Interrail day ten – (Sannicandro di) Bari (and sort of to Igoumenitsa)

7 May

I say “sort of” because while I’ll be setting off this evening, I won’t get to Greece until tomorrow. So I’m spending today in the village of Sannicandro, just outside Bari, because that is where Ida and Genti live.

After being on my own for so long, it’s nice to be back in a family home, catching up with Ida, who has been my friend since before we married two brothers, and correcting my niece’s English pronunciation. (Her maestra – teacher – has quite the Italian way of pronouncing words.)

Genti and Ida’s house

We got up late after the party, and went out for breakfast. I got a wholemeal croissant, which was the least sweet thing available, and an americano. Americanos here are called “caffe lungo”, or long coffee, but the further south I have travelled, the shorter long coffees have got. Ida ordered me a coffee “as long as possible”, and this is what turned up:

On the way back home, I took a few photos to prove that there are nice things in Sannicandro – a church, a castle and a very typical Italian street. I have visited before, at least once, but it must have been almost ten years ago, Ida and Genti were less settled, and I didn’t get as nice an impression of the place. They seem very happy there now, even if job opportunities are not as plentiful or well paid as they might like.

The rest of the morning was given over to producing a big, Albanian-style lunch, with tuna pasta (that’s an Italian thing, though), potato casserole with carrots and unidentified meat (that’s an Albanian thing – tav me patate) and bakllava to finish 😋 which had been brought to Italy from Albania by Ida’s mum.

I think everyone had a siesta in the afternoon, at various different times, and then all too soon it was time to go to the port to check in. Genti drove me, and also asked directions, as the ferry check-in was unhelpfully labelled as being for cruise ship passengers. Then we couldn’t drive any further and I was on my own.

Again, labelling was unhelpful and although there were a collection of pre-fabs called “embarcation”, “baggage check” and so on, there was no one there and they were all locked. A couple of blonde girls were waiting there in the hope that these facilities would open later, but I was less convinced and went to ask someone. Sure enough, the entrance for passengers was in a completely different location. I went back to tell the girls and they followed me as far as security, but then I didn’t see them come out, despite waiting on the ferry entrance ramp for several minutes. (I couldn’t go back as my ticket was already torn off to indicate I had boarded. ) I assume their bags were checked while mine wasn’t, but I at least got them a lot closer to the entrance of the ship. I hope they made it.

The cabin on the ferry was a pleasant surprise. I don’t remember when I last took an overnight ferry, but it certainly didn’t have an en suite bathroom! I was first into the room and took advantage of the solitude to have a shower and choose my bed. No one else had arrived by the time I went to get dinner and see us pulling out of port, but I don’t know if that will be the case when I go back. I’m armed with earplugs and an eye mask, though. I’m half hoping those two girls are in my cabin, just so I know what became of them.

Anyway, we have pulled out of the port and will soon be in international waters. Maybe because you’ve already had your ticket checked and so on, setting off in a ship (or plane) is not like setting off on a train. There’s no anxiety about whether you’re on the right one, just a thrill of excitement when you feel the movement start. But I’m not willing to pay maritime roaming charges, so I’d better get this uploaded. See you on the other side!

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