up with my tall husband. After a few miles of luck and good navigating, we made it to the train station and located our train and a Macchiato.
The train ride was an all day affair, it was close to 12 hours long to get from Rome to Palermo. We had one train change and we also had to load the train cars onto a large ferry to get to Sicily. It was a nice ride, and Paul and I had seats together the entire trip which was rather fortunate. Only after we reached Palermo and talked to Paul’s coworkers did they laugh in astonishment that we actually took the train the whole way. Apparently we should have taken a passenger ferry from a city along the way – oh well, better luck next time!
Paul and I spent the rest of the time in Palermo enjoying each others company. We always went out on Sunday evenings for a walk to look for Paul’s favorite street band – King of the Road. They played a lot of American music, so we usually threw a Euro or two their way and enjoyed the tunes. We cooked a lot of dinners and worked on finishing up all of our food before it was time to depart.
For Christmas we were invited over to Paul’s boss’s house to have dinner with her family. We were so thankful for the invitation. Palermo was silent on Christmas – it seemed that everyone was inside celebrating with their loved ones. When we arrived, we were greeted with warm hugs and kisses and served one of the best meals I have ever tasted! The first course was garlic and olive oil broccoli over fresh bread. Our main course was fresh homemade pasta and seafood from a local fisherman. The food was never ending, and I could barely walk by the time we left. It was the perfect evening.
On Christmas morning, we ate biscotti di pasta di mandrle, these wonderful almond cookies that partner perfectly with rich italian coffee. We also tried marzipan, because it was a special holiday occasion, and it is a bit expensive. Bakeries all over town were selling marzipan, so we had to see what it was all about. Turns out, neither Paul or I were a fan of the sugary dough, but they sure do look beautiful! It was a nice little Christmas in Palermo, and our last Christmas together as a pair! Definitely a memorable year indeed!