Today was a maintenance day mostly. We woke early as we wanted to drive to the US Navy base at Sigonella to take care of laundry and shopping. We covered about 150km’s to the base, and the traffic was Sunday light. Large sections of the freeway we traveled on were under construction or heavy maintenance, and we got a little turned around for awhile, but recovered without too much trouble.
Arriving at the Navy Base we were not sure what the procedure would be to gain access. In Spain it was pretty complicated, in Germany it was as easy as the US, and here it was easy also. In Germany and Spain there were limits on what facilities we could use, but here in Italy we could use everything. All of the chores were taken care of mid-afternoon. Our original plan was to stay somewhere close to the Navy base, but the pickings were slim.
As we were driving down the coast we realized Mount Etna, was having a minor eruption. It turns out it has been putting out ash clouds now for a few days, and it was strong enough on Wednesday that they had to close the main airport for Sicily.
Our plan for tomorrow is to visit a town called Taormina, so as it was early I decided we would head there. It was a short hop up the coast on the freeway, which for the last 20km’s turned into a tollway. I was a little distracted as we came to our exit and blew right by it, so we had to go up one extra exit. At the exit as we pulled into the toll booth I noticed everyone was paying with cash. We panicked as our smallest bill was a €20. The machine coughed up €18 in change with no problems.
Greta Garmin sent us up a national road, but it turned into a driving test as the road was a beautiful seaside road but quite twisty, and with cars parked fairly randomly in one or sometimes both lanes it was a tight squeeze at a couple of points. The good news though was we realized that the Sosta (Italian for Aire) we are using tonight is located quite close to the ocean. If we had taken the right exit we would never have known that.
After an early dinner Ton proposed we walk on into the town. Giardini-Naxos is a postcard beautiful Mediterranean fishing port town, with incredible views. There was a cruise ship in port, and as the sun set the harvest full moon was rising over the ocean. The walk around the port was pretty romantic. It was a fantastic end to a day that we had low expectations for, and all because I missed an exit on the freeway.