Our party of nine all had different travel plans before kicking off the tour in Palermo. Eventually we all arrived and gathered for lunch prior to the welcome meeting.
Our large group, plus Janet’s relatives from Partanna, ate our first meal altogether at a trattoria called La Locanda. After a bit of wine, and a Google translate message of “When are you getting married?” Jeff proposed to Justine! Our waiter, Luigi, poured us all some of his homemade limoncello and everyone celebrated the engagement! What a way to start off the trip!
At the welcome meeting that afternoon we met our lovely Sicilian tour guide, Mari, as well as the rest of our fellow Rick Steves’ tour travel mates. We were quickly named “The Big Group” seeing as how we made up a third of the tour group. That evening we visited the Palazzo Federico, which was home to a contessa, and then got to know some of our travel mates during a “Welcome to Sicily” dinner held on the rooftop of our hotel.
On the second day we visited the hilltop town of Monreale where we toured a beautiful duomo. The architecture was absolutely stunning. The interior of the cathedral was filled with glittering mosaics, with the most impressive being the colossal Jesus located in the half dome.
That evening we had time to ourselves, so the young group went to explore. We found ourselves at a local bar where we made friends with a Sicilian writer named Geronimo, or Nimo for short. Trying to communicate with people was always quite fun. Using hand gestures, Spanish cognates, and lots of Google Translate we found out that his favorite author was Stephen King. Let’s hope we didn’t inspire any characters for Nimo’s future novels!
Later on we met up with our parents to have dinner, and ended up returning to La Locanda. Once again Luigi and his staff treated us with delightful hospitality.