Day #8 Of Our 2016 Vacation And Cruise

Today turned out to be both a strange and exciting type of day. When I woke up I stepped out onto our cabin's balcony and noticed that we had sailed by an island. Looking closer I thought that I saw a strange cloud hanging low at the top portion of this island. What I shortly discovered was that we had sailed fairly closely by an island called Stromboli, which has an active volcano. What I thought were low lying clouds actually was the volcano gas and steam and whatever else Volcanos release into the air. 
Doing some research online led me to the following information:
Stromboli is a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea and is one of the most active volcanos on earth. The Stromboli volcano has been erupting almost constantly since 1932.
What a special treat this was to be able to circle the island of Stromboli not once but a total of 3 times. We spent approximately 6 1/2 hours circling this island.
Besides watching and photographing the island of Stromboli we mostly relaxed and I took some more of my Mediterranean Sea Art photos.
Here are some of the photos that I took of Stromboli, the volcano and my Mediterranean Sea Art:

This is the island of Stromboli. It is a small island that is just under 5 square miles and has 2 small villages which together have only 350 inhabitants. The island is just off of the North coast of Sicily 

On top of this huge rock formation that juts up out of the sea lies a lighthouse
 Here is one of the two small villages on Stromboli
Below you can see where the lava has made its way into the sea


  After 3 passes around the island over a span of almost 6 hours it was time for us to leave and continue on our journey to Naples 

Tomorrow we will be in Naples where we reserved a private guide to take us to the Amalfi Coast

Day 7 Of Our 2016 Vacation And Cruise

Today we arrived in Palermo. We had an excursion that we had decided to take to a small fishing village in Cefalu. Based on the way the excursion was written on the NCL web site and the few pictures shown we were looking forward and excited about this excursion. What a let down. It was a long drive to Cefalu and upon arriving there our tour guide herded everyone into a market/restaurant where everyone sat at tables trying different food items along with something to drink. To us this was a waste of time..time that could have been better spent  actually discovering and seeing things about this "fishing village". Personally I think that they have you go into these places in hopes that you will buy something. I also feel that the tour guides get a portion of the money that you spend in these stores. We have actually seen a tour guide bring customers in and the customers buy something. Just before walking away from the register the guide lingers behind and receives some money in their hands. We have seen this on several different occasions. By the time you get done in the store you have minimal time to see things in the actual village itself. As far as the "fishing" aspect of things, the online picture of this excursion shows old style fishing boats in an old style marina. The closest marina was approximately 2 miles away and it was rather new in appearance not an old fishing village style marina.
After visiting Cefalu we were driven back to the pier to return to our ship. Because we had 3-4 hours before our ship would depart Palermo, on the spur of the moment we decided to take a carriage ride that would take us to see many of the more popular sites in Palermo. We saw this horse drawn carriage and spoke with the driver. He handed us a pre-printed brochure that showed a handwritten price of 80 euros for a 1 hour ride. We asked the driver to make sure the price would be 80 euros for a 1 hour ride and he assured us that the price was correct. So up we climbed and off we went. There were several stops that the driver made that allowed me to get out of the carriage and take photographs.  At one stop where there were 4 fountains...1 on each street corner. I got out and walked around taking numerous photos. When I was done I got back into the carriage where we waited for approximately 10 minutes while our driver chatted away with a bunch of his friends. To make a long story short...we returned to the pier to get back on the ship. We gave our driver 80 euros plus a 20 euro tip or a total of 100 euro. The driver got this upset look on his face and tried to explain that the cost was actually 80 euros a piece and because we spent an extra 10 minutes out in the city that he would add on an extra 10 euros for the extra time. By this time we were very upset and knew that we had been taken. Because we are visitors to Palermo we had no idea how the police would react if we told them our story. The last thing we wanted was to be arrested for not paying the ride charge or for notifying the local police of what just occurred. So we ended up paying more than double the stated cost and walked away feeling really angry for allowing ourselves to get ripped off like that. Veronica and I are savvy travelers and this is the first time that we got ripped off on a ride or anything like this before. So the lesson to be learned is always keep you guard up and always ask more questions than you think you need to ask.
With that being said here are some photos from our days adventure:

Beautiful sunrise 

 Here a several photos from our time spent in Cefalu

 Veronica and I were standing across the street when we saw this man with this dog by his side. When I saw the man put his helmet on I knew we were in for a treat. The man mounted his scooter and the next thing you know his dog stepped up and on the scooter. This wasn't the dogs first rodeo ride...he knew exactly where to put his paws in order to get himself all of the way on the small scooters platform area. The man was full of smiles when he saw me taking photos of him and his dog. And before we knew it the man and his best friend were off and rolling down the road. The dog did not have to worry about sticking his head out any window to catch some fresh air. It was just one of those cool photo moments that you chalk up to being at the right place at the right time.

 Not sure what the sign shown below was all about but since I was wearing sunglasses I figured that I had better take a photo
 This is the store/market that our tour group was herded into for some nibbles and bits
 Below are several photos of Cefalu as seen when we were leaving the area

 Below are some of the photos I took while we were on the "more expensive than expected" horse drawn carriage ride

After getting back on board the Epic we went and had our dinner and relaxed for the rest of the evening.
Tomorrow would be a sea day while we headed to our next port of call...Naples where we had scheduled a private guided tour of the Amalfi coast with stops in several towns.
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