An inspiring stroll through the Valley of the Kings, a treacherous drive to dinner

Agrigento Travel Blog

 › entry 11 of 15 › view all entries
Monday, 10/5/09

Liz, Mags and I had a plan to go to the Alcantara Gorge to go hiking, but as we were pulling out of the driveway, Liz read in her guide book that it’s closed after big rains because the water level is too high. After the storms, floods and mudslides a few days before, we didn’t want to chance going there. We all wanted to go to Agrigento, but I was torn because I knew Dad really wanted to go, but Mom was thinking it might be too far for a day trip. I said let’s go, and then we can tell them how far the drive is, how much walking is involved at the archeological sites, etc., and they can decide if it’s worth it for them to go.

We had a gorgeous day, and the driving was very easy on the new highways which went directly there, using “Sybil”, our new GPS.
We called the old one “Marjorie” because she had a British accent (Dad’s GPS that he brought from home has an American accent and he calls her “Caroline”, so whenever we get in the car together, someone asks if we’re bringing Marjorie (now Sybil) or Caroline. Sybil was living up to her multi-personality reputation that day. She decided to send us on a route that was completely screwy - through a half an hour of back roads - when I was pretty sure we were just supposed to get on the A18, like always. Sure enough, we looked at the map, and that seemed right, so we just ignored Sybil and got on the A18.

It took about 2 1/2 hours to get to Agrigento and we went to the first restaurant listed in our book, which was closed, so we went to the closest one after that, inside a small hotel.
A style-less place with out-dated decor but with a surprisingly funky modern bathroom with automatic everything and dark surfaces - it came out of nowhere.

The Valley of the Temples was marvelous - and not very crowded. I think we just got there at the right time, because tour buses were coming in droves when we left at sunset. Got gorgeous pix, had a lemon granita. I had been to Agrigento 13 years ago, and had a photo in my mind of the statue of the guy lying down - we found it, but learned it is actually a reproduction and the real one is in the museum.

I received several text messages and phone messages while we were in Agrigento - there was some snafu about Roberta's arrival at Catania Airport. Dad was supposed to pick her up, but apparently had been there twice already because of miscommunication about delays, etc.
On our way home, they asked us if we were close to the airport and could we pick her up so Dad wouldn't have to go a 3rd time. We turned around and headed towards the airport, and then got another message that Roberta had arrived at the villa by taxi (which, we learned later had cost 100 Euros for the 25 minute ride). Dad was suitably annoyed, and even more annoyed when he learned we went to Agrigento without him, but we told him it wasn't 4 hours away as we thought, and he and Mom and Roberta could easily walk it.

Since this was the one overlapping day where both Lynn and Roberta were at the villa at the same time, we decided we'd all go out to dinner, 10 minutes away in Aci Trezza, where we hoped to find a nice restaurant on the water where we could see the monoliths in the water.
It was my turn to drive, and the other car would follow us, and we would use Sybil's GPS directions. Sybil was in a mood. She sent us through the smallest roads imaginable, and she even tried to send us down a couple of one-way streets - the wrong way. After an hour, we switched lead cars, and Dad's GPS got us to the harbor.

We found a restaurant on a boat with a perfect view of the rocks, if only they were lit up so you could see them. The waiter was annoying - I think he figured we were a tour group or something, and he kept pushing us to order big platters of family-style food rather than ordering individually. I insisted (in my crappy Italian) on the latter, but it took several minutes of convincing him that we had no intention of ordering big platters; we had vegetarians and lactose-intolerant folks, and anyway, that didn't matter because we wanted to choose our own meals, thank you very much, and sorry if that's more work for you and less money than the marked-up big platters. After the stress of driving and arguing with the waiter I just wanted to just eat. The food was good and I was able to relax over a couple of glasses of Nero d'Avola. The drive home was indeed more like 10 minutes. Damn Sybil.
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photo by: Vlindeke