|Today was the beginning of our trek to Greece. We knew it was going to be a long trek in the first place, so we headed out on the first train of the morning from Rome to the southeast coast of Italy to a town called Bari. Our train left at 7:30am and was suppose to arrive in Bari at 12:30. Well, from following the cities on the map as we passed them, it was apparent we were going to be late. This nice 28 year old guy who was sitting next to us started talking to us. He lives in Bari and goes to Rome on the weekends for school. He said that we were late because there was a bomb found on the train tracks. I still don't know the exact story, but I think we heard it was an old WWII bomb, and it wasn't necessarily on our tracks, but some tracks that caused all trains to be diverted around causing a lot of trains to be late. Well, considering all of that hoopla, we were only 1 hour late getting to Bari at around 1:30.
So when we got to Bari, Fabio (that was the guy's name) pointed us in the direction of the port and also told us that the Pope was in town that day. (At that point we thought that was funny that the Pope was following us around Italy) Boy, there were A LOT of people in town!! And we felt like we were walking against traffic, fighting our way to get to the port. We finally got to the water and started looking for the ferry. It wasn't very obvious where the ferry was, so we were walking and walking and getting hotter and hotter. Plus we were hungry because the 6 hour train we were on only served coffee and very light snacks for too much money. We figured we would get our ferry tickets, then get something to eat. Finally we found the ferry, but the gates were closed and there were all these people sitting there with luggage all around. The ferry from Bari, Italy to Patras, Greece is suppose to run daily at 8pm. Well, lo and behold, it turns out that the ferry isn't running that day because the Pope is in town. Now, why the trains are running, but not the ferry, I don't know. We couldn't believe it. We didn't have any reservations to honor in Greece right away, but thinking about finding a hotel room in Bari with the mobs of people in town was not looking good. So we headed back to the train station. We took a cab because we were so tired and hot, and he said the same thing about things being shut down because of the Pope. Then I heard him say the town Brindisi in some context (he didn't speak really any English), and I remember that it was another port that ferries left from that went to Greece. So I told DJ we should take the train there and try to get a ferry that night. From my guidebook, ferries left there every other day, so we had a 50/50 chance. If not, at least we could probably find a hotel room easier. So we got to the train station and made the train that left in 10 minutes!! (Before boarding we were quickly shoving coins into the vending machine pressing buttons for any kind of food)
At this point we felt like we were on the Amazing Race and that if we hadn't of taken tha cab and walked to the train station instead, we wouldn't have made that train. There had been a British woman trying to figure out what to do at the train station too, but she decided to figure something out in Bari. So, we headed to Brindisi on the train, about an hour away. There was hardly anybody on the train, DJ walked the length of it and found two Koren women who were also going to Brindisi to try and get to Greece, so we had a couple of people in the same boat with us.
So, we got to Brindisi and luckily there was a ferry leaving. Actually there were a couple leaving (we didn't know until we were on our ferry) and we ended up taking the slightly slower one. It left at 7pm and got to Patras at 10am Monday. Since we were leaving from a different port (and this one was MUCH bigger and more confusing), it was more expensive that we had planned. So instead of getting a cabin with a bed, we opted for the cheapest "deck" fare. Basically you sleep wherever you want. That's what the Korean woman did also. The ship was huge and we made our way to the bar. There were a bunch of people our age (well, younger probably) that had the same "Bari Experience" making their home on the ferry in the bar too. There was hardly anybody on the ferry since it's not yet high season, so I'm glad we paid for the cheapest fare. We ended up having some drinks and talking to everyone about where they had travelled so far and where they were headed in Greece, it was pretty fun. Then we crashed out on the floor of the bar, but it was nice and cozy actually. MUCH better than the night train from hell the few days before. (Plus there was a cafeteria on the ferry where we filled our empty tummies with mediocre pricey food, but we didn't care at that point.)