And back onto the roundabout

Trip Start Apr 24, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Italy  , Puglia,
Monday, June 23, 2008

Finally rediscovering our freedom feet, felt fantastic, driving off into the mountains of the national parks. Was like escaping from 'civilization' back into the safety of the wilds. I was kicking myself wondering why I hadn't thought of that, why had we subjected ourselves to a whole week in a campsite!? I suppose it all happens for a reason though. Had some beautiful walks in woodlands and through beautiful meadows full of so many different types of wildflowers. Took a walk up the mountain and got treated to a spectacular view, we could see for miles, rolling mountains, harsh jagged peaks, roads twisting up them and slicing thru them, rashes of houses and big clustered towns, we could even see the sea. Saw some of the cuirassed pine trees - strange gnarly bark, growing right off the ridge of the mountain, defying the laws of physics. They apparently only left growing here in the Pollino national park and in one other country (can't remember which). We parked near a refuge (a place you could stay the night, that had a little bar and restaurant) the owner was quite friendly when there were no other Italians there. (we figured it'd be bad for his image to be seen being friendly to English tourists) We went for some late lunch there after a walk, we were the only ones in there, he was very accommodating, made us the most delicious pasta dishes but then he wanted to talk, would'nt let us leave. It was really hard work though as he didn't speak English and I only had a phrasebook that was meant for Italians to speak English, it turned my head inside out trying to look up the things I wanted to say. We got by with a lot of patience and the help of pen and paper for pictures. He lives there year round, but is only really busy in august, lonely life!(the whole thing reminded Lena of psycho, so she refers to him as Norman Bates - it was a little scary being passively held captive up in the restaurant). We woke up to find ourselves surrounded by wild horses, it was great lying in bed watching them, they were in such good condition - better than most of the horses in captivity we've seen!
We saw a few eagles one of which showed us a gorgeous meadow park up. Which was perfect except for the amount of flies. There were apparently wolves, snakes, wild cats, boars and ginormous mosquito's. The weather is definitely hotting up. I made the most of the space to do a few repairs..hopefully no more leaks now. We accidentally fell out of the park and into farmland but it was still beautiful.
Woke up really early, it was so hot, I walked Scruff and came back absolutely melting with heat stroke and everything, it was only 7 o'clock. That was a hard day, the only way we were cool was driving, we had to go shopping for supplies but couldn't leave mr in the van. We eventually found a lovely beach park up where we could see the van and everything (think we bit cautious still bout leaving the van to go swimming) the water was great cooling and there was a little sea breeze. Saw a big red just off full moon rising over the sea for solstice night..magical.
We went into Lecce - a city with amazing architecture, lots of gargoyle type things. We got there early evening and had a guy tell us he'd keep an eye on the van - he'd shown us a parking space in the carpark and hovered around waiting for a tip so we gave him a €. The only trouble was it was in a market so we had to move by 7 am. We went and had a pizza, scruff didn't like it, was far too busy for him, bit too busy for us too but we still had a little stroll and a delicious icecream from a gelateria. We got up at bout 6 and moved the van, took advantage of being up early to have a walk around. It was so quiet. We took pictures of the sights without hundreds of other bodies in the way J Such a different place to the night before. A night in another hilltop fort town - Ostuni. Where the Italian's were all out watching the football semi final on a big screen in the square, there was a throne there too we noticed in the morning, no idea who had sat on it. Saw cute little 'trulli' houses dotted about all over the place, found an old ramshackle one to have a look at which meant I had to gently work my way thru a field of brambles (tricky business in a pair of shorts) on our way to the ferry at Bari.

We now in Greece and this is the first time found net since Tuscany except on the boat. Not had chance to download all the pics, having trouble accessing lena's photo's on my computer which is why there no photos of me but hey i'm sure you all remember what i look like anyway ;)  hope to get on net again soon and will bring everything up to date. Its so hot here right now though it's hard to do anything! 30degrees even at night!! It's gotta be better than the rain though eh ;) Hope you all doing well and having lots of luck!! Oh and if anyone has any handy tips on the best way to drive from here back up towards croatia would be much appreciated! Hugs xx
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