The Big Trip with Nick & Ange travel blog


We checked in at 9pm, for the 11pm sailing. Once we started boarding, it didn’t go as quickly as expected; in fact it was the slowest boarding we’d had. It became clear as we neared the front of the line that the border guards were being extremely thorough when it came to the checks they were performing. We thought they were targeting specific nationalities when they went over the Bosnians and the Irish with a toothpick, but when they went for the guy from Liechtenstein in front of us, we knew we were for it to.

However, (and if Nick’s inspector is reading just ignore the next bit), Nick just happened to have his warrant card casually on display when he got out of the van, and while I was in the back throwing bags around trying to open the safe to get Doug’s papers out, Nick was having a little conversation with the guy in the uniform. Next minute, we were waived through. No bomb search, no opening of bags, no papers required. “He’s a cop” the official said to his pals. Nice.

Naively, we’d bought “deck” class tickets, thinking that we’d manage to find somewhere to sleep on the boat, but it became clear that that was just stupid, so we upgraded to a cabin with shared facilities instead. Doug was allowed to come on board with us, so it was fine. We got a good night’s sleep on this former Brittany Ferry, and docked in Bari at 8am the next morning. Buongiorno! Again!

A bit about the planned itinerary might be helpful here I think. The plan was to have three weeks in Greece, then four weeks in Italy, giving us a fortnight to get to Spain for Christmas. Based on the assumption that it would be warmer later in Greece than in Italy, we had decided to do two weeks in the south of Italy, then the three weeks in Greece, then back to Italy making our way up to the north for the final two weeks there. This made sense also because we had to come back to Italy to get to Greece from the Balkans anyway. It was either that or drive through Albania.

So, on getting to Bari, the plan was to go to Sicily for 11 days, then back up to Puglia for a week, then sail to Greece. Even better, Nick’s mum Vivien had arranged to come over and meet us in Sicily for a week.

Right, back to disembarking at Bari. It was one of those decisions where we thought instead of breaking the journey, we’ll just drive hell for leather down to Sicily in one go. It was horrible; thunder and lightning, roadworks, another ferry journey, more rain, crappy campsite in Acireale.

Enough said about that day, I think.

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