Day 117 & 118 - Trains and a ferry
7 - 8 April 2022
7 April 2022
Trains all day. I like trains. Trains with bikes are a little tougher. Only some trains take bikes. Only some of the trans that take bikes have spaces for bikes. Only some of the trains that take bikes don’t have steps to get on and off. Complicated.
Rome Termini does not allow bikes so we ride to another station. We need to get to Tivoli to get our train to Pescara. From Pescara, we change and then on to Bari. First up, Tivoli.
It is an easy 10 km ride to Prenestina station. We have to go under the platforms which means unloading the bikes. We are there nice and early. I always get a bit nervous that we won’t be allowed on the trains with the bikes. Train arrives. No designated carriage. We pile into the rear with some difficulty. Tivoli bound.
“It's funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they'll do practically anything you want them to.” ― J.D. Salinger
We have a few hours to kill before the Pescara train. Grab some food at a local cafe. The special today is gnocchi with sausage. Tasty. No wine today. Back to Tivoli and there is a designated bike carriage. Much more comfortable but steps to lug the bikes up.
We read our books and watch the landscape roll past. There are mountains still capped with snow even though we are well into spring. I wonder if there is snow on them all year. The landscape is familiar. We have driven through here. Dragoni and up into these very mountains.
“How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!” ― John Muir
Pescara and a quick change to Bari. Our last train in Italy. Another designated bike carriage and another set of stairs to climb on and we are away. This time it is the Puglia coast. Blue ocean. We read and the sun sets. We set out at 9.00 am and arrive in Bari at 9.00 pm.
We ride into the city and it has a similar feel to Zaragoza. Bari is beautiful. It is Thursday night and everything is lit up and people move about and laugh. We ride into the old town and find our place. Right near a beautiful old cathedral made from that white Puglia stone.
Even though it is late, we head out. Like Zaragoza, it is a city you want to explore. Grab some pizza and hit go to bed. Our host is a friendly guy. Our bikes are locked up with his neighbor. We order some food and have a wine.
Our last night in Italy.
8 April 2022
Breakfast is provided and we are off. Ride to the ferry terminal and try and get some tickets to Albania. Find the ticket office. Grab a cabin. Shell requests a window and a spa. No luck with the spa. Tickets to Albania are sorted. Boarding is not until 8.00 pm this evening.
We ride around exploring. It is great to be on the bikes. It is warm and sunny. Grab a coffee and think about lunch. Find a cheap place and head off. It is in a blocked street and tables are out. Great for lunch. We jump off and walk the bikes in. We find the place and then… I have a fall.
It shocked me. I started walking backward and turned the bike. Next thing I was falling down. The bike shifted and I was falling with it. As I was falling I thought, how is this happening? I didn’t trip. I didn’t lose my footing. One minute I am standing, the next I am fading into the ground. The bike landed. I landed on the bike. Shell asked if I was ok. I was just embarrassed.
For the next few minutes, I was a little stunned. I don’t pretend to be some sort of acrobat. I am not spiderman. But I am well balanced. I don’t trip. I don’t drop things. I don’t fall over. Was this an old man moment? Was this a fall? I was rattled.
“I had nothing to offer anybody, except my own confusion” ― Jack Kerouac
Lunch was great. We had a few beers and some pasta. With hours to kill we headed to a park to read in the sun. It had a good feel. Lots of young people, some music. It felt a little shady but it was fine.
I am on a bench with the bikes. Across from me, Shell is reading on some steps. To make a triangle there is other guy sitting on another bench. He says hello. I say hello back. Then a guy walks up to him. They chat. Then he walks past us, and says hello to both. He is shady. I don’t like his look. I get a little edgy. Put my book down. He walks off around the corner. A minute later another guy comes walking past. Walking real slow. Shocking shuffle. He is looking from me to Shell. He walks past the guy on the bench, and they exchange a glance. A coincidence? Paranoid.
There was a time in India when a similar thing happened. I few guys made conversation with us at a fort in Jaipur. They followed us for a while. Bumped into some friends. They all followed us. I lost track of them. We got to a busy square garden and I saw them all. Split up, coming from each end of the garden. It felt like a trap. Coincidence? Paranoia? We made a beeline out of there.
So we have the triangle. Me, Shell and other guy on the bench. We now have the slow walker facing us on another bench not far away. Suddenly Shady is back. He walks straight up to me and asks me where I am from. I look at him. Look at the other guy. He is looking at me. I look at Slow Walker. He is looking at me. I look at Shady and say nothing. He asks me again where I am from. I ignore him, again. Take a look at Slow Walker and Other Guy. They are definitely watching. I just stare back at Shady. I am edgy.
He walks off. I am watching all three. They are now watching Shady. He walks to Shell. Says hello. Shell says hello. Shady asks her where are you from. Shell responds. Shell returns the question. FUCK! Don’t talk to him. She looks at me. Reads my look. Gets up, comes to her bike, and jumps on. I look at Shady, other guy, and Slow Walker trying to get a read. Suddenly other guy has two mates ride in. Straight to me. Nice bike. I tell him to fuck off. Get on my bike and we ride off. I don’t look back. Edgy. Tense. Maybe a coincidence.
I would not back myself against those numbers. Especially after a recent fall.
“What gives value to travel is fear. It is the fact that, at a certain moment, when we are so far from our own country … we are seized by a vague fear” - Albert Calmus
We find the water. Sit down and read. Head for the ferry terminal and read some more. They open the gates at Customs and we head through. He is taking a long look at our entry stamp. Our visas are well over. I remain cool. I probably look like I have a kilo smack strapped under my shirt, but I feel like playing it cool.
We get our stamps and jump on the ferry. Bikes secured. Find our room. Have a shower and go and explore the ferry.
Arrivederci, Italy. You have been awesome fun.
“Range after range of mountains.
Year after year after year.
I am still in love.”
― Gary Snyder