The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

This is one of those days that you hope never happens but end up reliving for years to come because it makes for a great story.

The Good
On our last day in Rome we spent the day exploring the nearby neighbourhood Trastevere. We started early in the hopes of beating the heat and enjoying breakfast in an outdoor cafe. We accomplished both tasks and even discovered the riverside boardwalk lined with white tents that I had read about online. It’s a festival that takes place every night during the summer months called Lungo il Tevere Roma. During the day it is very quiet and makes for a great bike ride and at night it turns into an open air night club containing more than a kilometer of stalls along the Tiber river, each one a shop or cafe, restaurant or bar.

Trastevere

Trastevere

After some final shopping near the Pantheon and a delicious piece of buffalo mozzarella and tomato pizza to go, we headed to the Rome train station to catch our 2:50pm train to Bari, Italy where we were scheduled to board an overnight ferry to Dubrovnik, Croatia. This of course had been carefully researched and booked in advance to secure the cheapest and best way of getting around. After our 20 minute city bus ride we were watching the giant train screens to see from which track our train would be departing.

The Bad
The number finally came up on the screen about 20 minutes before our train was scheduled to depart: Track 18. Great! It was right in front of us. This was very good news since Rome is the second largest train station in Europe. Unfortunately Track 18 was actually 400 metres further down. We started walking but then quickly began to feel uneasy as we thought we heard that our train had been switched to another track. This happens quite often and they announce the changes over the speaker in Italian and English if you are able to catch it. We stopped and I stayed with the bags while Mindy went ahead to check. Nothing was showing on the sign so we gambled and decided to go anyways. Wrong decision. It was not our train but since we were 400m away from the main screen and now only had 5 minutes we knew we weren’t going to make it.

We started running and calling for help like hopeless idiots. The police, customer service, other passengers, and a poor travel agent named Marina couldn’t help us. We had missed the only train that could get us to Bari in time to catch our ferry. The next ferry didn’t leave for 2 days. After switching our train tickets twice, going to an Internet cafe, talking to a travel agent for about an hour, and waiting in line for customer service for about an hour we had a new game plan. We called our landlord Sergio and were able to get another night in our same apartment in Rome. We also had new train tickets (this time to Ancona, Italy) and a new ferry ticket from Ancona to Split, Croatia for the next day. We would still make it to Dubrovnik but it just meant a lost day, a 5 hour bus ride down the coast, and a lot of extra money.

The Ugly
After sweating more than I thought was humanly possible we finally made it back to our apartment for an impromtu final night in Rome. We were so physically and mentally exhausted from our 4 hour ordeal at the (non-airconditioned) train station that we were almost delirious. Unfortunately not quite delirious enough to miss the fully naked man standing in the balcony outside our window. It was actually quite a fitting end to our day and actually made us laugh out all the stress we had been carrying.

Next up: Croatia at Last!

Unfinished Business: Neapolitan Pizza & the Blue Grotto

Okay… time to catch up on some serious blogging.

On our third day in Italy we decided to take a full day trip to nearby Naples to search for Pizzeria Da Michele’s made famous by Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love. We took the high speed train in business class (fitting for two former business students) and found the place with little trouble. Since we were early we squeezed in some shopping and then got there for the opening in order to beat the crazy lineups. There are only two items on the menu: Pizza Margherita and Pizza Marinera. We got one of each. The pizza is cooked in a wooden oven and we were able to watch the whole thing. It was definitely worth the trip and only cost 4 euros for an entire pizza.

Pizzeria da Michele

 

Next up was a trip was a trip back to the island of Capri near the Amalfi coast: my second time. The first time I was unable to visit the famous Grotto Azzura (Blue Grotto) due to weather conditions so this time the perfect summer conditions made my dream come true. We started off with a 40 minute hydrofoil to the island and then quickly hopped onto a one hour boat trip to the famous cave. We loved being on the water and snapping as many photos of the island as physically possible. Mindy was totally in her happy place. We got to the cave and then hopped in to our own row boat with a very charismatic boat rower who led us into the narrow opening and showed us the amazing blue water in the cave while serenading us with classic Italian songs. It was kind of comical and overpriced but a great memory nevertheless.

Anacapri

Once back on shore we once again had perfect timing and caught a bus from the port to the upper town called Anacapri. The town is draped along the cliffs with white pristine houses and flowers. Picture perfect at every turn. After shopping and visiting the Villa San Michele we decided to take the small funicular (chair lift) to the summit of the island where we could see the whole island and get photos of the stunning little islands called the Faraglioni. The chair lift took 13 minutes each way and was the perfect end to our day on the island. We love being on the water and are immensely looking forward to more time on the water in Croatia.

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