5.20.09 Driving Napoli to the Bari Ferry - Camping Onboard (nighttime)

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Our police motorcycle escort to the A3




Driving Napoli to the Bari Ferry - Camping Onboard (nighttime)


Who’d think we’d require a police escort to get to the highway entrance?!  Especially since we walked by it no fewer than eight times!  (Head sadly shaking)


With reliance on the GPS, we got turned around trying to get on the new highway ramps and ended up on a tiny road, monitored by two policemen, and which led to a 3.

Driving through Napoli again
0 m height-restriction bridge!  Yikes-we are 2.98 meters high!


So one policeman stopped traffic to direct our turnaround, then emphasized: “This *woman* will show you!”- and pointed to a clearly masculine motorcycle cop, as Jazy choked back her laughter. 


Motorcycle cop professionally flashed his official badge for us, although we would have followed Kermit Frog by then.  He zipped through several free-for-all intersections and down city roads, but patiently waited for us to squirm through and catch up to him. 


Then he bid us Ciao at the highway entrance- located just 15’ from our Spartacus Campground entrance!  That’s right- parallel to our train station road is the new A3 highway entrance ramp!  Agh!  We should have registered that, having walked by it both ways the train station every day.

Sugar in Camping Spartacus, Pompei, Italy
We blew a kiss to Motorcycle Cop and felt blessed by the escort, yahooing later as we drove the open highway.


I’d been worried we’d get a ticket because we do not have a hazard panel on Sugar!  It’s a big white square with red diagonal reflective stripes on it, so no one hits the bikes on the back.  Every other camper with bikes in Italy has one and last night I read that we’d get fined without one here.  This morning, Rosario at the campground didn’t know where we could buy one and my internet search was fruitless. We’re grateful for Sugar’s Irish tags and the kindness we’ve received in Italy- and for no fine!


We drove again on Napoli’s busy coastal highway, this time following a slow truck, a great excuse.  Driving in the morning meant less traffic.

Camping Spartacus, Pompei, Italy
  It wasn’t so scary this time.


The toll road then cost 15.70E all the way across Italy to Bari, on the eastern shore.  It took about 4 hours on nice roads- about 170 miles.  As soon as we got through the mountain pass, the air cleared to sparkling, with rolling hills of long grasses- bellisimo!


Then in Bari, there were good signs to the ferry port and we just followed the trucks.  With the help of about 6 guys along the port, we found our ferry office 3 km inside the port’s arched entrance.  They were all very chivalrous, helping us out, shaking our hands, and smiling.  Just smile and wave, Jazy, smile and wave! 


The Bari port is quite tidy for a port and spread out, so there is room for parking to go into the ticket offices, etc.

Loading confusion on the SuperFast Ferry from Bari, Italy to Patra, Greece
  Few services were open and there were no groceries or gas stations inside the gated port.  Our dinner, like lunch, was a little “creative” because of our poor planning- but we had food and won’t starve.


We checked in- no line at all at 3:30 pm for our 8 pm Superfast Ferry.  Superfast is the name of the ferry line, not relative speed.  Ticketing lady said that at 6:30 pm and not before, we were to drive into the ferry loading area. 


So we called Ned (required a credit card and 15 minutes work to make a connection), cooked a pasta dinner, and met some fellow travelers who spoke English.  Kendall and Kevin are from Australia, another camper from Great Britain who was excited about our Irish tags, and some nice backpacking guys from Pennsylvania.  It is great fun to hear where people have been, what their plans are, and travel tips.

Heading up the loading ramp onto the Camping-On-Board deck


One Security Guy came up to Sugar while we were parked waiting to load- we thought he wanted a tip.  Instead he wanted to exchange a small Italian coin for an Irish one for his collection- he’d seen Sugar’s license plate.  Lia dug out an Irish coin to trad with him, although he gave her more, probably because he was embarrassed by our confusion.  It was a nice interaction though.


At 6pm the Security guys (never did anyone check ID or passports) said, “Sure, come on!” or so- English is not so prevalent here.  So we pulled in and sat out of the way as directed.  “Camping on Board” is on an upper deck for air circulation and huge trucks were still loading on lower levels. 


After we’d waited about 20 minutes, a truck pulled behind us and blew his horn repeatedly, waving his arms like we should get out of his way.

Camping-On-Board deck- Sugar is first in line
  Finally our loading guy yelled at him to chill out and just pull around us, which truck guy did with great exasperation and arm-waving.  Afterward, I leaned out the window to thank our parking guy and he made a “pray for patience” sign.  Funny!  We’ve witnessed several yelling fits today by the expressive Greeks, which we really appreciate for their sincerity and drama.  But we do prefer the fits not be directed at us!


