Zafferana Etnea’s Volcanic Past

Departing early we made our way to Zafferana Etnea to find our local mountain and naturalist guides. This town has frequently been rebuilt after the volcanic activity in the region and the latest threat was in 1992 when the volcano threatened to erupt yet again. We began our journey through this incredible landscape in the lava cave and continued up the 2500 meter cable car ride to reach the summit craters and the big caldera of Valle del Bove.

After lunch, we were lead to the scenic Monte Serra vineyard, nestled on the slope of an extinct volcanic crater located at about 500 mt (1,640 feet), a true landmark for the area. Back at the bottom of the vineyard, we headed into the traditional “palmento”, a spectacular lava stone vinification hall dating back to the 18th century, one of the best preserved on Etna. What an incredible day!

Siracusa Gastronomic Walking Tour

We started our evening with gastronomic and cultural discoveries as our guide walked us through the secrets of ancient Siracusa. We visited authentic family Tavernas hidden in little streets of Ortigia. This perfectly combined wine and food as we walked through the most breath-taking monuments of old city. Piazza San Rocco, Piazza Duomo, Santa Lucia church, Piazza San Giuseppe, Jewish district, Piazza Archimede and many more. We stopped for dishes from traditionally cooked fresh fish and typical Sicilian appetizers to unrepeatable homemade Sicilian pastries accompanied by fragrant Siracusa wine and liquors!

Cefalù

The streets of this ancient city are so narrow I can hold up the walls on both sides. This made it easier to defend the city as tanks were too large to drive in. The cathedral is the main gathering point and markets, restaurants and shops surround it. We stopped at one of these restaurants for Andrew’s daily treat!

We’ve been swimming in the Mediterranean, making new friends and enjoying great wine and cuisine, can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Antarctica

After 3 days crossing the Drake passage, we made it to the seventh continent. I was about to start a new adventure in the majestic Antarctic.

Kayaking in the bay was very exciting; being there, immersed in the silence, just you and Mother Nature all around. We watched as seals swam by and penguins jumped out of the water to appease their curiosity. Leopard seals and albatross were everywhere.

Large chunks of ice made the paddling difficult and the abundant wildlife viewing slowed our kayaking team. Then we spotted humpbacks! Being alone in the kayak with this gentle monster close by gave me a boost of adrenaline and made the whole kayaking experience even more exciting and well worth taking the kayaks out.

One morning I woke up believing that a strong wind was blowing outside. I opened the window but it wasn’t the wind. There were hundreds of Humpbacks surrounding our boat. As far as you could see there were whales and flukes.

I will never forget that day, it was snowing with poor visibility and after kayaking all day we were ready to return to the ship. Suddenly, two humpbacks approached us and started putting on a show. They both flipped upside down, showing their bellies. In a matter of seconds, one of them was under our zodiac. We heard the sound of the animal pushing us from underneath… boom boom boom. The whale was content with its belly rub and continued on its merry way.

It was the most exciting, wildest and closest encounter I have ever had. If you like whales spending a week in March in the Antarctica will not disappoint!!

Thanks to One Ocean Expeditions and Civilized Adventures for this experience of a lifetime!!