Marsala to Messina
After our chat at dinner last night, It did make me wonder when we woke up in the morning, what our day had in store. We were starting our return trip home. Our furthest point reached was Marsala and we were heading across country to the ferry in Messina. We knew we couldn’t possibly do it in one day, that would be stupid!
So, we booked a hotel about half way, Ed plotted the route on Fanny the Satnav. It never looks that bad on a Michelin map. Lots of white roads and no major roads.
The morning started with a wee drizzle of rain by the coast, it wasn’t long before we rode out of it. It also wasn’t long before Ed headed off the beaten track. It was the start of a very interesting and long day! As we got closer to the middle of the island, there was a marked deterioration in the roads. I came round one corner, to find Ed had stopped. No wonder. The road was a mess. We both got off our bikes and took some photographs. It was difficult to appreciate the scale of the damage to the road, which we presumed to be earthquake damage.
As the day progressed, the road conditions didn’t really improve. It was exciting though, lots of time spent standing on our foot pegs. Once more I was very glad of the training day I’d had at MotoScotland! We had a blast. The one main challenge though was wondering what was round the bend. At one point, Ed was round a corner and I could see him looking back up at me. I hammered on the brakes, I could just tell something wasn’t right. As I came round the bend, the road surface was non-existent, it was just a pile of rubble. I’m glad I got Smoggy nicely balanced for going over that little lot!
Interestingly, I wasn’t so dependent upon ‘positive steering’ today. It was all about using my hips, bum and knees to move the bike around. At one point, the words, ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes’ was whirling round in my head. That’s what it was like. We had to shift the bikes really quickly indeed to move around, or over, the earthquake damaged roads. It was exhilarating! Fairly quickly, I sussed out how to read the road better. When the penny dropped, it made it even more fun. I could see the crash barriers, if they were twisted out of shape, I knew the road was going to be uneven or broken up. We both used some of the damage to our advantage, getting some good slingshots out of corners, like being on a mini banking midway through the bends. On other occasions, a big clue to a road issue was Ed having his hazard lights flashing. Ok, received and understood!
We headed through some farming country. We were watched by some of the farmers, who looked mildly amused that there were two idiots riding on what was probably a closed road to through traffic. Oh, sod it, it was all part of the adventure. I even squeezed a wave out of one of them, so far, the best I have had in some of the villages is a surly nod.
The whole day was an amazing experience and I have to admit to learning even more about Smoggy’s handling and how I can use a good few different techniques for getting round corners and hazards!
We are getting ‘better’ at organising accommodation. We were booked into a ‘hotel’ (ish), it was in a mountaintop village, in Petralia Sottana. On the way though, Smoggy needed fuel. Well, we headed into Alia. Fuel was being delivered, so, Ed headed off to the ‘other’ petrol station. That’s when it all went tits up. Fanny threw a hissy fit and we ended up going round in very tight, narrow, cobbled circles. I have to admit to nearly putting my side-stand down, throwing my helmet to the ground and shouting, “Bollocks to this, take me to a pub, I’m not playing any more!” It very nearly resulted in us buying a packet of cigarettes and smoking the lot. Eventually, after much piss-farting about, (and swearing) we got back to the original petrol station. It took us about half an hour. The village was not big, just cobbled, narrow one-way streets! Aaargh! GET ME OUT OF HERE!!
When we eventually arrived at our destination, dusk was falling. The hotel was in darkness. This isn’t a good sign. Finding alternative accommodation on the top of a mountain at dusk is not to be recommended. Luckily bookingdotcom provide a phone number. We were let into the hotel about 5 minutes later. Phew. I needed wine. No wine. None. We got water and vague directions on how to get into town. So, shower and a stroll. It wasn’t my lucky night. The village pub was the only option and it sold pizza. Only pizza. Oh well, feed me Prosecco and I will just have to suffer. As I am writing this, I have not suffered from the wheat intake, thank you pizza Lord, what a bonus, Ed marked it as a 8.5, it was a damn fine pizza!
It was my turn not to sleep well. At least when I woke at 01:55, I had already slept for 3.5 hours.
Now, getting out of the village in the morning was not funny in the slightest. These villages are hundreds of years old and the cobbled streets are not amusing when they get wet. It was raining. It was all downhill, gee whizz, it was scary. Ed said he was all over the place at one point, there was a very sharp right hand bend at the bottom, he nearly had to go straight on. Smoggy dealt with it ok, his boss was a bit tense.
Off through the national park, which was just ace. Yet again, we had the road to ourselves. Before long, we had to jump on the motorway, loads of tunnels and then into Messina for our ferry. What a place. It has to be the most bonkers of all the cities we’ve visited. Just mental. Not for the inexperienced driver / rider, that’s for sure. Eventually, after some heroic (idiotic?) filtering, we got to the ferry. Goodbye, Sicily, it’s been a delight. If we come back, I’m heading to the mountains again, it was a blast.