We arrived back in Annapolis just over a week ago after leaving Gyatso berthed in Preveza, Greece. We flew back to the states from Rome, so our journey home involved an overnight ferry ride to Italy, a brief stay in Bari and the fast train to Rome — a mini travel adventure in itself.
We stayed a night at a hotel near the historic district in Bari and spent two days wandering the narrow alleyways, visiting the impressive cathedrals and getting our fill of the Puglia region’s culinary treats, including olives, seafood and pasta. Their gelato wasn’t too bad either! It was a nice way to break-up the long trip home.
Traveling by ferry brought back fond memories of family vacations on Beaver Island, Michigan when I was a kid. The trip across the lake on the Beaver Islander or South Shore was always filled with excitement and anticipation for a summer break surrounded by crystal clear water and long stretches of sandy and rocky beaches.
The Superfast II ferry crosses the Adriatic, and at 24 knots, travels much faster than we do on Gyatso. We booked a sleeping cabin with two pullman berths, departing at midnight from Igoumenitsa, Greece and arriving at 10:30 a.m. the next morning. Most of the passengers are truck drivers shuttling goods between the two ports, along with a few backpackers, cyclists and other tourists.
Arriving on the ferry in Bari was reminiscent of those childhood trips to the island. Unlike other parts of Italy I’ve visited, the landscape is flat and beaches stretch along the shore to the north and south of the city and harbor. Outside the commercial harbor, the water is clear and inviting with people swimming and fishing from the shore.
Rather than marking the beginning of a vacation, this ferry trip was more like the one back to the mainland at the end. It marked the end of our seasonal cruise on Gyatso. I had the same feeling that comes when I’m leaving the island. Somehow, the familiar feeling made the thought of returning to our land-based life seem more bearable because I know it won’t be long before we return to the boat again or ride a ferry again: We’re planning to visit family on Beaver Island in July.
Our spring cruise marks a shift for us to a seasonal cruising schedule. Like most European cruisers, we plan to avoid the heat, crowds and higher prices in the Med during July and August. The key is finding a secure place to leave the boat. Gyatso is now berthed in the water at Cleopatra Marina awaiting our return. We hope to find a month or so beginning in late August to move the boat further west, to Italy.