SICILY, PALMA, AND MADRID Jun-Jul 2011

One of my last Navy trips  was to Sicily and Spain for an aircraft carrier maintenance inspection. I departed 24 Jun for Catania, Italy on the island of Sicily via Dulles, a 5-hour layover, Frankfurt, and another 5-hour layover. I spent all day Sunday 26 Jun walking around the city (not too much walking, it was really hot). Monday, 27 Jun, I took a cab from the hotel in Catania to the Navy air station in Sigonella and caught a C-2A Greyhound flight to the ship. The inspection was already in progress when I arrived. We suspended it 28 Jun when the ship pulled into Palma de Mallorca for four days of liberty. The inspection team and I moved off the ship and into a Marriott Resort hotel about 10 miles east of the city where we were joined by the remaining two members of the team (they had really bad travel delays). On the island, we made use of the recreational activities at the hotel, toured the Gothic Cathedral, Bellver Castle, Soller (in the mountains NW of Palma), watched intoxicated Brits burn their skin to a crisp from lying on the beach, watched different intoxicated Brits stagger between bars and discos in Magaluf, and raced the fastest go karts I have ever driven. Some members of the team went to the beaches all day, but I did not since I burn too easily. If you have not been to Palma de Mallorca, you need to get that on your "list." The ship got underway again 2 Jul, we completed the inspection 3 July (the ship passed, but it was a near thing), and flew off the ship 4 July to Rota, Spain (SW coast of Spain, on the Atlantic side). We took cabs to Jerez de la Frontera, the nearest major airport, and flew to Madrid. We stayed at the airport Hilton for one night. That evening, most of us walked to the nearest subway stop and took the metro to the vicinity of La Plaza del Sol for dinner. We few from Madrid to Hampton roads (via Atlanta) the next day, 5 July. One thing I really enjoyed about the trip was the opportunity to use some of my high school spanish. It seemed very odd to get started in an inspection, suspend it for four days in a liberty port, then pick the inspection back up again. That's just what the ship's leadership wanted.