Page 27

Greece   

 Italy

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NIGHT 83

The SUPERFAST FERRY II

Patra, Greece to Bari, Italy

Now we are having fun! The Superfast Ferry is fast, we are zooming along. Someone said at 27 knots, but I donít know. It surprises me to look out the back of the boat and see that there is no wake.

Our adventure began last night when we assembled with our bikes and a bag of overnight necessities on the dock. We were given a room assignment and then we walked our bikes down and down metal ramps to the lowest level of the ferry.

There we parked them head to tail, all snugged together to conserve space. While our bikes overwhelm an airplane, they occupied only a small bit of that deck on this enormous ferry.

After parking the bikes we climbed the stairs up several levels, waiting in line on the stairs to receive a room assignment and key. As usual it was a long wait because there are so many of us and because there was a misunderstanding between TK&A and the Fastferry staff. It was stifling in that staircase. Finally we were told to find 3 roommates and appear together at Reception to get a room number and key. Biker Al and I had been assigned to room together so we quickly scooped up two new roommates, Allison and Shelli, got our keys and found our room. Make that ďcubbyholeĒ. It was very hot in the room, well into the 90ís but we thought that might change once the ferry sailed. We each had a bunk, the two upper bunks were folded against the wall until needed. We had a complete bathroom including warm water in the shower. To top it off we had an outside room, our window looked out the bow of the ferry! We thought it was wonderful, much much better than spending a night on an airplane.

Later though the reality was something less than wonderful. It way too hot in there and it took 3 requests and about that many hours to have someone appear to fix the problem. Both Al and Allison were sick with bad colds, Al was at the recovery stage but Allison was just getting started. She was burning with fever, short of breath, and coughing constantly. It promised to be a poor night. But worst of all, Al made no bones about being annoyed at rooming with Allison and all the germs floating around and how we would all be sick. Soon she had poor Allison in tears. We three were on our bunks, roasting in the hot room, unable to sleep for the heat, coughing, and grumbling when Judy and Dorothy stopped to chat. Our door was open and I imagine they heard Allison coughing. Judy produced some cough drops and that almost immediately gave Allison some relief. Then Shelli our 4th roommate, popped in. She went to find another rider, Anita, who is a doctor. Anita asked a lot of questions, listened to Allison breathe and offered advice. Allison was grateful and happier and had a restful night. She feels much better this morning.

Our dinner and breakfast were served in the cafeteria, the trays all ready so that it would be fast and we couldnít heap our plates, and we were encouraged to eat and run so that others could be seated. But the food was very good and we were full and content.

There is a duty free shop, a bar, a casino, and a swimming pool on the ferry but I didnít take advantage of them. I did enjoy watching our departure from Patra which looked beautiful in the sunset with the high snow covered mountains behind it.

Now the ferry has docked in Bari, Italy and the sun is shining. Soon we will descend into the bowels of the ship to find our bikes and disembark. We are ready to begin our Italian adventure.

Goodbye, Alice 

DAY 84

Bari to Alberobello 

Today we arrived in Bari, Italy via the Fast Ferry from Patra, Greece. The unloading went without a hitch and soon we were on our way. Within a couple of minutes I was knocked over by a tandem passing me on the right without warning. It is customary to call out Ďpassing on the leftí or Ďon the rightí depending on the country. Here in Italy it would be correct to pass on the left.  I didnít even see them coming. I think they thought they could squeeze by but their panniers got me. We had just made a left turn onto a major street. I was concentrating on the traffic and all the bicycles in front of me. So Iíve learned another lesson, I will stay out of an intersection until the other bicycles have passed. Some riders always want to get ahead and take unnecessary risks. Luckily for me the cars were stopped and I just toppled over onto the fender of the car beside me. But I hit the fender hard enough to knock the wind out of me and now I feel bruised on that side and it is painful to move. Bummers. I got back on my bike and rode but it wasnít fun. Thankfully for me it was a short day.

Everyone is happy to have left Greece and to be in Italy. Today was sunny and much warmer but the important difference is the people. In Greece we were largely ignored. Once in awhile a driver would give me a thumbs up or a honk and a wave, but the people on the streets and working around their homes ignored us and didnít respond to a shouted greeting. Today though Italians of all ages cheered us on shouting greetings of welcome and encouragement. It looks like cycling in Italy will be fun.

The air is grey and dirty. We did not go through an industrial area so the pollution must come from cars and from farmers burning old crops or pruned olive tree branches. In Greece those branches were given to the goats before being burned, but there donít seem to be goats here. There were acres and acres of olive trees and vineyards on our route today.

Also on our route was the Castellana Grotte or cave. I took the tour and was impressed with how extensive the cave is and the enormity of some of the rooms. There were huge stalactites and stalagmites. Obviously the cave has been there for millions of years but was only discovered in 1939. There is a large opening at ground level (about 200 meters above the floor of the cave) so I wonder how it took so long for anyone to notice it. Bats and mice live in the cave. We could hear the bats but I didnít see either the bats or the mice.

The other special attraction today was a type of home called a trulli. From the outside these homes have squared walls and conical roofs made of long flat bricks. Inside the homes are circular. (I read that, I havenít been in one.) The story going around is that in the 14th century this architectural style came about as a way to avoid high taxes. Mortar was not used to hold the bricks together, apparently the conical shape made mortar unnecessary. When the time came for the tax collector to come to town people quickly dismantled their homes, (or at least removed the roofs) to make their houses less valuable and thus avoid heavy taxes. Itís a good story anyway. There are many of them here in Alberobello.

Goodbye, Alice 


Greece

   


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