* Eastern Mediterranean: Taormina, Sicily

The next leg of the trip was Sicily. Our private driver -- sporting a comfy, snazzy Benz -- drove us to the quaint town of Taormina on the northeast coast of the island. My father's grandparents emigrated from Palermo, Sicily through Ellis Island, so naturally his "Sicilian" accent joined us for part of this stop (I think he's actually more Irish than Sicilian). The island is so much larger than we realized and we hope to make another trip back someday just to explore Sicily.

Docking in Sicily.

Our private driver to the town of Taormina was a treat. It was pouring, pouring rain, but it was making the lush greenery seem even more vibrant.

The view from a scenic outlook. The torrential downpours made these shots a little fuzzy, but I had to share -- the coast still looked inviting in all its Mediterranean glory.

Rain, rain go away. Please come back some other day.

Tasty-looking shop window.

The pouring rain actually stopped as if on cue when we parked the car and took to walking the cute pedestrian-friendly streets. This pasticceria shop owner bravely emptied his awning. He stayed dry though, then noticed me snapping a photo and flashed a big smile with a belly laugh. I returned the smile -- a commiserative gesture for we knew what could have happened!

A nod to "The Godfather" and inviting, narrow alleys off the main pedestrian street through Taormina's center.

I have a thing for patterns, geometry, and reflections.

Breathtaking views from a plaza overlooking the sea.

This little car, particularly the color, caught my eye amongst the monochromatic stone. And "Carpe Diem!" is how I frequently live my life -- slow down, enjoy the moment, be present.

Creepy potting planter up on a balcony caught my eye.

Sorry for the repetition. I had trouble again deciding which shot I liked better. Color or black and white; man on left or man in center.

We stumbled upon a delicious, affordable restaurant down an alley and enjoyed pizza and appetizers (like the ham, cheese, and tomato one pictured above) while sitting on their outdoor patio looking down at the turquoise sea. Little did we know, La Cisterna del Moro has a presence in travel books and great reviews online. Lucky find for us!


A cafe in a plaza in Taormina. I think the restaurant meant to say "Sicilian Food NON-STOP." Made me chuckle.

My brother loves gelato.

These young boys and the kids at the window were messing with the pooch in the store front that was barking furiously at their banging on the glass. The four-legged fellow couldn't keep his traction on the slippery tile he was skating on. The scene was comical like a silent movie, since we could barely hear the dog's barking through the thick window.

Another mouth-watering shop window. Reminds me of the bakeries in Spain.

I wonder how many years these stylish ladies have been walking arm in arm through downtown Taormina.

Dad and I enjoyed a couple bottles of Sicilian red wine. I wish I could remember the names!

Couple enjoying an ice cream next to church doors.

The entrance to the harbor where were docked in Sicily.

Flag pride.

My father and our driver having a chat along a row of cool trees pruned high.

On our drive back to the ship, we saw a funnel cloud off in the distance. The storm that had brought torrential downpours to us upon our arrival was still lingering close by.

Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas ship dwarfs the buildings along the Sicilian seacoast. These ships are absolutely remarkable modern marvels. I will post photos from a special behind-the-scenes tour of the ship that my brother and I went on -- so cool.


* Eastern Mediterranean: Rome, Italy

Enjoyed a family trip to the Eastern Mediterrean in early November. We hit Rome, Italy; Taormina, Sicily; Kusadasi, Turkey; Athens, Greece; and Chania, Crete. I will be posting each separately. Here are some sights from our night in Rome...

My brother in the airport in Germany. I couldn't decide which one to post, so I put both. Sorry, I just love the graphic nature of the shots and the reflections.

My brother and father in the airport in Germany.

The very nice Empire Palace Hotel in Rome, Italy where we enjoyed a night.

The cool courtyard restaurant in the hotel that my room overlooked.

Exterior of the restaurant La Locanda di Bacco, where we had the most delicious Italian food. Mushrooms were in season when we went, so I ordered the pasta dish pappardelle with mushrooms. The best I've had in my life.

On a walk the next morning, a vehicle-lined side-street near our hotel and a more major-street lined with orange trees (that appeared to have seen better days!).

An art sculpture in the center of a round-about in downtown Rome (Pietro Consagra, Giano Nel Cuore Di Roma, 4-10-1997).

Old and new: Roman architectural sculptures and motorbikes.

Rihanna and Armani were everywhere in Rome.

Rome's habor pilot boat speeding along the ship.