This might be coming a week or so late, but that doesn’t mean that I’d forgotten our holiday – merely that life is busy and it can take time to sit down and tap away. So the first thing I’ll say is this: we’re going back next year.
The joys of being in our early-20s/30s is not having any children (yet!), and therefore not being tied down by school holiday times for our trips to the sun. We discovered this early on, and have enjoyed Marches and Octobers in temperate climes for incredibly modest budgets. This year we wanted to be no different, and I – having not ventured outside the UK since last December despite Simon’s many trips abroad – was keen to find somewhere equally exotic and as far from mundane home as possible. After lots of hunting and one of those wonderful comparison sites, we found what we were looking for. Sicily. A full week. A little self-catering apartment. Sun, sea, and some world-class rock climbing.
Believe me, it exceeded our expectations beyond measure. Firstly, Sicily is a beautiful island, and heading there in November means you get all the benefits of a beach resort with none of the crowds. We had weather in the mid-20s all week, clear blue skies, wonderful sunshine, and a coastline warmed by the summer heat. Our ‘apartment’ turned out to be a two bedroom duplex villa complete with balcony and shutters. Here’s the thing – if you go out of season, hosts are delighted to see you and we found that this unexpected upgrade may not be uncommon if you turn out to be the only holiday-makers in the whole complex. The sleepy town of San Vito Lo Capo was accommodating and amazed to see our pale faces. Fantastic food – freshly caught fish and pasta made an hour’s drive away – and even more wonderful wine, all for conveniently local prices. What more could we want after several months of stressful every-day back home?
Oh of course, we were there to climb. As Simon’s summer was focused on training to go to Yosemite, I haven’t been climbing that much myself for the best part of a year. Instead I’ve been focusing on swimming and Body Balance which, whilst beneficial, doesn’t quite assist on pulling hard on small limestone edges. Nevertheless, I couldn’t wait to get out on the glorious orange rock, just a 5 minute drive in our little Fiat 500 hire car. Crunching along tracks the guidebook described as “Rough! 4×4!”, we could park our surprisingly photogenic steed with a view of the sea, and walk mere metres to the bottom of the crag. I know this piece already seems to be all bells and whistles, singing praises, but I honestly cannot say I’ve ever climbed anywhere better. Both in that my ability to climb seemed to remarkably improve by a few notches, but also the quality of the routes, the rock, and the location are, in my current experience, unmatched. The section Cala Mancina (part of the enormous crag ‘San Vito lo Capo Salinella‘) takes up maybe 5 pages of our guidebook, and we know we’ve barely scratched the surface. But what we have tried we love, and we are already looking to book again.
If you don’t like crowds, spending too much money, blistering heat, or being on a tourist path, then Sicily is the place to go. I might be digging my own grave in writing this, by encouraging the internet hordes to flock to my quiet little secret. But I’ll be honest, it’s too good not to shout about. Steeped in history, I know there’s so much of Sicily to be seen – the one rest day we took out to visit Erice led to an unanticipated castle in the clouds – and there’s even a whole volcano to explore! I’m already itching to get flights confirmed… I hope I don’t see you there 😉