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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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October 30, 2014

Sunday and I give Agrigento my best effort!

It was a lovely morning (as you can see from my morning views) and I was in fine fettle so decided I would walk to the train station where I was to catch my bus.  Since I gave myself plenty of time to have a bite to eat, get there, and figure out where to find the bus, I left early - I think around 9:30 or so.  And here is the simplest way to report on the day - a sequential list of events, starting with that 9:30 or so.  

There will be a few more pictures at the end so either scroll fast or read what can happen to one's plans.  First here are a few pictures I took on the way to the bus station.

 I thought I knew what this building was but come Monday, I found out I was wrong so I don't know what it is but it's pretty.
And this is the postal and telegraph headquarters (I guess you'd call it) that Mussolini had built while he was pal-ing around with Hitler.
 Just a very pretty building (almost white) that made me think of wedding cakes.

So, enough with the picture taking - time to get moving - things to do, places to go...here's what all happened.

1.  Made it to the train station and found a ticket booth.  He couldn't sell bus tickets and pointed outside and to the right for bus.
2.  Followed directions and there was a bus ticket office but they couldn't sell tickets to Agrigento.  I should go outside to the right.  Did that and ended up nowhere - I mean I went all the way around the building and it was in some sort of no-man's land.
3.  Came back to train station ticket booth who got fairly irate with me telling me bus ticket to the right.  I tried to tell him they told me no but gave up.
4.  Went back outside, asked a taxi driver if he knew.  No he didn't really but I could take taxi to Agrigento and said I imagine some price.  I told him I couldn't afford it and wandered around for a bit fairly disconsolate at which point he got irate and insisted taxi and I said no and walked away.
5.  Finally saw an SAIS bus sitting along the nearby street so went over there and into a cafe which had a friendly man in it and I said Cufarro bus to Agrigento?  and yes, it would come and he came outside to point down the street where I should wait.
6.  Waited and waited and the departure time came and went and no bus which is very unusual. Finally about 12:20 or so (by my watch) I went back to the friendly man and said is the bus late or maybe not coming?  He looked at the clock and said no not late and pointed to it, so I looked at the clock which of course showed 11:30, showed him my watch and we had a big laugh over that while I silently "sure which my hosts had told me!"
7.  The bus came at the new 12 oclock, I got on, bought my ticket and off we went.  It was to be a two hour trip which meant I would get there about 2:00 and since everyone, including the website, had said the last bus back would be 6:00, I'd  have about two or two and a half hours to wander around.
8.  Ran into miles of one-way construction traffic (where you stop at a red light and wait for oncoming to finish.  We were in the worst part for 30 minutes and then after that it would periodically slow for another stretch.
9. At Agrigento, you go to a sort of bus station for all the big buses and get off and wait for the bus to to the Valley of Temples..
10. It was about 3 or a little after when I got to the site and then I had to find the john, find where to buy the ticket, find out for sure when the "return to Agrigento bus" ran and where to catch it.  That all took quite a while and a very nice American woman with a group tour got her tour guide to help me.  The lady in the cafe told the tour guide where the bus pulled up and said it ran "on the hour" meaning 4, 5, etc.
11. I forget why I decided I'd better catch the 4:00 bus to Agrigento - probably because everything had been pretty horrible so far and if I missed the 6:00 back to Palermo, I was sunk.
12. The ticket stand was on the way up to some of the ruins, including the one I especially wanted to see.  So up I went, hurry, hurry, took my pictures and hurry back down and finally around 4:10 or so here was the bus back to town.
13. We got back to Agrigento very quickly so now I had an hour and a half in the increasingly chilly, no where to wait, bus "area".  In addition to which it would be dark before the bus got there.  I looked around for maybe somewhere to get a tea or something and get out of the cold but no dice.
14. When I returned to the buses I noticed a Cufarro one and went to look at where it was going and it was going to Palermo!  I started running straight towards the front of the bus, waving my arms and yelling "wait, wait" just as he started to inch his way out.
15. He stopped and I was at the door asking to get on.  He motioned and I thought he meant to come around to the window which I guess he did cause he rolled it down and I guess told me I couldn't get on but I didn't know that because he made the same circular motion again which this time I took to mean now go around to the door so I did and he and now a man standing on the curb said no.  As he pulled out the rest of the way and left, the man on the curb tapped his watch and said "two minutes" which later I realized he must have been telling me I had made the bus leave two minutes late.  Of course, had he opened the door and let me on rather than telling me no for two minutes, he wouldn't have been late.
So since that bus was 4:30, I asked the nasty watch man about the 6:00 bus - no, no - 6:30 bus.  So two hours to wait.
16. Which I did.  After the bus left I saw a sandwich board style sign advertising a pizza place and finally located it across the street and went over.  But of course it wasn't open.  But it was inside a big building and for some reason the entry to the big building was open so I stayed in there where it was somewhat warmer and at least not windy.
17. I knew they were going to open because a guy came and unlocked the door and started rolling up all the shutters, but even after they turned the lights on and opened the window coverings, no, they weren't open.
18. About six a huge crowd of tourists came in and then they were open,.
19. Six thirty got on the bus and we departed with me thinking surely the traffic wouldn't be so bad at night and on a Sunday at that, but it was actually a little worse.
20. Got to the station around 9:00 or a little after, it was really cold now, and I had to try to find the bus I needed to get to my place.  I at least knew the number 101 or 102 and asked several people getting different answers but finally got two people who both said the same place so went to wait.
21. Buses came and buses went and more buses came and went and finally mine came, I got on, got back to the place, went upstairs, put on my turtleneck sweater and a cardigan over that and went out and got something to eat and a glass of wine.

And that was Sunday and Agrigento.  Cost probably a total of around 25E, was there actually seeing what I went to see for about 30 minutes or so, not the best day ever but once I was warm, fed and wined, I decided to look at it as a comedy (dark) of misadventures.  And here are the pictures I took.
 This is the one I wanted to see - the Temple of Harmonium - which was built in 430-440 B.C. by the Greeks.  It is considered, to quote Wikipedia:  " one of the most notable examples of Ancient Greek architecture on account of its state of preservation."

 A view from the temple area...
 And whoopee!  I found another temple back behind this one that I cropped the picture big enough for me be able to see it. 
 Another view from that area.
 A fossil of a bird wing that I discovered because I saw people getting down to look at things in a rocky field and taking pictures.  I didn't find anything when I went to where they had been and left cause I couldn't miss that bus!  This was in a step stone that I was using to get down.

And whoopee again - one more peek through some bushes and take a picture of the columns of another ruin.  



Christopher said...

Kudos for tackling the crazy public transport, and in the face of an unexpected time-change...! That temple sure does look stunningly well preserved!
(I kinda think that bird wing you mentioned might actually be a shell, perhaps a large scallop shell...?)

Chinch said...

Such a sad, sad tale and I was feeling so sorry for you and then comes the picture of the Temple of Harmonium and it's a take-your-breath-away view that you captured perfectly so I hope when you got back and started looking at your pictures that it made you feel better, at least a little bit, about the whole annoying day. Glad to have you back in the USofA. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Mary Lynne, your bravery defies all imagination. You are my hero and I hope to always travel as fearlessly as you do!

Lisa in WV

Mary Lynne said...

Well, bummer Chris - you may be right now that I look at with a shell in mind. But way up high above the sea, I assumed bird wing.

And Lisa, you make me blush and I can only say may you not experience a day like that in your travels! :)

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