Sunday, April 22, 2012
Early morning departure for Catania, Sicily. Today I join up with the Road Scholar tour group for my journey through Sicily. Roma airport was chaotic. Had a bunch of American teenagers on the flight – several “Snookie” wannabes. Please don’t let them be at the Hellenia Hotel in Gardini Naxos.
I met up with the tour escort, Enrico outside of baggage claim. Once the rest of the group arrived we climbed on our bus and headed to the hotel. We had some wonderful views of Mt. Etna during our drive to the hotel. What a spectacular view it was a really clear day and the volcano was smoking. Eruptions have caused the closure of the Catania airport a number of times in the last year due to ash and smoke, so I was a little concerned about the status of my flight. It is the most active volcano in the world and highest in Europe. It has the longest period of documented eruptions in the world. On January 6th of this year a new crater was formed during an eruption. Recently it has erupted about every 12 days. Here is video of the eruption that took place on Friday, April 13, just prior to my departure from the U.S. It is really spectacular.
We arrived at our hotel in Gardini Naxos, had a lovely lunch and went to our rooms to settle in for the next four nights. The Hellenia Hotel fronts the Bay of Naxos. I have a lovely room with a patio facing the bay. I also had a lovely surprise – no roommate, although I had agreed to have one. Had a nice dinner and a chance to get to meet the members of my tour group. It seems to be a good group and experienced travelers so that should bode well.