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. ūüôā 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.)

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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.

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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.

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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).

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 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.

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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.