January 10

Woke up bright and early this morning after a warm night.  When I popped my head outside the tent to take a look around there was already a woman picking cabbages in the field opposite, so I hid underneath a tree and watched her as I ate my pineapple.  Ryan was ready to go in a half hour, so we jumped on the bikes and within a few hours we’d rolled through Barletta and Trani.  Both were very southern Italian towns, with traffic mainly consisting of beeping and hand signs out the windows, which I enjoyed immensely.  I think one teenager may have called me a very rude word when I told him I couldn’t speak Italian, but I don’t think his father loves him, so it’s all okay. 

Cruising through Bisceglie, Ryan shouted to show me that there was a 3 store open, which was great, as my phone has not been working since we arrived in Italy.  Obviously, the right time to solve this problem would have been twelve days ago, but better late than never eh.  As I settled in for what turned out to the long haul, Ryan went off to get a few slices of pizza and a sit in the sun.  Emerging victorious an hour later with my now internet-enabled phone, we discussed some of the dogs about town, then got back on the bikes and finished off the ride to Bari. 

Thankfully, as opposed to Ancona, I had taken a good look at the map, and figured out a very quiet way to enter Bari.  It took us along some quiet back roads through the industrial zone and the airport, but we arrived at the port about 1pm to a beautiful, warm city.  I found a great looking hostel, Olive Tree, and we cycled off to find it.  Now Bari is probably the city I’ve liked best in Italy so far.  It’s clean, and the Murat district is beautiful – grid aligned and full of lovely old buildings – and the old city is all higgledy piggledy like old cities should be.  The hostel, in typical Italian fashion, was closed from 1230 until 5, so we took ourselves off to a nearby park to eat ice cream and use the internet until it opened.  At 5, on the dot, we rang the buzzer, got ourselves into the hostel, locked our bikes, dumped our bags and finally took a shower.  I think I was probably under the water for at least ten minutes before I realised I needed to start thinking about washing my hair.  You really forget how truly luxurious it is to have hot water piped to you so that you can have a hot shower whenever you feel like it.  Stop and just think about that right now.  The modern world is brilliant. 

Well, ablutions complete, we heaved ourselves off the mattresses and wandered down to the old town for some pizza, pausing frequently to wonder what the explosions were all about.  None of the locals seemed to pay any attention, so we ignored them, in typical British fashion, and pretended to feel it was totally normal there were very loud explosions that did not result in fireworks less than 50 metres away.  Italy.  An hour of pizza, beer and people watching later, we were both knackered and are now about to pass out.

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