Travel: Longest Travel day EVER (III)

Finally emerging from Bari Castle, I was absolutely starving! I dragged my bedraggled and tired body back on route to the port hoping to grab some food on the way. Unfortunately, being a smaller coastal town, there weren’t a lot of options. I didn’t really have time for a sit-down, and the one food truck I passed didn’t have anything available! (Or simply didn’t understand my pointing or limited and slaughtering of the Italian language).

As a result, I finally make it to the port! (and consequently purchase my sustenance on board)

2013-06-04 05.54.49

The important thing to note is that the journey from Bari to Patras lasts for a minimum of 18 hours. The basic ferry ticket does not include a bed or an official seat. There’s some assigned seating in the form of small auditorium, but the rest is a lounge or public space. As a poor, traveling, recently graduate student, I opted for the base charge that went with my EuroRail pass. Therefore, I ended up sleeping on one of the booth seats that you often see in diners. Not exactly the most comfortable way to pass the night, especially if you are carrying all your earthly possessions in a backpack.

2013-06-03 11.09.37

Fortunately, I passed the time with some avid reading of my Kindle, some book-keeping for my expenses in my beloved Moleskine, and the uploading of all my media onto my Macbook Air. When it came time to pass out, I used my carabiners to strap the loops of my backpack to my belt-loops (This way I didn’t have to sleep on top of a lumpy bag, or cuddle it on my stomach. (Carabiners are my best friend).

18 crawling hours later, we dock in Patras Greece, exiting the ferry doors to the smell of the sea and fresh sunshine. Finding the bus-stop required to take me to town, I met up with some backpackers, a few traveling solo, and a few with friends.  1 hour later, we arrived at the main bus terminal. From there, it was either a 30 min walk to the train station (with questionable service) or tickets on a bus for about $25 Euro. We just went for it. (At this point we were waaaay too exhausted to even consider the alternative option).

2013-06-04 06.49.34

Starving, we used the time we had to venture up the street for food. And I got my first official taste of grecian food in the country of Greece at a placed called Snoopy’s!

2013-06-04 06.57.41

Granted it was a Gyro, which is actually pronounce yero, but for about $3 Euro, I got two Gyro’s and they were absolutely fantastic!

A 4-hour bus ride later, we reached the outskirts of Athens. (We meandered about confused for awhile until an english-species grecian helped us out).

The ride into the city center took us about 45 mins. Getting off, we had to take a bus in the opposite direction because the bus driver failed to notify us of our stop.

So let’s sum up my estimated travel time from Rome to Greece.

  • 3-4 hours train
  • 18 hour ferry
  • 1 hour bus
  • 4 hours bus
  • 45 min bus

Equals, it took me MORE than a FULL day to successfully physically relocate my body from the peninsula of Italy to the Peninsula of Greece. Whew!


Travel: Longest Travel day EVER.

The last leg of my trip, I was excited to rendezvous with some good friends from home sweet home, New Jersey. 🙂 Unfortunately I was meeting with them in Athens, Greece, and getting there from Italy is not quite as straight forward as it seems with the EuroRail Pass. I first had to manage to get myself to the Eastern side of Italy to a town called Bari. From there, I was to hop a ferry (paying only the fuel surcharge and port tax) which would get me to the Grecian Peninsula Town of Patras (I’d figure out the last leg when I got to Greece.)

2013-06-03 05.29.16

Rather than rushing through each transit option, and to avoid a stopover on my train, I chose a 7 AM train. This allowed me a few hours to explore Bari before being sequestered on a ferry for the 18-hour cruise time.

2013-06-03 05.32.41

Arriving in this quaint town around 10 AM, I strolled to the port to acquire my tickets and stretch my legs. Being a port town, the sun was bright, the air was fresh with salt, and the atmosphere was relaxed.

2013-06-03 05.49.38After obtaining my tickets and boarding time, I decided to embrace the concept of aimless wandering, particularly because I hadn’t planned on having time to explore Bari.

2013-06-03 08.56.30

I first ventured into the Basilica di San Nicola.  Built between 1087 and 1197 during the Italo-Norman domination of Apulia, the foundation of this church has roots in the theft of St. Nicholas‘s relics from his original shrine in Myra (present-day Turkey).

2013-06-03 09.14.27

 According to the legend, the saint, having passed by the city on his way to Rome, had chosen Bari as his burial place. Despite the competition against Venice, Bari succeeded, and the relics safely landed on May 9, 1087 under the custody of its Greek custodians and Muslim masters.

It has maintained  religious significance as an important pilgrimage destination both for Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe.

2013-06-03 09.17.00

I paused to take a picture of my self with St. Nicholas himself! The storage place for luggage was closed since it was the off-season and a Sunday, so I did all this exploration with an approximately 25-lb backpack strapped to my back.