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Sicily: A journey in spite

Sicily is a great holiday destination for many. Find out how to go on holiday in Sicily when traveling despite being in a wheelchair - just like Kirsten Kester.
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Sicily: A journey in spite is written by Kirsten Kester.

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Traveling to Sicily - after all

Kirsten has for several years struggled with prolonged concussions, which has posed greater challenges than she has ever experienced as a disabled person in a wheelchair. Travel during this period has been limited, as the concussion causes a number of violent side effects. But she wants to go out and travel, even if she has to travel in spite.

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Italy, Ragalna - travel

Ragalna, Sicily

My head hurts. My body and my joints hurt. My ears are howling. My forehead is hot. My body is stressed and my head is buzzing and spinning. I try to sleep a little more, but my body hurts too much.

My husband Dieter makes fried eggs and coffee. I'm still dirty. Considering sleeping. To rest. To shit on it all and stay in bed, for what the hell can I stand up to? A life with the buzz in my ears, a nervous system I have no control over, the world dances, and I am not offered up. My head hurts, my eyes flicker, my eyes often search for what I can throw up in, should it be.

Ragalna in Sicily with its 3.000 inhabitants is not much bigger than a village. Where is the boundary of the difference between town and village? I have no idea, but Ragalna is the size of a village.

After quite a few minutes we are in the town square - or square. Two modern cafés, a fading yellow church, a smaller park with little flowers and benches and an even smaller grocery store are what the town square offers.

The cafes are the only ones open. It's Sunday, so the church should be open and everything else closed, but it may be modern times. I inquire with a couple of young people who sit in the smart of the cafes. The one with the neon sign that says they serve coffee. Yes, the supermarket is closed, it's Sunday. Dieter has reached across the square and continues out onto a road north. I'm following.

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On adventures through the lush and romantic streets of Sicily

The wind is cool against the cheeks. This is because we are at an altitude of almost 900 meters above sea level in Sicily. The warm spring weather we experience along the coast is waiting in the mountains.

I'm come out. It does not happen every day. Unfortunately. The concussion makes my sleep sparse, and the pain too many. Once I'm out, I almost forget about my illness. At least for a while. The impressions, the sounds, the source of the wind on my cheek and my curiosity make the worries and pains put out of focus.

The concussion and all its appendages are just as quietly led out into a periphery, where it may well remain. Unfortunately, it makes it short, and only for a certain amount of time. Then it knocks on the door, as if it were a ruling power. Will shut into the heat and remind me that it is a part of me. It's not immediately welcome, but I know it's massaging itself with a surprising and unbearable power if I do not bid it inside.

The houses are very different at first glance, but if you look closer, they are still similar in expression. Like most southern European or Italian houses, they are romantic. Very adorable and neat with crumb clocks and painted in delicate pastel colors. Like in different powder colors, which I find a bit comical, but it can not be different.

Saturated by the long summer with the bright light is the houses of the Italians almost hermetically sealed with thick blinds, shutters or even bricks for the windows. The gardens are lush with dense planting and the olive trees are to be found everywhere. At these heights, cypress trees are also quite common. Few have mini plantations with wine or fruit trees.

The sea view, which we should be able to glimpse to the east, unfortunately disappears into the haze. But we have no doubt that we are in the heights.

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With GPS in hand, it can not go completely wrong

Most of all, I just want to go a little on the must and get in the streets of Sicily. Like to let me get a little lost and go on adventures. Dieter would rather keep an eye on the GPS, which turns out to be a good idea, as the clock suddenly gets many, the light disappears, and we still have to cross a few hills and around quite a few turns before we approach anything recognizable.

Often we get barked at when we pass what might otherwise look like abandoned houses. We rarely see dog owners. The few we encounter nod and smile. Some greet with a "buonasera", and a wife with laundry on the balcony will know where we are going and a lot of other things that I do not understand. She nods and points in the affirmative. If we're heading for the Piazza, we're on the right track. I smile and thank you. “Molte grazie”.

