After a very short rest we were due to meet up for the trek to the summit. Our tour leader was a little late and then told us that the guide we would need for the route beyond 400m was going to be late. We set off and passed an old cemetery abandoned in 1903. It was hot and the sun was still well above the horizon. At 270m, those of us not going up to 900m left the main group and walked across the flank of the mountain towards the observatory. It was a pleasure to leave the crowds plodding upwards and enjoy the peace of walking by ourselves. We met four young people from New Zealand who were carrying on uphill and continued to the observatory down what was said to be a mule track but which had not been used by mules for some time. The outside tables at the observatory were at two levels. We sated our thirst on the upper level, watching eruptions on the summit. Eventually we realised that to order a meal, we had to be at the lower level, continuing to watch the display. We enjoyed a meal and good wine before wending our way back to the hotel with our headtorches providing light and hoping that our friends were doing well on their descent. I was quite happy not to be walking off a mountain in the dark and down a dark ash scree.
A 4am awakening and 5am departure was necessary to get the ferry from Milazzo at 7.20am. Some people can sleep on buses and boats but not me. We found a seat near the front to give James more legroom only to find that a crew member had to climb over him every time we came into a port as he was in charge of the ropes. The sea was calm and the ferry called in at Salinas and Lipari before we caught our first sight of Stromboli ahead.
Having docked we walked to the office so that those who were climbing to the summit this evening could sign all the documentation (we are not as James strained a muscle on a descent the other day) and then picked up supplies before settling in at our beachside hotel and having lunch. The town is very pretty with narrow lanes and alleys and a black sand beach which we will have time to explore more tomorrow. The volcano towers above it.
Now it is time to get ready for the small climb to the 400m viewpoint.