The plan: beach day!
Waking up with the curtains wide open, light streaming in the room, the sound of birds chirping away on the nearby rooftops, it’s my favourite way to start the day. After having a bite to eat for breakfast and checking the bus I needed, I stopped by the supermarket to get snacks for the day. I had high hopes for my beach day!
I’d heard a lot about Mondello beach, and how it was the best one around, popular with both locals and tourists. A quick Google search showed stunning blue waters lapping up on golden sand beaches. I don’t often need much more to be convinced, so made the short journey on the bus to be greeted by what seemed to be every person that lived on the island. The beach is about 1.5km long, so it made sense that people would get off the bus at the start and find a spot on the beach early on. Working on that logic, I figured I’d stay on the bus until further down when it would hopefully get more quiet.
How wrong I was.
In search of a quiet, serene spot on what is supposed to be a stunning beach, I jumped off the bus as it neared the end of the road that runs alongside the seafront. I continued walking, and found a spot. It was not quiet, and definitely not serene as I was sandwiched between families enjoying a day out. We were so close, I felt like I was hanging out with them. Cosy.
Determined to make the most of the journey and being on a beach, I popped my headphones in and settled in for a good reading-in-the-sun session. The sun dipped in and out of sight as the clouds slowly gathered. Maybe I should have checked the forecast before venturing out, but it made me wonder how much busier it’d be on a beautifully clear day.
Once I’d finished my book, it wasn’t sunny anymore and the noise and crowds were getting to me a little. I wasn’t enjoying myself, so packed up and made my way across the litter-strewn beach back to the main road. I’d given it a good shot, but it just wasn’t to be.
Thinking I’d have a good chance of jumping on the bus if I was on the road that led out of the town of Mondello, I wandered the length of the beach back in that direction. The slow journey trying to brush the sand off my feet at least gave me the chance to see what I hadn’t on the bus; families gathered on the beach enjoying time together, groups of friends kicking a ball around, kids playing at the water’s edge. Past the beach huts and paired up sunloungers, I was finally at a bus stop that’d take me back to Palermo.
What followed was over 2 and a half hours of waiting for a bus that had space on it to allow people to board. Although due every 10 minutes, the buses run on Italian time – seemingly randomly. After 45 minutes and missing 2 buses because they were full, I decided to walk to bus stops earlier in the line. The hope was that I’d find one that would be early enough to still have space. Arriving at Piazza Mondello, I was completely fed up. So many full buses had passed me, I was absolutely shattered from having walked so far and just wanted to get back to Palermo.
As 2 more buses passed me by, I gave up and decided to just get a drink at a nearby bar. Thankfully the barman gave me a plastic cup, as just as I sat down a bus came by with space! It’s not often I run for a bus, but after 2 and a half hours of waiting, I would have given Usain Bolt a good race to get on that bus. Finally on, I had my drink and I just had to endure the journey back to Palermo surrounded by youngsters who’d been chilling at the beach all day and about a million – might be a slight exaggeration – other people crammed in.
Totally knackered by the time we got back to Palermo, my plan was just to grab some dinner and chill out in my room for the night. Of course, that would have been dependent on being able to get off the bus at my stop. Instead, I ended up trying to pass through the crowd who didn’t feel like moving and the bus driver just continued on to the next stop. Ever more aggy, I finally got to the door ready for the next stop, feeling like a grumpy old woman!
Eventually climbing in to bed with some arancini and super authentically Italian chips, I’d really not enjoyed my day. I had such high expectations of Mondello beach from what other people had told me, and the photos on the internet. It had absolutely not met those expectations and was one of the dirtiest and most crowded beaches I’ve ever been on. Possibly I had just picked a busy day, or people had been there before me that left their rubbish everywhere, but I wasn’t keen on trying to visit again.
At least I’d made the journey to see for myself what it was like, and I have heard from others who’ve been since and absolutely loved it so I think I just picked a bad day / spot. Never mind, tomorrow would be a new day and I was going in search of another beach to relax on. Wish me luck!
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