When my friend Aaron and I booked flights to Trapani, it was for two things: Sun and wine. I spent hours looking at temperature maps of Europe, searching for the warmest locations in Europe in October. Trapani was one of the best options, a lovely 19 degrees. Definitely warm enough for an Irishman to swim in the sea and lie on the beach until he turns into a lobster.
We found our flights with Azuon, a flight search engine I highly recommend. It plotted out our course, and we took off from Dublin, landing in Beauvais, ‘Paris’. Now this tiny airport is over 80km from Paris, so for the hours we were there we just explored the town of Beauvais. My father always taught me to be cheapskate (sorry Dad, I mean clever with my money) so we walked for a half an hour instead of taking the bus.
If you ever are passing through Beauvais as a flight connection, its well worth exploring. In the centre of the town stands the impressive Cathedral of St. Peter, a Gothic (thanks Art history class, I get to sound intelligent because of you) style church dating back to the 12th century.
We sat in the church and said a few classic Father Ted lines, then went hunting for somewhere to eat. We settled on a restaurant designed by someone who must have had great faith in waiters; the floor was carpeted. Now I’ve often heard it said that French people often refuse to speak English even though they know it, but this wasn’t my experience. A young lad who was serving us was delighted to practice the English he was learning in school and we did our best to tone down our Cork accents so he could understand what we were saying.
Then it was back on the plane. Next stop, Trapani. We landed, and as we were queuing to go through security, we heard these loudmouth northern girls. I think they were discussing the length of the line or something. We started chatting, and in that moment, the Clan was formed. Clare suggested we share a taxi to Trapani, and so we chatted all the way to the town. We exchanged details, and agreed to meet up later in the holiday. Little did we know we had just met two of the soundest beours (birds, girls, lassies) ever to come out of Leeds.
One of the first nights there, Aaron and I found an amazing wine bar. Picture Galway or some town with a cobbled street, but with people everywhere standing around sipping wine and chatting the night away. It was fantastic. The wine was a euro a cup and tasted better than the wine you’d pay 9 euros for in Ireland. Three massive barrels, with taps attached to them, being poured by a barman who was definitely high. Midnight came and went, we were still there, laughing at the thought of our friends back home being kicked out of the closing bars. We still had 4 hours before ours closed.
At closing, we had made friends with the barman, who looked like Riley from National Treasure. We watched with excitement as he poured wine into two plastic bottles and proceeded to lead the way with us and small group, up some steps beside the bar to a wall overlooking the sea. We hung out, enjoying the sea breeze and drank some more wine. It was a great night.
The cure, according to Aaron, was a bottle of Peroni and a margarita pizza.
We spent a lot of time in bars on this holiday. Even though Trapani is quite a small place, there is lots of awesome bars that get lots of people even on week nights in the off-season. The clan spent most of the time at Bandini and Bar Rakija.
Bandini is a small pub where we made great friends with two of the barstaff working there. They spoke great English and every time we went there we had a great laugh. With amazing cocktails made mostly by Ignazio, the Clan had many eventful nights that started off at Bandini. As they were showing us around someone said ‘Italians are so friendly. The guys laughed and said ‘We’re Sicilians, not Italians.’ Almost everyone we met preferred to be called Sicilian rather than Italian. I guess its like how you wouldn’t call a Scottish guy British.
Bar Rakija is one of the best pubs I’ve ever stepped foot in. Not because it was always packed with locals, not because of its wide selection of drinks, but because the staff are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. There was a friendly Ghanaian man named Johnny greeting us every night we wandered up the steps to Rakija’s doors. He didn’t drink but in the end we insisted for him to do a shot with us. We had vodka, he had water.
The bar owner, Leonardo (who we quickly started calling Leonard) was a laid back, down to earth gentleman who made us feel welcome. Aaron and I quickly became friends with him due to our shared obsession with basketball. A few days into the holiday, he cracked open a bottle of 15 year old rum and gave us a few free glasses.
Most of the bars in Trapani are open until about 4am. After the bars closed, we went with some of the bartenders and found places that were open until 6. I guarantee you there’s lots of things that we overlooked and didn’t do on this holiday. We could have got the cable car to Erice, or spent more time on the beach. But I had a really special holiday that left me with many memorable moment that I still think About. We were sad to leave the beautiful town and the friends we had made. But in the back of our minds we knew that one day the Clan would reunite once again.