Friday 3/8/07 Athens-Patras-Bari
After several days of anxiety finally the day our journey would begin came. The initial idea was put on the table from Nikolai and it was for Sardinia. However, the plans changed and we decided to travel along the Dalmatian coast. After several suggestions about the route we would follow we concluded to this. From Patras we would take the ship to Bari and then, again by ship, to Dubrovnik (South) and drive to the North. We met at Elefsina toll station, out of Athens, and left for Patras at 3:30 pm, with our ship departing at 6:00 pm. Fortunately, everything went ok and after 2 hours of fast and anxious driving we arrived at the port and after checking-in we prepared for embarkation. Me, Nikolai and Thanos secured the bikes and Theo, Paschalia and Dimitra went in the lounge to find a place where we could sit. When we went up we were happily surprised as they had occupied two big sofas as well as enough place for our things and a comfortable night sleep.
Saturday 4/8/07 Bari – Polignano – Monopoli (80 km)
We get of the “Blue Horizon” and step on Italian ground. A short stop at the exit of the port in order to place our things on the bike and we are off for a coffee… We have an original Italian cappuccino and start riding outside Bari to the south, in order to fill the day as our ship to Dubrovnik would depart at 12:00 am. The route was mostly by the sea and was quite pleasant. After about 30 km we reach Polignano and decide to stay for a while as it is the most picturesque place we have seen so far. We stroll through the narrow streets and end up in front of the sea staring at the beautiful view. The houses there are built on the rocks, which are eaten by the sea, and in combination with the green water, they offer a unique view. We make some photos and we enter a small restaurant for pizza and beer! Then we walk in one of the main streets where we sit for a coffee and ice-cream. We have lots of fun there and finally spend a couple of hours at the cafe. We leave the town and head to the south for about 10 more km until we arrive at Monopoli. After a short ride in the town we head back to Bari as it didn’t offer any touristic attractions.
Back to Bari we look for a place to eat where we can also have the opportunity to keep an eye on the bikes. After some efforts in vain we end up at the same place where we had coffee in the morning and which also served food. Unfortunately, the food was disappointing and the carbonara proved to be a disaster. In the meantime, it started to get dark. We hang around the main square, where a concert was about to begin, and then rode to the port. There we faced an unpleasant surprised as we had to pay about €50/person tax (for traveling to non-EU countries) and raised our transportation costs.
We embarked in “Marco Polo” of Jadrolinija Lines, which was full of young Italians…all seats were taken. Finally, we found a place to sleep and fortunately the people of Jadrolinija wouldn’t bother you sleeping on the ship’s floor. Actually, you wouldn’t meet any of them so that one thought that the only person working there is the captain of the ship! We took out our sleeping-bags, mattress and... pump!