We arrived in Palermo on the Flaminia ferry without a hitch. As I said before, it was an overnight trip sleeping in bunk beds in a 5×6 room. Although the sleeping quarters were small and cramped, we clearly had no problems sleeping. By the time we woke up, there was no one left on the boat. The boat was docked, the passengers disembarked, the cabins cleaned out and we were literally the last passengers left.
We stopped in Palermo as a layover. Arriving at 9am, and departing at 5:15pm by hydrofoil to Ustica, our destination to go scuba diving. With 8 hours to kill, we decided to buy our onward ticket, and spend a lazy day exploring Palermo for the day. Ah! but that was not to happen…you would think buying a ticket would be simple. First, we went to the Marine dock asking about the hydrofoil, but no one knows a thing about it or if they do, they don’t say. Then we ask information, and we are sent to the Siremar office. We go there, but no one is there, by now it’s 10am. We decide to walk around, have breakfast and return to the ticket office. It’s 11am now, still no one. We take a taxi ride to the Capuchin Catacombs, then walk back to the ticket office. Still no one. We ask the shopkeeper next door about the Siremar office. They say, it will open at 4:30– 45 minutes before the hydrofoil leaves. It’s 12:30. We decide to walk back to the book stores we passed earlier to get more travel guides, but the stores are all closed for siesta. We decide to check out more sites and eat, again and wait it out. We go back to the office, someone shows up at 4pm, we buy the ticket. Ask where to find the boat, and he tells us to the left of the main building.
We have just over an hour to find the boat– no problem. After walking around in circles, asking dock workers about the boat, we were sent back to the main building. The police officer says its on the other side of the building. No boat. I go inside and ask around, some one tells me that the hydrofoil will dock somewhere around the building, but it’s different every day–so just keep a look out for it. O-kay, but what does a hydrofoil even look like? what kind of boat am I looking for?? it’s a fast boat, that’s all I know.
So, we sit outside, waiting with another English speaking couple, who are just as frustrated by the process. Their day was spent much like ours, running around back and forth trying to figure out where to go. If it were simply a matter of language barriers, I could understand. But it’s not. There’s nothing logical or organized about the process. Lucky for us that we had 8 hours to figure it out, as it was we were the last ones to board the hydrofoil. Once we arrived in Ustica, and explained the situation to our hosts, they said, “well, it’s just the Sicilian way…” as if that answers it all.