2002 - IT9/

In June I attended the 6th International YL Meet in Palermo, Sicily. Unfortunately summer had come early and it was very hot and humid. This would have been bearable if Sicily was FLAT but it's not and we were continually climbing steps or steep slopes.

Prior to the Meet, I met up with 2 Norwegian friends, Unni LA6RHA and SWL Ingrid for 4 days R & R in Taormina on the east coast. Taormina is a small but very picturesque town divided into 2 parts - the new part along the Mediterranean coast and the old part half way up a mountain, the 2 being connected by a corkscrewing road and a cable car to enable tourists to come up the mountain to buy out the souvenir shops. Lots of good, and I mean good, restaurants - we got to know most of them.

One evening we took a bus trip up the slopes of Mt. Etna, the lush vegetation gradually giving way to volcanic lava with the occasional puff of smoke emerging from holes in the ground - a little frightening remembering the previous year's violent eruption. (While writing this, Mt. Etna is erupting again, 4 months after we were there.) At the Observatory at 2,800 metres it was icy cold!

76 YLs and 33 OMs attended the Meet and it was great fun meeting old friends with lots of hugs and kisses! Activities included both a formal Dinner and a Folklore Night where we were supposed to come dressed in our national costumes - rather difficult for us 3 VKs. We settled for Aussie hats with corks dangling (to keep the flies off!) and we each carried a 15" high kangaroo on a long spring so she, Matilda, bounced as we walked.

After the Meet, I went on a 3-day bus trip to see old ruins, cathedrals, cork trees, salt pans, old towns, street markets, the Marsala winery (where we toasted absent friends) and Cefalu's medieval laundry, wrongly translated in our programme as "a medieval lavatory", thus causing some rather bemused looks when we finally saw it!

We all left the Meet with bags of interesting "goodies" and an invitation from the South Korean YLs to visit them in Seoul in 2004 for the next International YL Meet. I headed home via Bangkok, spending 5 days in more hot and humid weather but managed to see more of the city than when last there in 1998 - did more shopping too! The contrast between the gilded temples and the dwellings along the river has to be seen to be believed. Then home to Melbourne with its 7C temps and rain - what a contrast!


DYL and Matilda

Street Cafe

Mt. Etna crater from 1809 eruption

Road winding up to Taormina

Japanese YLs

Cefalu Laundry/Lavatory

ALARA members toast absent friends

Bangkok Market

Bangkok canal dwellings

Bangkok canal temples

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