I can’t believe it is only 5 weeks until we are off on our Big Trip! Doing a trip like this is something that Jon and I have talked about for 8 years, but it has always been a bit of a pipe dream. Now suddenly, in the space of a couple of weeks, the opportunity has arisen and we have grasped it with both hands and we are not letting it go! The preparations are well underway and, although we say we are going to keep it quite loose and free, we do have a plan. A fairly detailed plan.
A two week holiday never seems long enough to explore somewhere properly, so when we started thinking about this trip we thought a two month holiday would give us plenty of time to explore. However, we quickly realised that two months just wasn’t going to be nearly long enough, so it became 3 months, and then 100 days (because that is a nicer round number), and now it is up at 102 days (so that we do not arrive home the day before our wedding anniversary). Not only are we now up at three and half months, but we have also reduced the number of countries being visited. This is to give us the opportunity to get to know some of the places along the way, not just have a couple of nights at every stop and move on; a conveyor belt of crags that all start to merge together and become a bit of a blur. So we have limited the itinerary to 3 countries: Italy, Greece and Turkey.
Another key ingredient was to limit our air travel, so we will fly to our first destination and fly home from our final destination, all the rest will be done by train, ferry and car. We are going to start the trip by flying to Rome. Italy is somewhere we have always enjoyed visiting, some of our most memorable holidays and the best climbing trips have been in Italy. After a couple of days sightseeing and eating pasta in Rome, we will head down the west coast by train to Salerno. This will be our first climbing destination, not far from the Amalfi coast where we had a fabulous time climbing a couple of years ago (there are photos of the climbing around Positano in the Gallery). After that we take our first ferry across the Tyrrhenian Sea to Catania on Sicily. We first went to Sicily in March this year (photos of that trip are in the San Vito blog post), and had such a good time that it immediately went onto our “must go back to” list. Unfortunately, this list gets bigger with almost every trip we take! On this visit we plan to take in more of the island, we will revisit San Vito Lo Capo, but also climb in the areas around Syracuse, and head out to Stomboli to fulfill one of my life-long ambitions to see an active volcano (I am so excited about that!).
After a few weeks on Sicily we will head back over onto the mainland and continue up the toe and into the heel of Italy, visiting whichever crags appeal to us along the way. Our final Italian destination will probably be Brindisi from where we will catch a ferry across to Greece for the next leg of the trip, but more about that in another post.
Sicily is such a diverse and fascinating place, I am relishing the chance to see more of it. With a long history of many different cultures converging in one place there are plenty of things to see and do on the non-climbing days, from the Medieval hill top villages near San Vito to the 5th century BC Greek remains at Agrigiento, via active salt flats in the west, and active volcanoes in the east. There should be enough to keep us fit and occupied when the weather or bleeding fingers prevent us from climbing.