Waking up early for game day was a nice reminder of Saturdays back home. I put on the fight song, for my own purposes and began to get excited. We walked to the stadium past many PSU supporters. I had read that 90% of the 16,000 tourists who were expected to have made the trip were fellow Nittany Lion fans and this seemed accurate on the ground. The atmosphere inside the stadium was great. There was blue and white, cheerleaders, the band and a lively crowd. Across the way, the bleachers were not full, but I realized that the PSU side which we were on, was filled to the brim so that made sense. I was happy and relieved when Conor said it would not annoy him if I particiapated in the chants and cheers, all of which would be foreign to him. The game was good, Penn State played well, but definitely missed out on some early opportunities which nearly came back to bite them later. Notably settling for 3 instead of 7 just before half, and a few untimely penalties. The defense played well, but seemed tired or confused when UCF brought in their dynamic backup QB. He did very well and I think the Knights will have a good season with him. With just over a minute to play, my frustrations with the team not quite finishing the job came to a peak as this dynamic UCF QB walked in for an easy 6 yard touchdown. We got the ball back off the kickoff and Hackenberg drove the team quickly to within fieldgoal range. I’ll admit that I could not have been more nervous as the clock was allowed to tick to 0:03 seconds left to try a kick from any length due to our kicker’s track record. The next thing I knew, the play had started and the ball was heading through the uprights. It was good! Fireworks started and the band played the alma mater. It was a great ending to a close game, so we headed to the pub to celebrate!!
Rob and I started off in Sicily together, sadly only 2 days until he had to leave. We stayed in Palermo, which is where the majority of people fly into when they come. It was a pretty busy town. We spent some time walking around the city – viewing various monuments and markets that were close to our hostel. The market we stopped into was crazy. Jam-packed with people, so many vendors – it seemed like there was an endless supply, very loud… very Italian. J Rob was able to buy a fishing rod and hooks at the market from a guy who was selling literally ANYTHING you could want …shower heads, fishing gear, hair dryers, toys, tools.
Once siesta hit (my new favorite time of the day – nap time!) we decided to head to the beach. It was a short bus ride from city center and we arrived on the beautiful, but PACKED, beach of Mondello. The water was crystal clear and incredibly refreshing. We laid in the sun – swam in the water… had a full day of fun in the sun. By evening we decided we should see the city by night. We went to a local wine bar that had live music and served free apps as long as you were drinking. Whenever you sit down at a restaurant, within minutes you start to get approached by people who are trying to sell you anything they have – fans, phone chargers, roses. We decided to make a drinking game out of it after being approached by SO many of these men. As soon as they come over, you pick up your drink as soon as they come over and don’t put it down until they leave. A few hours of this makes for a good night.
We spent our last day together near the port, fishing…. Well Rob fished and I laid in the sun and read. Rob had to leave early evening for his flight so I went to dinner with a few people from the hostel. The two people that I ate with planned to drive along the coast of Sicily to Milazzo, which is where I planned to stay after Rob left. They very kindly offered to drive me there in the morning. This was awesome since it saved me the hassle and cost of a bus. My stay in Milazzo was pretty relaxed. The city wasn’t really known for it’s nightlife – however it did have a lot of shopping! I got in as much shopping as possible while Rob was away since I know my shopping trips are a little more limited when I’m dragging him from store to store J. I was also able to get my first haircut here. I was lucky enough to find a salon where on of the stylists spoke enough English to understand “trim” and “long layers.”
Milazzo was a port town with ferries running to the Aeolian Islands everyday. I decided to take a trip to Lipari. This was supposed to be the best island for snorkeling and shopping. I accidentally got off at the wrong stop and ended up on Vulcano. I didn’t realize this until the ferry was long gone. I decided to just enjoy my time there anyway. They have a large dormant volcano with a sulpher mud bath at it’s base. My research (and my nose) let me know that this was a very smelly attraction but it was supposed to be great for your skin, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it! I jumped in the bubbling hot mud bath and began covering my body…it was as smelly as I expected. I pushed through and waited for all the mud to harden before washing it off in the ocean. I am pretty sure it ruined my bathing suit but my skin felt as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
My last couple days away from Rob, I was able to have some company. My Aunt Grace was taking a vaca to southern Italy and our dates just BARELY overlapped. A bus, a ferry and another bus and I was able to get to her hotel in Scilla, Italy within 2 hours. It was so cool to get to spend time with her (not something I get to do often) and in ITALY no less. We spent the bulk of the day just relaxing on the beach or in the clear blue water. After siesta, we cleaned up for dinner and headed out. There was a market set up along the boardwalk and restaurant after restaurant to choose from. We settled on a nice fish restaurant with inexpensive wine. It began going downhill from there… 2 pitchers of wine with dinner, a glass of wine with dessert… another pitcher of wine at the late night bar we stopped at…. A few more glasses of wine and a chupa-chup at the late, late night bar to follow up…. Before we knew it, we were watching the sun come up on the beach. Needless to say, we stumbled back to our room and slept until around 2PM the next day. By the time we woke up, it was time for me to head back to Palermo to catch my flight to Roma (which ended up being a series of unfortunate events). A train, a ferry, a missed bus (and flight), and an 11 hour bus trip later and I was finally in Roma with my love!