Magic bari go round

Trip Start Apr 24, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wow!!! Round and round on the magic Bari merry go roundabout! We made it to the port at Patra in Greece no problem, got our ticket without a hitch then uh oh....started the van to drive onto the boat and the battery light wouldn't go off. I kept an eye on the temperature....not going up, phew! Got called aside and a customs guy checked us over, looking for big things, people we think. Starting the engine again, still the light wouldn't go out. A few battery type things have been happening recently so I figured if I could just tighten the fan belt it might sort it out. No such luck, I couldn't get one of the bolts to budge at all, didn't have the right tool. Note to self, next time bring less junk and more tools!! I knew I had a socket attachment that'd do it at home.
Feeling very frustrated I had to admit defeat and give up, the mechanics on the boat weren't at all friendly so didn't want to trouble them for a hand. Oh, this was during the crossing, just before we landed. You can camp on board on some of the ferries over here which is great fun - sitting in the van watching the scenery go by, travelling without driving, eating your dinner at a shifting seafront location, without even leaving homeJ
Anyway we came off the ferry still with the wretched light on, pulled by customs again, and still, u guessed it, with the light! Made a decision to phone the insurance breakdown, what are we paying them for after all?! In the hopes that they'd have the right spanner to loosen the nut and tighten the belt. A tow truck ride and 3 nights in a hotel with a posh hire car later, we go to collect the van. They'd replaced the alternator, the fan belt and another pulley wheel that had a big chunk out of it n didn't look healthy at all.
It was fun at first the novelty of driving a fancy little car and staying in a nice hotel with air conditioning, a shower and tv, Scruff even had a bed all of his own! It soon wore off tho, we were in amongst olive and grape farms on the outskirts of bari. We did our best not to worry, it was very hard as we weren't exactly sure what was happening, lots of details got lost or confused during translation. We went out on daytrips around the area to distract ourselves, one of the days we were looking for a place to eat all afternoon for miles, lost count of how many towns we looked in, eventually at about 9 o'clock, when we were ready to drop from the hunger, we found a pizza resturante that had just opened. It baffled us, everyone goes on about how wonderful the food is here, how did they ever find anywhere to taste it!??
We celebrated Lena's birthday in style by waking up in a lovely hotel, reclaiming the van and parking up at a lovely old castle ruin place on the sea, with little bays and boats moored up, called san Giovanni. The waves were so rough and the wind so strong, we enjoyed watching the locals rescuing all the smallest boats by hauling them onto land with a little help from a 4wd. We'd decided not to go for the ferry at the last minute as a really strong wind had whipped up and the waves were so high at Bari they were coming up over the wall and onto the van!!
There was an underlying worry, on the way there the battery light had shone it's little light for a while, just long enough to let us know there was still a problem. The next day we figured to drive back in the direction of Bari. A few hairy, worried occurrences later we drove back to the garage with the battery light on. Fortunately it stayed on long enough for the guy to see it. We had to wait until after siesta for the mechanic to get there. Lots of communication difficulties and four hours of tinkering under the bonnet and scratching of heads later it seemed the electrical problem was now actually really fixed (I wonder did we even really need a new alternator) but he'd discovered another "grande problema" the right hand front wheel appeared to have a lot of 'wobble', it didn't look good, even to me. Thanks to some translation help from Debora (thanx darlin!) we understood that he'd done a temporary fix job that would work for maybe 2 or 3 days but we must go to a garage if we heard a strange noise coming from the wheel.
We didn't have to wait long to hear it. The next morning we'd figured not to go to Bari again, I'd got butterflies at the thought of it and reckoned we might be safer driving up to Ancona and getting a ferry to Split from there, just to give time for the wheel thing to see what we would see. About 50k or so up the road, "squeeeeeeeek.....squeeeeeeeeek" Just had to be the wheel. So much for our 2 or 3 days! Luckily it happened right by a little town called zapponeta that had a garage and guys that (hopefully) could fix it. It was amazing the way they dropped what they were doing and came to have a look straight away. It was just before siesta so we had to wait til 4. By 8 o'clock we were back on the road!! Absolutely delighted. It just goes to show everything happens for a reason, if they'd fixed the electrical problem properly the first time they'd never have discovered the wheel problem and we'd have been dangerously unaware.
We carried on up toward the Gargano national park, a lovely forest with some humongously tall trees, we met a couple of friends up there. Honey a lovely golden lab cross dog came back from a walk with Scruff and Lena and just didn't want to leave. Later when we were closing up the van for the night Lena spotted a piglet, a baby wild boar!! It went under the van. There was a mad panic to shut the door, then worries for honey's safety before the revelation that piglet was in fact a little 6monthish old bitch. They were both so adorable, still there in the morning, once again a harsh goodbye. They were both in so much better condition than poor patch was though, I think there's more food from tourists round here. Then a mad dash back down south to Bari, (hopefully for the last time!!) to catch a ferry to Dubrovnik.
Here we are safe and sound in a very posh and rather expensive campsite in Dubrovnik. Free camping here is forbidden and punishable by law apparently and as we don't know what punishment that may be we'd better stay in campsites. The crossing was smooth enough, had a tiny little cabin with four bunks in, bit like a prison cell, camping on board jardrolinja ferries is forbidden. Luckily they allowed dogs into cabins which was a huge relief, turned out we could have slept out on the deck, there were people out there with sleeping bags.
Arrived in Dubrovnik really early and tired, while looking for a bank machine (Croatia's currency is the Kuna which we didn't have any of) and a shady place to park for a little nap. A couple of helpful old men told us where bank and campsite were, it was amazing. They just approached us and offered the help, such a nice welcome to a new country.
All recovered on Mon we took a long walk into the old city, quite an amazing place the walls so thick and marble floors polished by years of feet. Was absolutely minging with tourists so we didn't stay too long or explore the whole place, got a drink of water from the famous onofrio fountain, cooled off in an irish bar and went to see a photo exhibition by various war and conflict photographers. It was so surreal the contrast with the tourist capitalist mayhem outside and the disturbing eye opening images of recent history, really shook me up and made me cry. The things humans do to each other, for what, principles, land, money, power? I don't know, It just upsets me so much, to hear an American outside talking excitedly to her friend about 'a little jewellery shop that's just so cheap she could have died', after having just witnessed hundreds of scenes of death, murder, torture, destitution and despair.
It really highlighted the things we'd been considering before we came over, about the fact that this whole region has been so war torn so recently and is it too soon and too insensitive to those whose lives have been lost or turned upside down, to ignorantly traipse through with rose tinted glasses commenting on "how unspoilt" a place it is, it's blatantly clear to us from just a couple of days here in Dubrovnik that it is far from unspoilt by the scars of war and the never ending troupes of tourists marching through the streets. That said, it is lovely here, I can see why so many people would want to come and the income generated seems to be truly welcomed. I just wish we could all tread a little more softly and not leave such a heavy trail.
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