Today began with a massive breakfast -I was the only guest at the B&B but I think the owner had just decided to serve up everything she had anyway. Cakes,waffles, fruit, yoghurt, bruschetta, cheese, ham, tomatoes, Nutella, jam-it was like the whole buffet had been put on my table. Obviously I complied with cycle touring law and what I couldn’t eat found it’s way into my panniers for later.
Later. Hmm . I needed to make up a bit of time. My decision to skip Albania meant that I was now heading for Brindisi (rather than Bari) and onward to Greece. Ferry schedules meant now that I needed to be in Brindisi tomorrow lunchtime and unless I was planning to cycle until midnight I wasn’t going to make it in time .
So plan B-bike about 30 miles round to Taranto and then catch the train into Brindisi, overnighting there and reacquainting myself with Grimaldi Lines for the 1pm sailing to Igoumenitsa in Greece .
I don’t want to seem negative about this part of Italy but today was probably best described as “functional” and I didn’t feel I was missing out by getting the train for the last leg . It wasn’t awful by any means but it was quite busy and very industrial. But the sun was shining and a bad day on the bike is better than a good day in the office etc etc . Nevertheless I was glad to arrive at Taranto and onto the train
I’ve spoken before about accessibility on the Italian train network and today, bafflingly, was just the same. No lifts and a big gap between train and platform. The train did have a dedicated bike space (hooray) accessed by three big steps (boo). More an observation than a criticism but it certainly seems to make life (for some people anyway) unnecessarily tricky
Brindisi was lovely. Like every port town it had a cosmopolitan feel and an understated charm. I get the impression that most people just pass through, either from the port or from the nearby (Ryanair served ) airport, dispersing into the villas and hotels in “nicer” parts of Puglia, but doing that meant missing out on a thriving buzzy town, full of maritime history and casual culture. And probably the nicest pizza I’d had in Italy so far….
The next day was another ferry. I’ll never not be excited by cycling onto a ferry, (even a Grimaldi Lines ferry 😊) and today was no exception. Foreign ports have barely any signs. Or directions. Or anything to help you know where to go. The whole operation is designed around the principle of “follow the person in front of you” and it actually works really well 😊
No doubt different in the Summer but todays ferry was mainly full of lorries-bike storage was in a really cramped below decks office, making the previous trip (where the bike was strapped to a random forklift truck) seem luxurious .
Twelve hours later and I was in Greece. My last country, and how bloody exciting. To get here, without flying, made me feel really chuffed,quite intrepid and fairly pleased with myself. But enough of the (covering all audience age ranges here 😊😊) Alan Whicker/Michael Palin/Simon Reeve indulgence ,it was nearly midnight and I needed to find my way out of the port in the dark and locate my accommodation for the night -I decided to just follow the person in front of me (😊) and luckily it paid off .