We walked to the Greek Theater with the guide because I wanted mom to see the views from there, but they had constructed a huge movie screen and added many temporary seats, flooring, and trailers to the lovely spot. Turns out the "Taormina Film Festival" started the next day. Who knew? The screen sure ruined the view, which would normally be a spectacular framing of Mt. Etna by the theater's huge Greek pillars. Oh well. Guess a few hundred/thousand movie-goers isn't going to ruin a theater that has been standing since 300 BC.
Mom and I left the tour early and did some browsing, stopping for a graniti (fruit slushi), gelato, and beer along the route back to the bus. Saw a tiny street only about 18 inches wide and many pottery pieces adorned with the symbol of Sicily--a Medusa head surrounded by 3 legs representing the three capes of the triangular-shaped island of Sicily. Not very attractive, but it adorns the red and yellow flag of the province.
The Nieuw Amsterdam had several tours from Catania. One was to the ancient site at Syracuse, two were to Taormina, four were to Mt. Etna, and one was a 4x4 expedition on Mt. Etna. There was also a walking tour of Catania and a fun day at the beach.
Sicily has been rocked by so many earthquakes over the years that it doesn't have quite as many ancient sites as elsewhere in Italy, but the island has been occupied by almost every Mediterranean culture and still has buildings, bridges, and statues from the Arab/Greek/Romans and a few other civilizations. Hearing stories of towns that have been inhabited for over 2000 years really makes one realize just how (relatively) young the USA is.
We met the guide at the Duomo square at 12:00 noon (way too early for most of us) or at the bus at 12:15. We were back in Catania by 1:00 pm, but it took another 45 to make our way to the pier. We drove down the main street of Catania, which was extra busy since most shops in Catania close between 1 pm and 4 pm for lunch and siesta. (According to our guide, the Sicilians picked up that habit when the Spanish were in Sicily).
Mom and I ate lunch at the Lido buffet restaurant. It was Greek food day, so we both enjoyed some of that, along with other tasty things.
We sailed from Catania at about 5 pm, and mom and I met the two WAVEJourney.com women for dinner at the Evening at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Grill. Holland America (HAL) has one Le Cirque dinner per cruise, and HAL has a 3-year agreement with the founder of Le Cirque in New York to have menus he consulted on/designed served on their ships once per cruise. The dinner was exceptional. It had fixed amuse, appetizer, and soup, and three choices for main course and dessert. The amuse was rhubarb topped with pate, the appetizer was a lobster salad, and the soup was corn chowder. The three main courses were wild halibut, rack of lamb, or a huge steak. The desserts were chocolate souffle, creme brulee, or selection of ice creams/sorbets. Mom and I both had the lamb and it was wonderful. Very tender and juicy, and with a very mild flavor. I scraped my souffle cup to get to all the chocolate souffle, and mom enjoyed the creme brulee.
It was a delightful dinner and I loved comparing travel notes with the other 2 writers. They've spent 7 weeks in Europe--2 weeks on a bus tour, 3 weeks hiking in Spain, and now 2 weeks on this cruise.
The show was an English singer/pianist named Brett Cave. He was very funny and an excellent musician/singer. He sang music by Billy Joel, Neal Sedaka, the Beatles, Elton John, Barry Manilow, Stevie Wonder--all great artists. His English wit was dry and well-appreciated by the audience. Mom and I have really enjoyed every show and glad we have stayed up for them!
The next day we were in Naples--where pizza was invented!