Arrived one day before the tour
The hotel desk person greeted me warmly. The hotel is beautiful in a very old building with marble stairs. My room on the first floor (second floor in the US) is large, king bed, huge bathroom. I am so excited to have a room to myself in the same hotel for 3 nights! (Note to self: I must check the price of doing laundry as it would be wonderful to have all clean clothes for the rest of the trip. )
I couldn’t get to sleep but after about 1am I finally dozed off. I woke up at 9:30! Breakfast is until 10:30 so I threw on my yoga pants and started the climb up several flights of stairs to the rooftop restaurant. How I love old buildings with marble stairs! Great way to get a little workout before breakfast.
The rooftop view and eating area are spectacular. Reminds me of the Hotel Cesari in Rome. The church domes, the mountains in the background, the expanse of muted pink white orange buildings with clay rooftops. Further in the distance the villages ascending up the hillsides. Just drinking my espresso and eating my hard boiled eggs is a major sightseeing event! Not to mention soft music playing in the background mixed with the sounds of Italian bantering. Moments like this are why I travel.
Meeting the group for the first time is interesting. I can’t help but wonder as I look out at the 23 strangers.....who might become a good friend? As we went around the room telling a little about ourselves, many in the group had been on multiple RS tours. Some had just come from another tour. It is common to take a month and schedule two tours back to back. How fun!
We have Virginia, the guide who is our tour leader, and then expert guides for specific locations. We will have the same bus and the same bus driver the whole trip. The bus is huge and really comfortable.
After our get acquainted meeting, Virginia asked us to be in the lobby in a few minutes for a short stroll around Palermo. It is a very old, interesting city. As we walked down a quiet street, Virginia stopped and rang the doorbell at one of the residences. A beautiful blond woman popped out of the upper window to welcome us. Come in!
We were in the residence of a Count and Countess, hundreds of years old, with priceless paintings and artifacts. The Countess gave us the history, warmly served hor d'oeuvres and wine, and told us about her life. What a great way to start our tour!
That evening we had a star lit dinner on the rooftop of our hotel. As a solo traveler, I didn’t feel the least bit out of place. The tour members were warm and interesting. I felt really good about my decision to join this tour.