places i have been

An Unexpected Day in Bari

posted 8/5/03

The Antennae of Bari

Now Thatsa Castle-- fully equipped with moat and drawbridge

Big Balls of Stone - possibly for use with a Catapult?

You Just Never Know When a Castle is Gonna Pop Up and Change Your Attitude!

8/1 In case you have only a hazy grasp of Italy's geography, let me assure you that Trieste is _not on the way to Bari from Siena. If you are taking a bus around the northern end of the Adriatic to Croatia, then Trieste is indeed on the way. But if you are going the ferry route, then way-down-south Bari is a better bet and so there we were in Bari with nothing but time....

What to do?
Luckily, it was a relatively cool day, which only says that it took all the way until mid day for us to get hot and bothered. In the meantime, we found a cool, comfy internet cafe for an e-mail check (No, can't hook up the laptops.... the net connection is Windows so it won't work with Macs! You will be happy to learn that your brain-washing plan is succeeding in Bari, Mr. Gates!)

Actually, the gent running the place was quite pleasant - gave us a great lead on a local lunch spot and let us leave our luggage while chasing down English language books (our reading material was getting pretty thin - down to one old New Yorker, an equally old Atlantic Monthly and a positively ancient MacUser...) The beer (for Fred) and wine (for me... and Fred) put a rosy glow on the day. We retrieved our luggage and struck off into the maze of old city walls adjacent to the port. Fred devised a way to make all of our luggage follow him like a well-heeled puppy dog and the day stayed coolish.

Call it dumb luck or call it the Mallett nose but somehow we happened upon an unexpected castle - a friendly old local guy who welcomed us in, insisting we park our luggage behind the counter, and - in case that was not enough - a Modigliani and friends exhibition upstairs. And here's us with a whole afternoon to kill whatta shame, eh?

And here we have a rusty helmet, sized extra extra huge, just hanging out and getting rustier

What the locals do on a Saturday Night

Our cabin in the Marko Polo

Our first view of the Croatian Coast

The castle was mostly unrestored and not as heavily guarded with lots of restrictions like other old places we had been, which was very cool with us. We took our sweet time and then went through the Modigliani exhibit - would have been nice if there had been more info in English as I am pretty unfamiliar with the guy and his painterly mistress/wife Jeanne and it helps to have the bio stuff when you look at someone's artwork but enjoyed it nonetheless. Took one single outlaw pic of one of the paintings that most impressed me - Titled "Carytid" I think...? I am pretty sure I have seen it before but not up close and personal like this, of course.

After we had stretched the castle visit out as long as possible we wandered around town a bit more but were starting to feel like we had outworn our welcome - if that welcome had indeed ever been truly extended.
One old man graced us with a look of unabashed hostility as we rattled by. The staff at the Crete American Bar looked very uninterested in serving any real Americans at their establishment. Was it our clothes? Was it that we had gone a few too many hours without access to a shower? Was it the trailing luggage train identifying us as just passing time until the next ship comes in? Who knows. We definitely felt unwelcomed. Passed an hour or two along the "boardwalk" where people brought out chairs for the evening passagio.

It had been a pretty good sight-seeing day for being totally unplanned but I would be pretty okay with never seeing Bari again.

The Cruise

Once we got on the Marko Polo everything was easy again - reception issued us a key and directions to our tiny cabin which was actually far more spacious and comfortable then expected. For an overnight cruise, paying extra for a cabin is definitely the way to go, especially if - like us - you had been without bed or shower facilities for two long. The cabin had no window but the ac worked fine - I grabbed a shower first thing while Fred went in search of bevvies - brought me back a glass of wine and after he had showered too we took a quick walk on the deck to see the bustling port (things really get jumping there around midnight) and what the people who did not spring for a cabin were doing (spreading sleeping bags out on every square inch of available space.... yecchhh.

We were exhausted and without further ado fell into bed and slept soundly right through until the wakeup knock came on the door - about 6 am. Grabbed a quick bite at the complimentary breakfast bar and we were off the boat before 8 am. Customs was a breeze, changed some money into kuna (about 7.5 to a euro) and decided to forego the bus for an easier taxi to old town - 65 kuna.

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