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Adventures of a short vet

Escape from Bari

ITALY | Tuesday, 26 April 2011 | Views [666]

On our second last day in Bari the three of us caught the train to Castellana, where we toured the “Grotte de Castellana": one of the most famous cave systems in Italy with a 3km walk to the “White Cave”, the whitest limestone cave in the world (it was pretty white). The “Grave” (entrance chasm) is 60m deep, 50m wide and 100m long – so it’s pretty big. Despite the ticket lady confirming we were English, she failed to tell us the English tour was at 4pm and we ended up following an Italian tour group. We didn’t want to stay too late so just ended up pootling around at the back, trying to ignore the urge to punch the grumpy little woman leading the tour group behind us who kept trying to hurry us along – you can only go as fast as the 30 people in front of you! Once again the Italian organization was terrible, with three tour groups almost on top of each other (why not wait ten minutes before setting out?) and the guides all looked like they’d been sucking lemons. Really made me miss our Kiwi and Aussie guides who are so friendly and enjoy their jobs, even if they’re just pretending to! Despite the grumpy guides and scores of people the caves truly were amazing and much bigger than anything I’ve ever seen. Definitely worth the visit.

We picked up pizza from our “local” pizzeria where we were now well known and retired to the hostel where we drank our “Aqua” – codename for the limoncello we were talked into buying by a very clever saleswoman in Castellana who gave us a little taste demonstration. We had to hide it as the hostel was also, surprise surprise, “no alcohol allowed”, despite being the one hostel where you need a drink or two to make the stay more bearable!

With the overnight ferry only leaving at 9pm Bec and I had a whole day to kill, so decided to spend it shopping for a new jacket for me, and searching for an internet shop to print out flight tickets for the girls. I managed to find a pretty nice “faux leather” (I call it “fleather”) jacket and we spent the rest of the day wandering around, eating gelato and trying to stay out of the rain. We picked up a German girl, Lara, at the hostel who was also traveling to Croatia, and met an American guy called Will at the check-in terminal where we had a beer while waiting for it to open (only after 6pm). So we had a fun crew for the overnight trip to Dubrovnic. After checking in we then had to wait until boarding time at 9pm, so went back to our local pizzeria for dinner. We boarded the ferry (which seemed massive to me but is apparently quite small in ferry standards according to Lara), dumped our stuff in the airline seat area, and joined Will for a beer on the deck bar. The airline seats turned out not to be as comfortable as I thought as, despite having a row each, the armrests didn’t raise so you were forced to sleep in one chair. Luckily I had my sleeping bag and can sleep in just about any position, so I got about 5 hours sleep, unlike Bec who was up most of the night and said she was very envious of me when she saw me sleeping!

Tags: bari, ferry, grotte de castellana, limestone caves, limoncello

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