Etna sticks her snout up behind hills and trees. With the snow on top, she looks cold and frozen despite her property as a volcano with the inner glow.

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Italy - Sicily, Ragalna

Wine museum behind the facade

I swim easily away in the fine details. In the gardens and houses of the Italians in Sicily. So much so that I occasionally find myself driving out in the middle of the road. The cars push almost regardless, so I'll probably get to the side. I find myself wondering if they are not also driving incredibly fast in such a small town? Do you think that way when you get older? I do not recall having thought similarly in the past. And on this walk there are a lot more cars than on our previous one. 

After a cup of fantastic Italian coffee at our café we have started on a longer walk in the opposite direction of where we last went. On a scale of 1 to 10, I ask Dieter how annoyed he is over, so often I stop and have to study things and pretty much certainly have a picture too? Dieter replies that it usually starts at 1 and approaches 10 when we are home. My curiosity I feel like with the headache, the nausea, the dizziness and everything else that the concussion causes, incredibly hard to control.

The castle-like houses - reminiscent of something from before, my great-great-great-grandfather lived - palettes in nature with different colors, a light in a particularly unknown smoke color slowly creeps up from the valleys, set in a world of fantasy and magic flowers. How can one not stop is my thought. But it's hard. It's hard for my head to hijack all the impressions and thoughts that gallop away, where words, images and colors are swirled around in a tornado. I take pictures so I can remember and write words that support.

As twilight is approaching, we turn around. There is still plenty to see even if we go the same way back. When I am engrossed in details, I do not always get it all on both sides of the road. For example, I first discover on the way home that there is a rather large and beautiful museum very close to the road. There are some artisans inside, and my curiosity drives me in there.

What I immediately understand from the Sicilian-Italian accent is that it is a wine museum, which will not reopen until April. Immediately we can not use it for much, but we were greeted by a couple of nice men and enjoyed the beautiful buildings up close.

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How to get to Sicily

There are several Danish travel agencies that have quality travel for this.

If you want to book your holiday to Sicily yourself, then B&B Domus Verdiana in the center of Ragalna is popular with users on TripAdvisor, who also has a list of other accommodation options. To get to Sicily you can fly to Catania in eastern Sicily or to the island's largest city Palermo. You can find the best combination on Momondo here.

If you need tips and tricks on how to plan your trip, you can read our great travel guide here. You can also sign up for our newsletter, which comes 1-2 times a month if you want to stay up to date with tips and tricks for travel.

Small experiences grow big. Also when traveling in spite.

Really good trip to Sicily and the rest of Italy!

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About the travel writer

Kirsten Kester

Kirsten K. Kester is a Copenhagener living in Aarhus with her West Jutland husband.
Together they have traveled for more than 25 years.

Kirsten is also an artist and has exhibited both in Denmark and several places abroad, including Berlin, New York and Mexico. Kirsten writes about travel and art in his own way blog, on Facebook and Instagram.

Kirsten is on the unpredictable journey where she does not follow the other tourists on her heels. The Great Wall of China, for example, is only experienced in the far western corner of China and not in Beijing. As some of the first tourists, Kirsten and her husband traveled in 1992 by train through a Soviet Union that had just been disbanded and replaced by new independent republics.

Both Kirsten and her husband prefer to travel on land rather than in the air. They take time for whatever environment they may be in, and visit with equal joy new as well as already visited countries.

Since she was quite young, Kirsten has challenged herself and others on various journeys, especially because she is in a wheelchair. The challenge is probably greatest for others, as Kirsten has long since got used to a life in a wheelchair. For Kirsten, most things are ridiculous; it is for her about will spiced with a bit of imagination. Others often let doubt get in the way and see obstacles rather than opportunities.

Since May 2014, Kirsten has also struggled with prolonged concussions, which has posed greater challenges than she has ever experienced as a disabled person in a wheelchair. Travel during this period has been more limited, but travel - she wants to.




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