Trapani, Sicily and the Silver Wind
A brilliant sunrise welcomed Silversea’s Silver Wind to the Sicilian port of Trapani this morning, heralding the start of another exciting day on Voyage 2334 from Rome to Malaga.
I’ve become a creature of habit as far as breakfast aboard the Silver Wind goes. Despite the fact there are four different options available for the all-important first meal of the day, I always find myself heading up to La Terrazza on Deck 7 for their buffet breakfast that runs from 7:30 a.m. until 10:00 a.m.
Perched overlooking the stern of the Silver Wind, La Terrazza has a small outdoor terrace with covered seating that complements the tables available indoors. Back in 2008, it was refitted to more closely resemble the space of the same name aboard Silversea’s flagship, the 540-guest Silver Spirit.
A small room off to the right as you enter La Terrazza houses the breakfast buffet, which has everything you could want – and perhaps even a few things you aren’t expecting. One of my favorite features is the cheese platter, which does away with cheddar in place of more exotic (and decidedly European) varieties, like Camembert and Roquefort.
At every turn, the La Terrazza wait staff are there to assist you, and will even carry your plate back to your table for you. Top that off with hot coffee and fresh fruit juice, and it’s tough for me to consider heading down to the Restaurant for its a la carte breakfast. You can also get light breakfast items at the Pool Bar, or in the Panorama Lounge on Deck 8 aft, or the Observation Lounge on Deck 9 forward.
After breakfast, I set out on my first shore excursion of this cruise: a 4.5-hour trip to see the ancient Greek ruins of Selinunte.
Roughly an hour’s drive from Trapani through the rolling hills of the Sicilian countryside, Selinunte was founded by the Carthaginians in the middle of the 7th century. It was once a bustling city that featured what archaeologists now believe was one of the largest temples dedicated to Apollo in the ancient world.
Though the town existed for numerous years, it was eventually sacked by the Venetians and gradually abandoned. At some point, a massive earthquake occurred just a few kilometres off the coastline that left most of the temples in complete ruins. The resulting tsunami slammed ashore approximately ten minutes later with enough raw force that it brought with it a thick blanket of sand some 30 centimetres deep.
The sand buried many of the ruins and killed off the vegetation.
On our visit, we had the opportunity to explore two temples: Temple E and the remains of the seaside Acropolis.
Rebuilt in 1958, Temple E showcases the immense size of these structures. Though not as large as the more famous Acropolis in Athens, Temple E can certainly hold its own, with intricately carved columns, pedestals and frescoes that would have topped out the structure.
Off to the side, Temple F is in complete ruin; a jumble of gigantic parts that could be the larger-than-life building blocks of a Greek god.
That structures like this could even be constructed in the 7th century boggles the mind. Each column alone weighs a massive amount, all of which had to be constructed and hoisted into place using nothing but the tools available at the time. Today, we would need computers and crane trucks to even build something half the size.
But it was the ruins of the seaside Acropolis that really hit home for me, and provided an insight into what this town would have looked like. The remains of an ancient road runs parallel to the sea, looking like a smaller version of the grand entry road constructed in Turkey for the city of Ephesus. Foundations can still be seen, though their upper structures have long since been destroyed. And a single wall of the Acropolis still gazes out over the Mediterranean Sea, looking for a civilization that no longer exists.
After two hours on the ground in Selinunte, we once again drove the scenic coast of Sicily back to Trapani and the Silver Wind.
Being in Sicily, the citizens of Trapani observe the age-old Mediterranean tradition of siesta. From 1 p.m. until 4 p.m, most shops and restaurants are closed. While it might be inconvenient for shoppers, it’s a great opportunity for shutterbugs to get some photographs of the streets of Trapani without any people – tourists or otherwise – in the shot.
Now, I would have loved to have had some gelato, but it wasn’t in the cards today. But Trapani is a port I’d gladly come back to again on another cruise; it takes no effort whatsoever to fall in love with the town’s gorgeous architecture and the ever-changing landscape of the Sicilian countryside.
Tonight, I was able to indulge in one of my favorite Silversea dining experiences: The Grill featuring Hot Rocks.
Located at the forward end of the Pool Deck on Deck 8, the Pool Grill is transformed each evening into a unique dining experience. Dining outdoors, under the stars, you select a salad and a variety of meats from the menu. While the salad comes in the traditional way, it is the entrees that are truly special, as they come delivered atop a slab of searing-hot volcanic rock.
You can then cook the meats to your liking on your very own slab of volcanic rock and garnish them with a selection of marinades. Each is served with a skewer of fresh vegetables and a baked potato with as many trimmings as you want.
This time around, I noticed Silversea has changed the way the ‘Hot Rocks’ are delivered. Instead of the former wooden ‘cutting board’-style slab, the hot rock now sits in its own porcelain enclosure, with separate spaces for the vegetables and baked potato.
In many ways, this is an improvement over the previous design, as it allows you to better compartmentalize your food. I always found it difficult on the previous wooden slab to properly prepare the baked potato.
However, I preferred the wooden slab to the porcelain one for its look. It was slightly more rustic and woodsy. The compartments in the new one are great – don’t get me wrong – but it’s too bad it’s not made of wood anymore.
One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the quality of the food. Tonight, I had the catch of the day (Sea Bass) and jumbo prawns, together with the New York salad. The Apple Pie for dessert is still to die for; it’s the best Apple Pie I’ve ever had, hands-down.
Best of all, there’s no surcharge. Dining here is complimentary. And it can be enjoyed in all seasons, thanks to an ingenious awning that keeps the worst of the elements out. Tonight as I ate, a sudden downpour materialized and the pool deck turned into a mini flash-flood. But underneath the awning at The Grill, I was dry and comfortable at all times.
Once again, I find myself in the Panorama Lounge writing this report tonight. I’ve always found it interesting that, in many ways, a small-ship cruise with Silversea is more active than some of the big ships I’ve had the opportunity to sail on. It’s also highly personalized; everyone has their favorite spot on the ship. This cruise, mine seems to be this lounge. Each has its own entertainment, style, and vibe. Each, then, can be matched to any personality.
The trend in cruising these days – at least mainstream cruising – that I dislike is called, “distract the guests so they won’t know they’re on a cruise.” Not Silversea. The ocean and Silversea are inexorably linked, and Silversea’s ships all place great emphasis on being able to constantly be within sight of the ocean at all times.
You won’t find bumper cars here. If you need a rock-climbing wall, you’ll have to go elsewhere. What you will find, though, is a crew made up of some of the most dedicated and talented people I’ve ever met, and a passenger base that hails from around the world.
Aboard the Silver Wind, the emphasis – thankfully – is on the beauty and joy of being at sea.
Silver Wind, Rome to Malaga
|November 18, 2013||Rome, Italy||Arrival in Rome||Overnight hotel stay|
|November 19||Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy||Embark Silver Wind||6:00 PM|
|November 20||Sorrento, Italy||8:00 AM||6:00 PM|
|November 21||Trapani, Italy||8:00 AM||6:00 PM|
|November 22||Valetta, Malta||8:00 AM||4:00 PM|
|November 23||La Goulette, Tunisia||8:30 AM||6:00 PM|
|November 24||At Sea|
|November 25||Cartagena, Spain||8:00 AM||5:00 PM|
|November 26||Malaga, Spain||8:00 AM||Disembark Silver Wind; onward journey|
Our Live Voyage Report through the Mediterranean aboard Silversea’s Silver Wind will continue tomorrow from Valetta, Malta! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.