We woke up to the morning sun streaming through our smudged ferry windows and were greeted with views of the ruggedly beautiful mountains of the Sicilian coastline. We were almost there!
An hour later, we had docked and a mob was already forming near the exit. We opted to sit and wait for it to clear out, which was a good decision. Three hours later, we went through all of the many police checks, regained possession of our knife, and were finally free of the Fantastic.
Giddy with delight, we re-packed our panniers and headed out under crisp, overcast skies into the city of Palermo. First stop, ATM. Second stop, FOOD! A kind police officer pointed us in the direction of a nearby neighborhood where we were sure to run into markets and small food shops.
Riding around the city, still decorated from the holidays, it was striking to see the relatively clean, abundant wealth that surrounded us. What a huge relief it was to know that we now had cheap, pay-as-you-go internet access everywhere, and were literally surrounded on all sides by resources. We could find ANYTHING we could ever need or want in this city!
What we wanted most of all was food, considering it was now noon and we hadn't eaten a thing. At a small meat and cheese shop we ogled the vast array of delicious food around us before ordering. Ten slices of Salami Milano, ten more of Speck, a hunk of aged Parmigiano, and a loaf of freshly baked crusty bread with a delicate dusting of sesame seeds made their way into our shopping bag. Stocked up for lunch, we leaned our bikes against a building, pulled out our walkstools, and watched the bustling traffic make its way over the cobbles.
After lunch, we headed back to the ferry port to buy our tickets for our next trip: to Salerno. Everything prepared, we had just to wait until our ship sailed at 6:00. Time to find a cafe. We easily located one right by the port and whiled away the hours over several cappuccinos. The cafe was a glowing warm haven, brightening up the gray afternoon with its sparkling clean glass windows reflecting its many decorative lights.
In the cafe, sophisticated Sicilians decked out in designer sunglasses and knee-high black leather boots eyed the exquisitely-designed marzipan sculptures of fruit, perfectly decorated chocolate tarts, mounds of colorful gelato, and of course, the trays and trays of handmade ricotta-filled cannoli. Charming, well-dressed male baristas straightened their bow-ties as they expertly poured perfect espressos and cappuccinos. People smiled and talked to us, young couples made out in the cafe, and there were many "ciao!"s that made us smile.
Over a few pastries, cappuccinos, and scoops of gelato, we sighed and smiled, exclaiming repeatedly to one another, "God I love Italy!"