The trip from Naples to Athens was an all-day, all-night affair that featured no less than two trains, one ginormous ferry, and a bus, but it was one of the most memorable events of our honeymoon.
You see, when I planned the trip I knew that the Greek portion was going to be the most complex because ferries run certain routes on certain days. Initially I planned for us to get from Naples to Bari, Italy and take a ferry on Sunday, but alas, there wouldn’t have been enough time to make the transfer and I read on the interweb that the Italian Train system runs on something that once was a schedule but is now more of a general guideline. For whatever reason I couldn’t seem to find any information on the internet about buses from Naples to Bari, so I settled on the train option when I planned to spend an extra day in Naples and forego a night in Bari.
So here’s how it went. We got up bright and early, had breakfast, and checked out of Hotel Zara, making it to the train station with plenty of time to spare and boarding the unairconditioned commuter train from Napoli Centrale to Caserta. About halfway through the trip a family of gypsies hopped on the train and pulled out some birds and magic wands and all sorts of hoopla and made a ton of noise, annoying the older gentleman across from us. I seriously thought his eyes would roll all the way out of his head and onto the floor.
Eventually someone asked us if we were heading into the mountains (or some such thing in Italian) and he translated. OH. You speak English. I see. So he asked where we were headed and told us we could have taken a bus from Naples to Bari in 2 hours, and that the trains were terrible. THIS STUFF SHOULD BE ON THE INTERNET. Anyhow, we transferred in Caserta and started rolling towards Bari on what should have been a 4 hour train ride a group of partied-out and very loud locals on their way back from some sort of event in Rome. Then the train stopped. And didn’t start again. We sat at a station somewhere in central Italy for an hour. Then two. Finally we got moving again after everyone was moved to the back of the train, and a couple hours later we arrived in Bari.
Following our usual arrival procedure, we found the tourist information booth and learned the ferry port was about a 20 minute walk from the station. We walked, had a slice of pizza, walked some more, and finally walked right through the security gate of the ferry port. I saw the smokestack of the SUPERFAST ferry in the distance and we walked. And walked. And walked. Finally the ticketing booth came into view, so I checked us in, got our tickets, and we walked to the ship. It was all very industrial, until we walked up to the back of the ship and took the escalator up to the passenger deck.
Port of Bari
Carolyn on deck!
The interior of our Superfast Ferry. Nice digs.
HOLY COW. It was like a cruise ship. There were men in tuxedo vests serving wine, a nice place to set down our bags, air conditioning, nice seats, and a wine list! It was clear at this point that we had found a good way to spend an evening. We watched the trucks load, stood out on the deck a bit before we departed, and then settled down in the lounge with a glass of wine. When the restaurant opened we lined up and had a meal and a bottle of wine next to the bow side windows, and had a great view as we sailed into the sunset (romantic, non?)
Sailing into the sunset. Arrividerci, Italy! Hello, Greece!
Romantic desserts are a must when sailing through the Mediterranean!
Then it happened. Italy was in the rear-view mirror and we were suddenly in Greece. The group sitting next to us had three or four Greek Orthodox ministers in its midst, and they started singing. SINGING I TELL YOU. They sang for hours, and as they did so we kept ordering bottles of wine. DON’T JUDGE US. The ship had miniature bottles of wine. We would have been in trouble if they were full-size. At any rate, the singing progressed to dancing. Greeks dancing and singing. We loved it. It was almost like being at one of the family gatherings in My Big Fat Greek Wedding except without the helpful subtitles. After a bit we headed back to our seats, laid down, and got some rest.
Good morning, Greece!
Odysseus was here! Okay, that’s totally unverifiable, but I’d like to think so.
Our first Greek Selfie
The water in and around Greece is perfectly blue.
Port of Patras, our first steps into Greece.
My lovely wife posing in front of the entire nation of Greece. 🙂
The next morning we awoke when the ship pulled into the first port, dropping off most of the trucks. We had some coffee and breakfast, and then headed outside to have a look. The water was beautifully blue and clear. Carolyn left the deck for a minute to run inside and I saw a blue marlin swimming alongside the ship. She doesn’t believe any of it, but it’s true. When she came back, as the islands of Greece started to come into view, the church group showed up and started singing again. It was really, really idyllic.
The Parthenon lit up at night. A good way to end our first day in Greece.
Once we arrived we caught a bus from Patrassos to Athens, then braved the Athenian metro system until we found our hotel. This is when I realized that stupid pledge I made to a stupid fraternity in college paid off. I could read the Greek alphabet. Heh. Slowly. Anyway, we arrived in Athens, had dinner with a view of the Parthenon, and soaked up some Greek hospitality, which, I assure you, is far more amazing than you would ever expect.