Sunday, November 3, 2013


Hello blog readers I have returned! 

After a long day of travel by car and plane yesterday,  I arrived back home to the house in Roubaix feeling awesome.  I had an incredible 2 weeks! To anyone looking for a quick update post that can be read in a rush... look elsewhere, this will definitely be my longest post yet.  

We stayed in this house that my host family has owned for a while.  It was Marie Jo's dad's house growing up (he was Italian..duh).  It was in the middle of the countryside, with the closest village being this place called Grotte.  It was tiny and very cool, and not a tourist destination whatsoever, so I got a lot of funny looks walking around with my giant camera, shorts, and pasty skin.  Marie Jo speaks Italian really well, so we got by having her as our translator! The Italian language is soso cool and the food is delicious.  

From the moment I stepped off the plane into the warm, humid air, I had a feeling I would like Sicily.  I can't find another word to describe it aside from "COOL."  We picked up the rental car and first things first went and found some food.  Did somebody say pizzeria?!?! I give a good 20% of the "Siobhan loves Sicily" credit to the giant pizza we (we being Marie Jo - host mom, Theophane - host bro, and Toni - neighbour and very good family friend to my host family) ordered and devoured that first night of arrival.  


Fast forward to Day 3 of Sicily vacation (Day 1: arrival, Day 2: recovery from arrival).   Marie Jo drove us to this giant rock/cliff structure in the middle of the countryside and we proceeded to climb all over and around and through and under it.  Toni has a knee problem so sadly she didn't get to come adventure with us, but Marie Jo, Theo and I had a blast!


You will soon see that thumbs up tends to be my go-to pose.  Every tourist needs a go-to pose.

Before descending into the Cave of Doom

In the Cave of Doom (look at the terror in my eyes)
After the Giant Rock, we drove to this cool place that is hard to describe so I will let the pictures do the talking:

Theophane getting crafty

My knee got a little dirty

miniature volcano made out of mud yayyyy!

Marie Jo's work is really busy and demanding and important.  She's like her own boss, and does a lot of it from her laptop, so she can't really afford to constantly take time off.  She brought the laptop to Sicily to be able to keep working, only there's rarely a WiFi connection anywhere.  She ended up buying this internet USB thing that gives you internet wherever you go, but she had trouble getting it working while we were at the house.  Anyway so there we are enjoying the countryside, checking out all the curious little mud volcano spewy thingies and I turn around to see Marie Jo has sat herself down on the ground in the middle of nowhere to see if her Internet stick will work.  It was so random and so surprising. Toni and I burst out laughing and proceeded to take photos of her trying to work her computer, while sitting on the ground, surrounded by spewing mud puddles, in the middle of the Sicilian country side.

Like what.
So basically what it was was this giant mud farm, kind of.  The whole place was made up of dried up mud, sprinkled with the mini mud volcanos or puddles that kept bubbling and spewing.  You had to be careful where you stepped, some of the really soft and squishy mud looked exactly like the hard stuff you could walk on, and Theophane and I had a couple almost-falling-and-ending-up-thigh-deep-in-mud catastrophes.  

Considering that most of the amazing food here is carbs, and I was constantly fuelling my hunger without any guilt, I felt the need to get a little exercise in.  I couldn't run like I normally would alone because I didn't know the countryside or language, and hadn't brought runners, but Marie Jo was happy to take me for a little run/walk/hike every morning which was awesome.  We got to explore the breathtaking sights, and also get refreshed by the morning exercise.  We ended up finding and exploring this huge old abandoned house which was so cool!

View from in front of the house


panoramic from the top of the hill where my host family's house is!!

view from abandoned house

Marie Jo exploring abandoned house

The next day we drove to the ocean! It wasn't even far from where the house is, and it wasn't cold or hot but the perfect refreshing temperature.  Marie Jo and I were the only two who went for a dip.


Toni getting a taste of paradise

MJ and I

yay beach ya!
The next day we went to the market in Grotte.  In France the market is usually weekends, but in Sicily it's every Thursday.  

harassing Theophane with my camera

Toni and Marie Jo buying some cheese (THE ITALIAN CHEESE IS SO DELICIOUS)

The next day we went to the live volcano Etna!! It was really cool, you drive for like 10 minutes up this constantly ascending road with this stuff on either side that looks like black rock but is really dried lava.  The landscape is really interesting too, so different because of the climate and volcano (yes that is obvious) but still really beautiful! It was cloudy and foggy up at the top, which made the whole atmosphere that much more intriguing.  We mostly explored the big dried up craters and pathways and didn't see any giant hot steaming lava-filled craters, but it was still super awesome!

omg I'm holding lava and man am I excited

BOOM goes the dynamite


Chairlifts take you up to the top! I believe that's where the crater is located.

