I suppose the wonder of travel and the fun of it begins when your expectations don’t quite meet the reality. And navigating through that actuality & confusion is the delight, even though it may not seem like it at the time.
A 2 ½ hour train ride from Rome dumped us (fellow traveller, Joanne, and me) in the Bari train station. And expectation #1: the train station would be near the port. How big could Bari be? Big enough to take a particular bus to the port: specifically the 22 “slash” bus. Several people at the bus stop told us this using a hand gesture slicing through the air. I say several people because we just didn’t get it the first couple of times. And we really didn’t get it until we saw the bus number on the bus…22/. Yea!
The 22/ bus took us to the other side of town…seaside. Expectation #2: the port would look like a port with boats and ferries and people lining up boarding them, something like Civitaveccia when I went to Sardegna. We hadn’t bought our ferry tickets to Dubrovnik yet, and the only thing we knew was that there were overnight ferries. But, no, Bari’s port looked more like a loading dock with no real passengers in sight.
Dropped at the ferry station, it was pretty deserted. One lone attendant told us to come back at 5:00. Feeling hungry and not wanting to wait 5 hours in an empty waiting room, we waited for the “22/” bus to take us back into the heart of Bari for a bite to eat.
We didn’t reach the heart of Bari, but found a very cool restaurant on a side street and had a lovely sandwich and a glass of wine and just relaxed, thinking of the contrast in chaos from Rome to Bari.
Walking back to the port was when we stumbled upon Bari the “real” city! Loads of restaurants, shops, little cafes, people, scooters! Hey, where had we been?
Back at the ferry station, there was more life! Not much, but definitely more than before. In fact, there were guys behind a glass enclosure looking like they could sell ferry tickets. I took the lead this time and approached them and, speaking slowly, told them that we wanted to buy a ticket to Dubrovnik. Reply: “Infopoint.” Huh? He must have misunderstood me. I didn’t need information (little did I know); I needed a ticket. Speaking even more slowly and using fewer words, I again expressed my interest in purchasing a ticket. Reply #2: “Infopoint.” I wasn’t alone in my confusion. Joanne didn’t get it either. Alright, I spoke even slower, threw in some fractured Italian and a little French (why not?), and added hand gestures. Reply #3, with anger, frustration, and a gesture of his own: “Madam, I tell you once, I tell you twice…Infopoint!”
Infopoint happened to be two people standing behind a little table and a hand-written sign that said “Infopoint.” Right….
“We need a ticket to Dubrovnik!” A little desperate now because who knew if we were missing a ferry or something!
“Take the white bus”. Said deadpan serious as if it were so obvious. White bus? What white bus? Nobody had mentioned a white bus!
They pointed to a shuttle bus waiting outside. We hadn’t noticed it when we had come in. Again, desperation set in and I told Joanne, the triathlete, to run and catch the bus. Who knew where it was going, but our entry into Dubrovnik seemed to depend on it!
Breathless and taking our place on the shuttle, we soon discovered that the “white bus” was taking us about 3 kms down the road to a wide open area where ferry companies were selling tickets to Greece, Croatia, and Albania. Ahhhh….
No need to ask why one needs to go a mile and ½ down the road to buy a ticket all to come back to the station to go through security and board the ferry. Just be happy that we found our “white” bus and tickets to Croatia!