27 August 2017, 17:54 Italy time
After one night at sea, we spent a quiet and warm Sunday in Bari, Italy. This city, on the southeastern coast of Italy, is like many others, with an old town and a new town. In Europe, and other countries, they seem to like to keep the old there, for history and such. Yes, they’ve burned, pillaged, torn down, and destroyed some parts, but a lot of the large artifacts remain. In Bari, it’s the Normand-style castle and the old narrow streets that are the best parts of the old world, in this travler’s perspective, anyway.
We arrived about 10 a.m. Like most cruises, we don’t hop off the boat first thing, mainly because it’s less crowded, but we are also on vacation, which means we don’t really want to get up at the crack of dawn, just to get back on the boat five hours before we leave. Today was no exception. After getting up around 9 a.m., we got ready, had breakfast, and then boarded a shuttle bus to the city center. The shuttle was well worth the 9,90 Euros we paid, seeing as walking into town on a warm and humid day was not my idea of fun. We had that joy yesterday!
The shuttle bus was provided by the cruise line, and they allowed us to charge it to the room, so no cash Euros needed for that. When we got off the shuttle bus, we were approached by a nice Italian woman who spoke English. For 10 Euros each, we were treated to a several-hour tour of the city, including a mini train ride (think Key West trains), a walking tour, a stop at a taste-and-sip (olive bread and wine), and then a short tour of new town. All-in-all, it was one of the best unplanned tours we have had in a long time. For the price, it was unbeatable. The similar item offered by the cruise line was 49 Euros each. A bargain, then.
We toured two different cathedrals, including the one dedicated to Saint Nicholas, as in the patron saint of Bari and old Saint Nick himself. I feel like I have a total “in” at the holidays now, since he and I have actually met and all. I had my photo made with Santa a bit early this year. You can bet that photo will be on our Christmas card come November!
The cathedral was free to enter, and there were no charges once inside. I like my usual candle and gave my small offfering in honor of my Mamaw, as I do and have done in most cathedrals I’ve been to in Europe. It’s my own little tradition that makes me feel like she’s getting to experience those great places with me, even though she’s been gone nearly 20 years. Thinking of all the things I’ve been able to do in the past 20 years makes my head spin a bit. She’d love to hear of my adventures, I’m sure.
The cathedral was definitely Nordic in style, from the columns, to the domes, to everything in between. Russia gave the city a very nice statue of St. Nicholas that sits in the square just outside the cathedral. Inside, there is a very nice icon of him, as well as some interesting items in the crypt below. Cameras as welcome, although silence and no hats are the Norma, as they are elsewhere in these sorts of places.
After the tour, we toured the Nordic castle on our own. 16 Euros total, and it was worth it. I did drop my Santa statue that I just bought, though, and broke off his head. A little super glue will fix him up when I’m home, but I do wonder what this will do to my chances at getting anything in my stocking this year. Hopefully he will forgive me. I did give him the offering….
After the castle tour, we had pizza and ravioli with a glass of wine for me and a beer for my Sweetie, on the street. Total cost was 19,90 Euros – definitely worth it and delicious. Since it was Sunday when we were here, a lot of the shops were closed, but he streets were less crowded as a result. Win-win. I spent less than I would have otherwise, and we didn’t have to fight the crowds.
Leaving on a ship to the next destination is always bitttersweet, especially when you know that you will probably never be in that place again. Today is like that. I don’t know that we will ever be here again, but we did enjoy our time here. That’s good enough for me. We rejoined our crew and other guests on the MSC Poesia, setting sail for Greece, a place Sweetie has always wanted to go but never been. This is something I’ve wanted to do with and for him for a long time, so I’m glad we were able to make it happen. I look forward to seeing the ancient ruins of Greece and the wonderful blue waters. Sitting on the balcony this evening, I listen to our next door shipmates talkin another language. I can’t quite make out which one it is. This ship is like living in the house of babble. So many languages, so many voices, so many dialects. Some of the Italians don’t understand the other Italians any more than we understand them.
One thing I always find amazing on these trips to Europe are how laid back people really are. Little girls don’t wear swim tops and it’s okay. Men wear Speedos and it’s okay. The beaches are topless, and no one dies as a result. There is no ADA, no lawyer on every corner, no rules and regulations about making pasta out on the street, without gloves and food regulations. People have been living this way for generations, and, amazingly, they don’t die. They just live. I wish more Americans could just live. It would certainly are the world a better place.