I had rushed through Italy from Malta via Rome, San Marino and Trieste to Ljubljana in two days because I was anxious to see what was going on in the Balkans and now I was rushing through Italy again from Dubrovnik via Bari and Rome to Madrid in two days because I needed to get home to take care of my ankle.
It's a pity to rush through Italy like that, there is so much to see and enjoy in that country!
The overnight ferry from Dubrovnik arrived in Bari at eight in the morning leaving me a full day to visit the old city before taking the overnight train to Rome at 11:45 pm.
This is the Croatian Jarodlinija ferry that brought me here from Dubrovnik. This picture and the previous one were taken with a disposable camera I bought in Dubrovnik after I found out that my fine Olympus 115 Zoom was only good for the scrap pile.
I was surprised with the quality of some of the pictures I took with that cheap camera. Below on the left, is a view of the 11th century Basilica di Santo Nicola and on the right, one of the narrow streets of the old city that goes back to medieval times.
Bari is a very old city indeed, its origins go back to the bronze age. After being in the Greek sphere of influence, it became an important port for for the Romans as early as 180 B.C. In 885, it became the seat of the Byzantine governor of Apulia who had taken it from the Muslim Saracens. Its capture for the Normans, by Robert Guiscard after a three year siege in 1071, marked a turning point in the relations between Roman and Orthodox Christians. Peter the Hermit preached the First Crusade there in 1096 and it became a port of embarkation for the crusades. This fortress was built by the Normans around 1100 and improved a century later by the Swabian Emperor Frederick II.
Below of the left, another view of the Norman Fort and on the right, a well lived-in courtyard of today's old Bari.
Arriving in Rome at 7:30 am, I had time to take the Metro to the Coliseum to see again for myself how it compared with the Roman amphitheatre I had seen in El Jem in Tunisia. I then took the 2:30 pm plane to Madrid and spent the evening drinking white wine, eating tapas and chatting with Madrileños in one of the friendly tabernas near Plaza Sol.
I got to the airport early the next morning but when I tried to check in, I was told that Iberia's 14:55 direct flight to Montreal, for which I had a confirmed reservation , had been over booked and that there would be no seats available on that flight before 12 days. They offered to put me on a waiting list but would not endorse my ticket to another airline because I had a non-refundable, non-endorsable ticket. They could have re-routed me on their Boston flight which was not full but refused to do so even when I offered to do Boston - Montreal by bus at my expense. Real bastards! In the end, the Boston flight left with empty seats and I had to buy a one way passage to Montreal from another airline. I doubt very much that I'll ever fly Iberia again...
In French we have a saying, "Jamais deux sans trois" (never two but three). I had just had my three strokes of bad luck, ankle, camera and Iberia so my luck was due to change for the better which it did for I was able to get a one way ticket to Montreal for only 400 $ via London with British Airways! I arrived in Montreal at 9:00 the next morning confident that Lady Luck would be with me as usual on my next trip.
All in all, I had enjoyed a fantastic 5 month trip, I had seen a lot of new places and had learned a lot of things but more importantly I had met a lot of wonderful people!