Finally we pulled up aboard into a little row on the Camping deck:  there’s Sugar, some nice guys from Germany, a van camper, and our new Great Britain friends (who are following the race circuit)..  A few trucks are also up here, parked at the end of a great deck.


I bought 120 minutes of internet (3E) from the bartender, and thought I’d ordered a glass of white wine.

Kevin & Kendall- Australian friends on board
  I ended up with a bottle of red wine.  Charles went to buy a Cinnamon Roll (1.80E) and bought more internet time for me.  <sigh>  All in the joys of international travel.  He persisted though and got that cinnamon roll on the next try.


Our new Australian friends joined us in the bar just as my computer battery died, so I bid Ned farewell on the IM’ing.  We toasted anniversaries and great love and then enjoyed a sail away sunset on deck with our new friends, including a couple from Toronto.  It was lovely seeing the twinkling lights of Italy’s boot on the blue water and horizon.  Ciao Italy!


This ship is Greek - we’re learning Greek words, although not nearly fast enough.

Uh, I don't think so, Jazy!
  A ship electrician, nice guy George, stopped by to chat- he works this run 6 days a week  Some people work very hard, long hours.  Lia shared some of her chocolate with him and we briefly showed him Sugar.  He returned later with some ferry info for our travels, Greece travel advice, and three huge Swiss Lindt chocolate bars for the kids!  That was so very generous of him!


Why would someone else’s generosity make me feel bad?  Maybe because while he’s being so nice, I’m worrying about inviting a stranger into the camper and so we stand outside to talk.  That’s prudent, but sometimes I seem to lack the generosity that flows in others’ spirits. 


Lia wrote a simple thank-you note on the back of a Texas postcard that we brought.

Ciao Italy!
  I wish we had some Texas gifts to share with the special people we meet on our travels.  I wish we’d been prepared with enough food to share dinner with our new friends.  Hindsight…


This SuperFast ferry is quite nice and refined inside.  It is far less crowded than our Barcelona to Rome ferry with the 800 college kids on it!  All the staff appears to be Greek.  The food served in the cafeteria looked very good too.


We have electricity on board- the crew immediately plugged Sugar in, using their cords, as soon as we came aboard.  That runs the fridge as the propane is cut off (but again, as in Barcelona, no one checked).  The deck has little outside balconies and is open-air halfway back, so explosions are unlikely.

Camping-on-Board at night


There are also clean bathrooms and showers for each of the sexes just around the corner.  We have special paper keys for the doorway in the cafeteria, so that only campers-on-board can access this special deck. It is very nice to have everything we need. 


We secured Sugar’s wheels for safety a few of the borrowed great rubber chocks that they have laying around to.  There is enough of a rocking motion for peaceful slumber, but not the jerking motion from the Chunnel shuttle crossing.  Even the kids agree that the convenience of staying in Sugar is really awesome!
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5.20.09 Italy to Greece & Happy 20th Anniversary!


Twenty years ago, I was blessed to marry the most handsome, kind, loving person in the entire world.  Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!  I love you!  (p.s.  I guess Will was wrong.  J) 


And just because I am just so darned proud of him, I'm going to share this recent video of him:


Sorry Girls, he's taken!



We are leaving today our base at Spartacus Campground in Pompei (18E/night for 4 of us) and headed toward Bari, on the eastern coast of Italy. 


Our 8pm ferry to Patras, Greece (near Athens) is “Camping On Board” so we’ll let you know what that’s like.  It should be easier than having to pack a bag for a cabin. 


We should arrive in Patras at 12:30 pm, but think our clocks get moved ahead 2 hours, maybe one- need to check.  I think it is about an hour and a half then to our Athens campground.


We’re excited! 


Until Greece!


Our police motorcycle escort to th…
Our police motorcycle escort to t…
Driving through Napoli again
Driving through Napoli again
Sugar in Camping Spartacus, Pompei…
Sugar in Camping Spartacus, Pompe…
Camping Spartacus, Pompei, Italy
Camping Spartacus, Pompei, Italy
Loading confusion on the SuperFast…
Loading confusion on the SuperFas…
Heading up the loading ramp onto t…
Heading up the loading ramp onto …
Camping-On-Board deck- Sugar is fi…
Camping-On-Board deck- Sugar is f…
Kevin & Kendall- Australian friend…
Kevin & Kendall- Australian frien…
Uh, I dont think so, Jazy!
Uh, I don't think so, Jazy!
Ciao Italy!
Ciao Italy!
Camping-on-Board at night
Camping-on-Board at night
photo by: alexandra_h