Friday 8 July 2016

Vista Vacation: Expedition Etna

Messina is the third largest city on the island of Sicily. It is located on the tip of Italy's boot, which gave us a hazy view of the Strait of Messina. We chose our excursion without knowing much about Messina. There are two main attractions: Taormina and Mt. Etna. We would have loved to see both, but we were on a budget. We ended up choosing to see Mt. Etna, Italy's most active volcano, which is also o a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There was multiple Carnival tours for Mt. Etna, with the most expensive one being Mt. Etna at 10, 000 ft ($200). We viewed Mt. Etna's Silvestri Craters at 6, 500 ft ($60). Mt. Etna was an hour and half away from the port. Unfortunately, we woke up late for the excursion and barely made it to our meeting point. We slept through the entire bus ride, and missed all of Sicily's beautiful landscape. I guess I just partied too hard on my birthday the night before (I'm just kidding, we didn't).


Our tour guide, Val, was very knowledgable about Messina, and she liked to talk a lot - a little too much. Once we arrived at the crater, we separated from the group and explored on our own. It was a pretty awesome experience. We got to walk around one of the craters (top right), and the views of the mountainous landscape from the crater were stunning (bottom left). It was a very larger than life feeling.

We didn't have much free time and with the crowds up at Mt. Etna, it was even harder to enjoy our free time. Bathrooms had long lineups, cafes were full, and gift shops were packed. There were over 20 tour buses up on the volcano. We had seen the Celebrity Equinox with us at the port, so the crowds was expected. By noon, the buses started to leave, as did we. The roads down the mountainous regions back to the ship were very windy (bottom left).

When we reached the port, we decided to head back to the ship for a quick lunch before coming back for a stroll. Hawkers were lined up along the terminal, trying to sell passengers souvenirs through the fence. Souvenirs at Messina were some of the most inexpensive ones during our entire cruise.

After lunch, we left the ship again to explore the port. We were there on a Sunday, so a lot of stores were closed. We stumbled upon the Cathedral of Messina by accident. We were trying to find a souvenir shop that was opened, and just around the corner, we saw a large square with a bunch of hawkers. As we turned the corner, we saw the cathedral. It was accompanied by a bell tower with the largest mechanical and astronomical clock in the world. It was opened so we walked through quickly, admiring the Gothic architecture. We walked back to the port shortly after, stopping for a croissant and cappuccino at a cafe along the way. There were only two cafes opened by the port, and they were busy. When we got back on the ship, we went straight to the deck to take some pictures of the golden Madonnina. Val had told us that the port of Messina is protected by a golden statue of the Madonnina.  It was a seven metre high gold statue, and it is indeed very magnificent.

The entertainment that night was Flick. We caught part of the show before dinner, but we had to leave to for dinner, and we came back afterwards, to watch part of the end. I wish we could have seen the entire production from beginning to end, but that darn dinner seating just didn't work for us. The Carnival Playlist Productions cast of singers and dancers brought the silver screen to life on this cinematic adventure. The singers performed soundtrack favourites such as Take My Breath Away, My Heart Will Go On and Skyfall. It was a high energy show, and it shouldn't be missed.

I had two soups to start (I know! I'm a soup addict!), one was a squash soup and the other a hearty vegetable soup. The boyfriend tried a quiche, and a plate of cured meat. I also had two entrees (tee hee), I had fish again and a macaroni carbonara. I had asked for a side, but apparently, since they are pre-plated, I had to have the entree size. The boyfriend had a country fried steak. I was very pleased with the food. I was a huge fan of the carbonara, but dessert - not so much.

That night, after Flick, we went to the Limelight Lounge for the Comedy Club again. We'd learned that we weren't a fan of Tony Vino, so we ended up leaving early after Anthony Scott's show. I went back to our cabin, while the boyfriend went to the casino to try his luck.

Naples is our next port of call. We had a long, but exciting Carnival excursion booked. It was by far my favourite excursion on the entire cruise, so I'm very excited to write about it. Stay tuned!

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