As happy as Larry..in Bari!!!
Trip Start May 05, 2012
8Trip End May 12, 2012
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Where I stayed
On board the MSC Magnifica
The ship continued to sail in a southerly direction throughout the night at about 13 miles from the shore covering the 319 nautical miles to the main city of Puglia, Bari.
The ship sailed past the promontory of Gargano also known as the 'spur' of the boot of Italy. (If you look at the map of Italy, it looks more like a bunion is starting to grow on the toe of the country as well!!) At this point, the MSC Magnifica was only 3.5 miles from shore. Shortly before 9:30am, the ship entered the harbour and within ½ hour the first of the passengers were disembarking.
The temperature was a barmy 21°C (74F) when we walked down the gangway
A shuttle bus was waiting to take us to the town centre. Bari is a city of 2 halves. The modern part has only been developed since the 19th century and the old part of town that dates back to medieval and renaissance periods. The bus took us along the Lungomare coastal road, past the marina to a street that splits the old from the new.
We crossed over and headed through an archway that I’m guessing is part of the city wall in to a narrow labyrinth of alleyways and streets. After a brief 10-minute walk the road widened and there, across the street was Castello Svevo. This Castle dates back to the 12th century and was built by someone called Norman. Correction. It was built by THE Normans!!! Legend say that St Francis of Assisi on his way to the Holy land for the 5th crusade (1217-1221) was sheltered by Frederick II who tried to tempt the saint by shutting him in a tower with a beautiful girl. Now I’ve since tried to Google what the outcome of this was but there doesn’t seem to be any record. This must be the oldest cliffhanger of any saga
Whilst loitering outside the walls of this castle we spotted il Trenino della Felicita. This is a mini train that drives around the city. People were getting off this train outside the castle. We saw the train taking on passengers just outside the dock gate. It must be offering a hop on-hop off service.
A moped came in to view. The driver was steering with 1 hand whilst holding a leash in the other with a dog running along side. The scooter came to a halt, the dog looked at its owner as if to say; ‘When I indicated to go for a walk, I meant for the both of us!!!’
This was getting to be quite the place to watch the world go by. An MSC tour passed us walking in the direction of the castle ramparts. I bet they paid more than €6 euro for the shuttle bus and €3 for entrance in to Norman’s castle!!
A unique car caught Roisin’s eye. It was a smart car but its colour scheme was jungle camouflage
Our next stop through the old town brought us to Bari’s Cathedral of San Sabino. This should be another masterful example of 11th century architecture. Although it was destroyed at some point by Norman and his mates then rebuilt in the 13th century before being modified in the 17th century to a baroque style that now stood in front of us. The high bell tower commands the skyline of Bari and can be a good landmark if one becomes lost in the maze that is the old town.
We made our way back to the Lungomare. Much of the buildings that make up the entrance to the old town from the Lungomare are crumbling and in dire need of a face lift. The city was preparing for the festivities that is the feast of San Nicola. A giant white trestle made in the shape of a palace façade marked the entrance to these narrow cobbled streets. On closer inspection, this mega construction consisted of 1000’s of light bulbs. I’m sure it becomes a magnificent site when the lights go down over Bari. If I was in charge I’d probably leave these up after the feast, it would take everyone’s mind off the painting that someone needs to start!
It was time for lunch and a plate of pasta was calling that had our names on it. We were back on board by 1pm. Most of the tours weren’t due back for another hour or so, and as the restaurant, immediately to our right on entering the ship looked empty(ish) and seemed to be shouting louder than the pasta station on deck 14. The restaurant it is then. All good intentions of a bowl of pasta disappeared as the menu was thrust in to our hands!!
Mmmm!! Lamb Madras…and there was pasta on the menu as well. Why can’t I have both? My brain didn’t have an answer!! Roisin’s brain was well ahead of mine as she ordered the cream of mushroom soup, pasta of the day AND a crème caramel!
One item on the menu that caught my eye was ‘Stewed Smooth Hound with tomato and crushed black olives’. I like black olives crushed or otherwise but I prefer mine completely houndless!!
The afternoon was spent relaxing, watching the coast line of Italy pass by at approx 5 miles out. The ship then turned South East and continued on to its next destination
It doesn’t seem that long ago since I was talking about lunch (3lines ago to be exact.) but here we are already for dinner.
It was an Italian evening. The Dutch family joined us once again and were much more in a talkative mood. We now learned that he is a Feyenood fan and her maiden name is Kuyt. You can probably guess Andreas and I have, at last, found a common ground!!!
The show this evening was called the Music Box and was a usual array of singers, dancers and acrobats. On leaving the theatre we heard a crescendo on tiny voices get ever nearer. As they came in to view marching 2 by 2, it was either snow whites dwarves and their extended families had reformed or the tiny tots club was running late. It turned out to be the latter!! They were chanting the same phrase over and over. The eldest couldn’t have been much older than 4. Lo and behold, at the front of the protest (for that is what it sounded like – all they needed were placards!!) was Sergio. He must have done something rotten to be landed with this ‘gig’. The look in his eyes said it all. He looked a trapped soul in a living nightmare
Roisin tends to proof read and check for grammar and readability, spellings etc for these blogs. I asked her if this entry read OK. She replied that it sounds like we have had a packed day considering we did bugger-all. I’m wondering if the chief correspondent for ‘the Times’ has the same problem when he asks the editor a similar question:
‘You seem to have covered a lot considering there is bugger all to report on!!’