A Week in Sicily Part 2: Travel

Preparation and Leaving
I mentioned before about our booking problems and needing to go on holiday from Monday to Monday.  Well, I was busy leading the music at church until about 9pm on Sunday, and our flights were leaving Gatwick at 8am.  After some deliberation, we’d booked into the Europa Hotel near Gatwick (cheap, tacky, horrible beds, but only £54 for a night!).
Sunday, then, was a day of preparation and packing.  It was a bit frantic, but we were pretty organised and managed to check in online.  I was, initially, a bit sceptical about doing this, but it’s dead easy.  You log on, choose your seats, and print your boarding passes.  Then when you get to the airport you just do a bag drop and go through security.  Easy!
Packing was confusing too.  What to take?  It was going to be averaging 25 degrees, but we were planning climbing Etna, which is 3000m and the Rough Guide recommended taking winter clothes.  Do we pack hiking boots?  Day sacks?  Gloves and hats?  Heck, yeah, we’ve got big suitcases so chuck it all in!  In the end we were glad we did and we used and greatly needed all the above!
So, after church (my third time leading the music…which went OK, but not brilliant), packing up the guitar and music and throwing everything in the car on Sunday night, we headed for Gatwick.  The holiday had begun!
Satellite Navigation
Some good friends of ours had loaned us their SatNav system (a Garmin nuvi 310 Deluxe).   This was to be a VERY useful bit of kit, depite occasionally having some very funny ideas about how to get places.
We’d taken this on a little test run on an errand in Swindon a few days before.  I’d struggled with having the extra information to hand – where to look?  Signs?  The road markings?  The Garmin?  Aarrgh!  And it didn’t seem very good at preparing you for junctions.  Imagine approaching a roundabout with three exits and three lanes.  The Garmin would say “drive…0.2 miles…then…enter roundabout”.  But which lane do I get in?  By the time it said “enter roundabout…then…take…third…exit”, it’s too late.  So I had to do a bit of learning about combining the SatNav’s guidance with signs and cues from the road.
And the trip to Gatwick was another trial, including driving some places I didn’t know (it took us M4 and A329 through Bracknell and then onto the M3 before hitting the M25).  More about the Garmin later.
This route to Gatwick was pretty quick – about 1 hour 40 minutes!  The Garmin delivering us to our destination perfectly, and the Europa hotel being as awful as we remembered.
5 hours sleep then, and it’s off to the airport!