Archives for posts with tag: Italy

We’re feeling lucky. On this trip we’ve had a couple instances of receiving either bad or no information about desired bus connections. In both cases the missed connections led us to much better travel experiences. Thank you bus gods.

After a ferry from Albania we arrived in Puglia, southern Italy, and went to stay in the lovely baroque town of Lecce. italy1-010We both had colds which  dampened interest in sight seeing but we still went out. The echo effect in the baroque churches, caused by a hacking cough, is quite amazing. The candles flickered and the cherubs seemed to shake.  Scared even us.sicily1-011

We’ve had another bus schedule cock up. We visited the bus station for information and were told we could catch a 7pm bus the next night and to pay on board. So we checked out next morning and walked the baroque streets and huddled in a park, two cafes, a church, a pastry shop and a bar. 8 hours later we walked to the bus station just to find out the information was wrong and the bus was canceled due to a local holiday. Thankfully the ticket agent gave us a much better alternative that left early the next morning.  So we found a hotel, fell into bed and stayed another day in Lecce. Early the next morning was a bus to Taranto. We had cash ready when boarding and were promptly kicked off by the driver indicating tickets must be bought somewhere in the direction he was pointing. I went sprinting that direction and found nothing open accept a cafe. No bus tickets. So I ran back, muttering “another day in Lecce”. Bless the driver. He let us on without paying. We got a free ride to Taranto where we had a 4 hour layover. Lovely city full of fashionistas and fishermen. italy1-013Then down the coast to Consenza.

Next day another lovely bus ride concluding three weeks from Athens to Sicily and probably our last bus. Yeah!

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In a previous episode I proudly displayed my 3 page trip itinerary in 10pt font just before our flight to Greece.  It turned out to be as good a travel guide as the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. itinerary  Our adventure started on the Isle of Cephalonia.

The original itinerary:
Day 1: Ferry & 2 buses from Ionian island of Cephalonia to Ioannina, the connection town for a bus to Corfu.
Day 2: Bus to port of Igoumenitsa and ferry to Corfu
Day 3&4: Relax in Corfu before returning to Igoumenitsa and a ferry to Italy
Day 5: Ferry to Italyitin-map1

What actually happened:

Day 1: Ferry 3 hours late due to weather. Rough crossing. rough-seasOn the mainland we only get as far as nearby town of Agrinio and book next day tix for Ioannina.
Day 2: Just as we are getting on the Ioannina bus we see one next to us pulling out that is going directly to Corfu. KTEL, the Greek bus line, must be run by the Greek secret service. They only give out information on a need to know basis and I guess we weren’t on that list. We boarded the bus to Ioannina where I pictured the Corfu bus on the ferry as the warm sun set over the island. Meanwhile we were headed for the frozen mountains.
Day 3: Frost on the ground. itowns-001As we board the bus for Igoumenista the driver asks, “Do you want to be dropped at the port for Corfu?”. “Yes please, how nice.” When we arrive at the port the driver tells us there is a seaman strike that started this morning and the ferries aren’t going for 2 days. At least we’re now on the need to know list. I again picture the Corfu bus people sitting in sunny Corfu cafes. We book into the little port of Igoumenitsa and wait for the strike to end.
Day 4: The strike is extended for two more days and threatening more. The Seamen’s Union is striking against higher taxes and reduced pensions. It’s a little strange to think that the government is going to reduce taxes because of a sailor’s strike.  Meanwhile people are stranded everywhere. There are 5 people  recently released from a mainland hospital who are trying to get home to Corfu and are stranded along with us. I realize we were lucky to have missed the infamous Corfu bus. That night over a cheap bottle of Greek wine we came up with a brilliant plan B (or is it C, D or E by now?). The plan was great, the wine, maybe not.itin-map2
Day 5: We boarded a bus for the Albanian border. Apparently it’s no longer a communist dictatorship and ferries are still running there. As we neared Albania there were only 3 passengers, Erica, myself and a shepherd who was dropped off at his flock. After the border we found a taxi to the first town 50k away. alb-013There we changed money and found a minibus leaving for the port of Vlore. Four hours and hundreds of switchbacks later we arrived at our ferry. alb-026We loved the 24 hours we had in Albania.
Day 6: Ferry to Italy. Now my only problem is that I’ve caught my second cold in two weeks. Spaghetti sauce is full of vitamin C?
Day 7-10 Greek seamen union strike extended.  Feeling sorry for the Corfu bus people. Like Papillon they might be making straw rafts and waiting for the seventh wave to carry them back to the mainland. papillonSo much for itineraries.