Thursday, August 30, 2012

Siracusa - a trip to remember

I always wanted to travel to Sicily by boat, a medium size boat I mean not a passenger liner and when the opportunity came some two weeks ago I immediately accepted, but also froze.

I love the sea and anything to do with the sea, boats, sailing, snorkelling, diving, fishing etc., but I also have a deep respect towards this massive liquid body and sometimes also a bit of fear. I learnt from one of my diving instructors that there is nothing wrong to be afraid, "sometimes if you are not slightly scared that will be the beginning of your demise", he used to say. 

So what I was scared of? Well for starters I was given the task to get familiar with the GPS system, of which I knew nothing about and to learn how to use it to navigate to the desired port and that in itself was quite a responsibility. Next was the fact that I was going to be with two other people (my father and my brother in law to be), whom although I know quite well, I had never spent so much time and in such close quarters with… obviously one has some anticipation no? 

The departure day arrived real quick and after struggling to come to my senses at 430am with the help of some subtle threats from Gabi (my girlfriend) and the obvious third cup of coffee I was ready to go. 

Engines on, gps set all systems check go! The sea was amazingly calm and it gave us opportunity to speed up fast towards our target. One thing that amazed me is how fast Malta disappeared out of sight! For sometime it was just water and sky, then the first huge cargo ships started appearing crossing the Mediterranean as it is their custom. As we were staring at those metal islands something stirred the mirror like waters in front of us.... Dolphins! My dream came true! There they were leaping out of the water like feathers in the wind. We saw them twice during the journey, but I will never stop being amazed to see these wonderful creatures. 

After about two hours Sicily was visible (to my relief that I planned the gps correctly!!) and we were off towards the port of Siracusa. On arrival inside the open port we headed towards the Marina and whilst refuelling we cleared all the formalities and berthed in the place reserved for us. All in place and after a refreshing shower stop it was time to explore. 

Even though it was 11am and was quite hot, we decided to go to the huge church of Santa Maria dell Lachrime, which for me is quite an amazing modern monument - although some might differ in opinion.

After the visit and some more going round in Ortigia the old city of Siracusa, we got ourselves a car and prepared for the evening. The evening out was marked with one main ingredient - food and more food - but this seems to be the norm when three guys are on their own on holiday in Sicily - as this carried on for the rest of the stay! 

The next day (obviously after breakfast) we went to get our car and started off to Riposto to view the Marina - a really nice place with a huge Marina indeed. After this long drive and brief visit we decided to head towards "La Gola dell'Alcantara". I had never been there and it was worth all the drive and all the steps to get to it. Its a place where lots of people gather to swim in the Alcantara river. The water is freezing cold and it was such a healthy relief to jump in. After this refreshing stop it was time for Matthew to visit Taormina so we headed up to the hill city. But the heat had the better of us all and after some time strolling around we decided to slowly (just saying) drive back.

On the last day we thought to go to some other sea side villages and I opted to take the lot to Acitrezza for a fish lunch - it was amazing and I recommend it to anyone visiting these parts to pay a visit to this place! After what seemed to be a never ending lunch we went to St.Maria Della Scala, a tiny sea side village with a beautiful port. Satisfied (and bellies too full) we drove our little Cinquecento to be on time to return it to the rental company.

The next morning it was time to return back and this time the sea wanted to show a bit it's other side. With quite a big swell we went out of the port and headed toward the foot of Sicily and then towards Malta. North East wind gave us a tail wind helping a bit in the push, but had to keep a limited speed due to the swell which went increasing as time went by. 

Nevertheless we arrived back safe and sound, with a baggage of memories and a wonderful experience to share! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sea Rescue

Yesterday I witnessed for the first time a sea rescue by Helicopter. A 7 year old girl who had developed critical complications after the boat she was on sunk off Mellieha in Malta. More details about this unfortunate incident here.

Although I do not know who the people on the stricken boat were I would really like to thank all the people involved in the rescue.... THANK YOU! You do an amazing job and sometime we lack to even show appreciation for all the great efforts you do on a daily basis!!

Here is a short clip of yesterday's rescue - I apologise for the quality but it was taken using my cell phone on another boat and zoomed in (stupidly enough), but surely it shows the great bravery of the people performing the rescue! Thanks again!

Helicopter leaving scene with girl on board 

Morocco Mount Toubkal Climb - Day 2

Day 2 started with early breakfast from the always faithful Abdullah and also met Stewart and Simon who made part of the team we were ...