"And here we have a rare specimen of volcano"



so pumped to be at Etna like omg

Theo and I jumping for joy

Theo in the crater

Almost fell

on my face

I don't understand why... but there were ladybugs EVERYWHERE

My first Sicilian cappuccino! DEEELICIOUS
 After we explored a bunch of the craters, we drove to a spot where you could go for a hike.  We parked the car and walked up to a nice spot in the trees where we ate our lunch of baguette, cold cuts, and Italian cheese, then Marie Jo and I left Toni and Theo so we could go explore the trail!

Woo made it!

No big deal or anything


bouldering some lava 
Etna was so awesome.  Definitely one of my favourite parts of the trip.  The next sweet thing we did was go back to the ocean! We drove a little farther than our first go, to a beautiful location on the edge of a big city (sorry everyone I haven't a clue what the name was).  It was ridiculous.  So breathtaking and beautiful and maybe I've used those words too many times already in this post but that's what it was.  We sat ourselves down on these rocks just a little bit out into the water, as opposed to the beach where everyone else was.  Marie Jo went and swam and explored with a scuba mask because there were reef-like rocks all around.  Theo and I went to go swim for a bit, but because of the rocks, the water wasn't really deep enough for swimming, and hard to walk in.  We mostly just splashed around but it was still refreshing! 

Then we walked over to this one cliff that was all white and smooth and hard to explain but awesome.  It felt like I was in a dream world, it was so pretty.

Sea-doos on the ocean... blissss

Marie Jo!

Then the sun set and it was B - E - A - UTIFUL

The next awesome thing we got to do (yeah Sicily was one giant bundle of awesome events pretty much) was go check out these old abandoned mines! We saw one kind of "mine" and the rest was pretty much just a beautiful view and Sicilian sunset.


The sicilian dude that lives in the house in the background...

...yelled something up at this horse...

...who then proceeded to climb down to the house like a puppy who'd been called home.  It was hilarious.

making Theophane wave for the camera ha

The next day we collected olives from the olive tree in the backyard of the house.  It would start out easy and kind of fun, then as time wore on it became boring and a little tedious... but soon enough we had SOOO MANY olives and the tree looked naked compared to when we first started collecting.  We took them to this place near the house where olive oil gets made.  Since there's olive trees everywhere, the local Sicilians are always gathering them.  Then they take them, in however small or large the amount, to where they make they oil, and they get the amount of oil back that they gave in olives.  So basically the more olives you bring the more olive oil you get, and it's free! 

Gathering by hand got to be tedious... so we started just raking the tree

The fruits of our labour!
The last event to talk about was our last day in Sicily.  And my other favourite day aside from Etna! In the morning we got up early to go to this museum full of archaeological finds from old temple ruins near the city, then we went out for some food, and afterwards we drove to the temple site and stayed there all afternoon.  We were there from the afternoon until when the sun went down, and Theophane and I ran around exploring and taking photos.  The day was sosososo beautiful and the countryside never looked more stunning! 

Somehow these last photos posted in reverse order... starting with the sunset! (The order of this last batch is pretty jumbled in general...)

found some old tombs!!


thuggin it temple style

Yay Toni!

Such an awesome lady!

Summarizes a lot...



there was I just being a tourist and Theophane was gearing up to shove me off the rock *cue tears*

Me in my natural habitat

Hi my name is Siobhan and I know how to be awkward 

like OMG it's like SICILY!!!

And that was my last two weeks.  It was unforgettable! Here's a few leftover photos from tidbits here and there.

Making a homemade barbecue to grill the dinner sausages on the stone terrace!

Theo gathering stuff for the fire

View from the gate to the entry of their property!

Rope swing

MJ rocking the fire building

Marie Jo and Toni 

Pizza leftovers for lunch on the terrace!


And that's that! Congratulations if you managed to make it here to the end! And thanks for reading :)

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