Don’t worry were not going through the whole transport scene this week but after air it seemed only right to do the sea as it is big business down here. Like air the two big ports are Bari and Brindisi and from there ferry boats ( traghetti) fan out across the Adriatic. The most popular route is to Patras in Greece with over 14 sailings a week. But Albania is well served with ferries sailing into 3 ports over there. Dubrovnik further north has sailings from Bari and Montenegro also has ferries from Bari . Brindisi has the only sailings to Kefalonia. The ferries in the main are rather soulless fairly modern ships with lots of plastic and airline style seating or very cramped cabins. Patras is some 14 hours sailing and is overnight both ways. Corfu is 8 hours and seems these days to be served at ungodly hours of the early morning. The Montenegro ferries have more character and have bars on deck and indeed real deck space where you can promenade and lie looking up at the stars the way the ferries were when I first sailed to Corfu. But the rest are air conditioned ( take a jumper ) and if you can get out it is to some small restricted couple of feet of deck.
If you are planning a two centre holiday and taking a ferry the number one rule is take your own food and booze. The food on all of the ferries is excruciatingly bad and everyone happily takes everything for the voyage and the Italians even take over the cafeteria and lay out all their food and then use all the ships cutlery, plates, glasses, cork screws etc. This makes the trip quite fun as you eat and drink then head off to sleep either in a reclining seat or the aforementioned cabins. Ours both ways to/from Patras was a rather strange affair with the bathroom bigger than the cabin which didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. The ships from what other have told me are apparently quite noisy from an engine and vibration point of view but I guess the wine we took was very good at dulling all that and we slept like babies both ways.
Patras is as far as you go on the boat and you need then either to take the coach to Athens ( the sensible route as my wife kept telling me) or the silly route which is by train ( the one I chose). The rail gauge changes just before the Corinth Canal and so you need to change trains. But this involves getting off one train lugging your bags down 40 steps , pulling them through a tunnel and then carrying them up 40 steps. Oh and the train on the small gauge is half the size as well and we quickly figured out why all the know alls were off the first train like bunnies. No seats on the small one ! Now when I was young the ferry sailed through the canal. Here is what we are now missing
Think the BBC bribed someone to get Michael Palin through it.
Puglia was of course part of the Greek empire and was Grecia Magna for a very long time. The Greeks came to attend the numerous thermal spas that we have on the coast and they considered the weather here very healthy. South of Lecce and East of Otranto are eleven towns of Greek origin. The local dialect is very very similar to Greek, the centro storico areas have a Greek feel, the street names are still in Greek, the names above many of the shops are Greek and the dancing is also just like Greek . The pizzica is the most popular.
You can see the use of scarves which is also a key part of Greek dancing.
Just down the road from my house for 3 nights in early August we have a pizzica festival when the pizzica bands come and play and we drink beer and dance in the streets. This guy is a real star of the pizzica and tours the world playing at migrant Italian parties etc.
But it is only four months till Beppe Junior is back down our way
Ah the memories of The Home Service programme Down Your Way first with Franklin Engelmann hosting it. Then it was Brian Johnson the cricket commentator, he of the famous commentary when England were playing The West Indies and he said. ” To summarize for those of you just joining us the batsman is Holding, the bowlers Willey. ” and this classic