Back in the swing of things!
I left Prague early- 7.55 was the departure time.
I arrived in Bari around 9.30 and took the shuttle bus. According to my hostel there are 3 ways to get into the city center. By train, by shuttle bus, or by public bus. It ranges from 5, 4, and 1.50 euros. The train is the fastest with the public bus being the slowest.
I opted for the shuttle bus and made it to the central station in about 30 minutes. My hostel was Olive Tree and was decently close to the station.
They offered breakfast and the staff was very friendly. I was able to check in early to drop off my bag and relax before heading out.
I’ve heard that there wasn’t much to see in Bari, but it was extremely beautiful. To be fair, my view might have been bias. After living in Prague, and most recently in grey rainy weather, Bari’s warm and sunny day was the perfect medicine.
Also, the city is styled completely differently than Prague. Yes, it’s a lot smaller, but I mean while Prague is elegant, Bari is charming. The streets in old Town are small, twisty, and as the receptionist at the hostel said “you will get lost and that’s ok.”
Lost I did, but I didn’t mind as every turn led me to a cute area.
It was also the first time I was by the coast since March and it was lovely.
Also coming from Prague where the weather is more than half the temperature of Bari, I wasn’t wearing a jacket while the locals, who have experienced warmer weather in the summer, were bundled as I was in Prague. It was a funny scene for me.
For some reason, the two major churches were busy this day. It wasn’t a religious day or anything, but in the cathedral there was a service and in the basilica there was a wedding (which was cool to see as the bride was very beautiful).
The basilica holds the tomb of Saint Nicolas (Santa Claus) and in the Cathedral there is mummy, this woman is displayed in a glass box- a bit strange.
Both are free to enter.
It was interesting as in many European churches they have side chapels along the way to the alter. However, these two had only one Chapel and it was underground/below the altar.
The other big thing to see, literally and figuratively, is the castle. Unlike other castles, this one seems to be close to the medieval version (I mean without reconstruction, etc.)
Tickets are normally 8, there is a reduced price for EU citizens 18-25 for 4 euros and then there was a student price of 6.50. Since I am not an EU citizen, I asked for the student price. She looked at my student ID and then asked my age and gave me the 4 euro ticket. Not complaining.
There were a lot of cats at this castle for some reason…
The cool thing about this castle was the grand staircase, the columns, and dishes they found in the medieval dumpster, which acted like a time capsle.
There are plenty of signs about the different parts of the castle and different construction eras (like which King built what etc.).
The biggest contributor were a mother and daughter- the daughter I believe became Queen of Poland….Bona Sforza.
Anyways, besides the panels, there is a video and I was fortunate enough that I was the first in the room and so the man played the video in English for me! The other tourists didn’t seem to be native English speakers and therefore left as quickly as they arrived.
The dishes were cool as, though they were broken in big pieces, it was quite preserved.
Another thing that was different about Prague was siesta. The majority of the city shut down between 1pm and 5pm. I used this time for a nap and went to the castle since it remained open the whole time.
The siesta part was alright, mainly because it gave me time to nap, but what I really liked which was different than Prague was that after, there were so many people in the streets just hanging out and talking. The attitude is so much more relaxed and it made me feel relaxed as well.
I walked around the town at dusk to see it at night and then headed back to the hostel to plan for Naples.
There were some interesting people at hostel. One guy was taking a night ferry to Albania that night and was just chilling . He was getting stressed about border checks and the fact he’s going into Muslim territory (Bosnia and Herzegovnia). He was honestly a bit of a hypocrite because he was judging people on racial profiling and then was scared about being a target for having a stamp in his Passport.
To me, if you are against racial profiling, he could have chilled on what stamps he gets in his passport especially since he is a privelged citizen of the USA.
I told him that I had no problems in the Balkans and coming back into Schengen. And I really liked the Balkans. He was still worried.
I met a Chilean woman who was doing a work away in the hostel. She was pretty set that South America was dangerous in terms of food and water and that these cause lots of illnesses. I can’t say much for Chile since I was there only 2 weeks, but I have spent a lot of time in Peru and Argentina and I was only sick once from food in Peru. But I would say that was mainly my stupidity. I ate chicken from a street vendor (aka the chicken was raw sitting out and maybe wasn’t cooked very well). I also really enjoyed South America.
Maybe both Balkans and South America I was lucky. However, I think if you have your eyes watching your surroundings and don’t put yourself in those positions, you will be fine.
Finally, there was a woman from Prague who was on my flight and ended up being in my room. That was cool.
That was my time in Bari. I recommend it and the area. Unfortunately, I have big plans for Naples and therefore couldn’t spend that much time there or the area, but I believe I’ll be back.