I’ve written this post is to keep a record of everything that made my trip to Sicily possible.
As an overview to the trip, I went in late March 2016. I found it quite hot but it was probably no more than 25 degrees most of the time. I developed really excellent heat spots, but thats probably because I didn’t wear any sun cream (I know, shoot me). You really shouldn’t go to Sicily any later than April: I just checked the weather and it’s 22 degrees, at midnight. Consider yourself warned.
I went for 12 days, staying 2-3 days in five different places. I’m really looking forward to writing about the places I went: they all had a different character but I loved them equally, I promise!
For a guidebook, I took the Lonely Planet guide to Sicily. I’m a huge fan of the Lonely Planet series since they strike a very good balance between history, information to do with sights and survival stuff like hotels and restaurants. Speaking of which, they always have a survival guide to do with local customs, phrases, national holidays, that sort of thing. I also really enjoy their essays about specific bits of the place. This guidebook had, I think, an overview essay, one about the Normans, one about the Mafia, one about modern Sicily, and maybe one or two more. Anyway, they’re great and my favourite.
I also took Syracuse, City of Legends by Jeremy Dummett. This was all about Greek and Roman Syracuse and really brought everything to life. It went into so much more detail than an ordinary guidebook and I wish there were books this specific and excellent for every place I visit.
I am a huge fan of rucksacks. I haven’t taken a suitcase on holiday in Europe for some years and I don’t know how I would cope without the versatility of being able to just sling a bag on my back and head off. I guess this is something I’ll have to think about when it comes to my Big Holiday (more on that later).
I am also a huge fan of Ryanair, and this is why I always end up ‘borrowing’ my mum’s rucksack. It is ever-so-slightly bigger than what Ryanair technically allows (especially when filled to bursting like in this picture!) but I’ve never had any problems. It really is perfect for travel, with three main compartments: the biggest, for clothes; the middle, for books, and the smallest, outer compartment for bits and bobs (maps, tickets etc). It also has two side pockets: one for toiletries; one which is usually for jewellery but on this trip held my study cards!
I also have a shoulder bag, for day-to-day stuff like water, phone, current book and, of course, passport (never leave that in the bag!). I also usually develop a food bag. Travelling solo makes a bag of pasta last a long time and I’m far too cheap to leave it in a hostel so I’ll end up carrying around left over pasta, garlic, biscuits, oranges, cheese, beer… ok, so I’m a bit of a hoarder but it works for me! And when you arrive at the hostel at midnight on a Sunday and nowhere is open it’s nice to have something to snack on.
I think I’ve read more posts about ‘what to pack’ than any other travelling issue. I agree that it’s difficult and I used to find it a struggle. For what it’s worth, here are my two cents (thanks, in no small part, to reading all of those ‘what to pack’ posts so thank you internet):
- Bring more pants/socks than days you are going.
- Bring clothes you normally wear. This isn’t the moment to decide that a certain top would look perfect if only blah blah blah… NO.
- Wear old shoes. My feet are literally scarred from blisters caused by having to wear the same pair of awful, painful new shoes all day for weeks on end.
- Be vicious. If you’re going somewhere hot, leave that second jumper at home.
- Be logical. Each top is good for two days (and you can always wash it if not) so don’t bring more than that. Don’t take skirts that only look good with one top: everything needs to go with everything.
- Take clothes that can double for night time. Black jeans, black tops, dark dresses… you see what I mean.
- Travelling clothes are the most important outfit of the whole event. You absolutely must wear your big jumper, jacket and jeans on the airplane. Once you are in situ you can carry as many plastic bags as you like to get your stuff from A to B but for that plane ride you need to be able to smile winningly at the flight attendant as if you say, ‘what, little old me? Only a rucksack here, nothing to see.’
I book everything in advance. I’ve tried doing it on the hoof before and for short trips (less than two weeks) its really boring to have to spend up to a whole evening finding trains, realising the hostels are booked already, realising there is no way from where you are to where you want to go and you’re going to have to double back on yourself. Plus, planning is half the fun!
Shout out to Trenitalia and Hostelworld for your delightful services, although be warned that Trenitalia charges 1.5€ for each transaction which is kind of annoying.
In terms of day-to-day, I didn’t book any trips, tickets or entrances. I looked into it but it just didn’t seem worth it for this particular trip. There were a few places I wanted to day-trip to but for a variety of reasons it never really worked out!
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoy the posts to come.
Over and out x