Monday, April 5, 2010

Camping on the High Seas

April 1-2, 2010
By Claire
As we pulled out of the port at Patras in Greece, I could feel the excitement of yet another adventure just around the corner. It will be great to be back in Italy, no matter that it will be for just a few days. We have so many wonderful places to see ahead of us but for just this moment, I am picturing us in a small Italian hill town, sipping cappuccinos in the town square, taking in the everyday life.

Leaving patras--note Rio–Antirrio Bridge

It’s always hard to leave a place; we spent a total of 41 days in Greece, 7 of them before our 3 months in Turkey and Egypt. It’s interesting how we venture into each new country with a certain amount of trepidation and then, before we know it, we’re comfortable and wonder what we were worried about. Italy will be like going home again. Signs will be easier to read, the language a little easier to understand and then there is the gelato…..

So here we are, a small group of 10 campers all traveling “Open Deck” to Ancona, Italy. They hooked us up to electricity, located on the ceiling, using poles that they hooked into cables then pulled down for us to plug into our camper. We even have a great bathroom and a shower. We are kicking back inside Homer with a view out the windows onto the Adriatic Sea and we will even gain an hour. Chuck is currently reading Mozart’s Wife by Juliette Waldron in preparation for our visit to Vienna. I plan to begin the book as soon as I finish The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee. I just couldn’t wait, as he is one of my favorite authors.

Note the cigarette. There is a large no smoking sign on the opposite wall.

We can’t cook using gas or electricity on board so we had a Greek salad for dinner—kind of a farewell as we venture into other ways of eating. Will they have feta in Budapest? Krakow? It’s time to move on I guess.

Camping open deck

I was lying in bed around 8 am when the loud, multilingual announcement, preceded by a loud xylophone or harp, (in case we couldn’t hear it) announced that the restaurants were now open. This happened a number of times last night—“THE RESTAURANT WILL CLOSE IN 15 MINUTES,” “THE FAST FOOD RESTAURANT IS NOW OPEN.” Fortunately, it settled down around 11 pm. On the other hand, what were those guys talking about so loudly on our deck? I did sleep well, though, gently rocking back and forth and enjoying the vibrations of the ship. This sure beats driving all the way back up through mainland Greece, into Bulgaria and up through Romania. We’ll arrive in Budapest, Hungary, when we would have still been toiling along through Bulgaria.

View from Homer aboard ship

We both took great, forceful, showers and spent the rest of the morning reading and watching the sea go by. Once we spotted land, we sailed into Ancona, unhooked our electricity and followed the other campers out. Aaaahhh Italy. It’s good to be back. We can even translate the signs and there were lots of them directing us out of the port and onto the motorway. It was all so easy! The hills are the greenest green and everything is in bloom. This is such a lush country.

Arrival Italy

We drove an hour and a half to the hill town of Urbino where we parked and walked up a VERY steep street to the town square and the Ducal Palace. We felt a few drops of rain and were very cold. It’s hard to adjust to the crispness in the air. The palace was interesting, especially the vast basement with cisterns and places for the horses—and our Teacher Discount Cards saved us 50%.

Hiking up the steep streets of Urbino

Inside a fireplace inside the Ducal Palace in Urbino

Urbino cathedral

Coming out, it really started to rain; so thoughts of enjoying a cappuccino in the square while watching the world go by were quickly shelved. We hustled back to Homer, hit the road and made our way to Camping Riccione, €15, just outside of the Republic of San Marino. What a great campground! Beautiful bathrooms with plenty of showers, foot baths and even private toilet/sink cubicles. This place has everything you could possibly need—except Wifi or any internet at all. They just opened for the season yesterday and haven’t gotten around to hooking up the WiFi. They were just a bit frantic. We arrived behind about 4 other campers and one of the employees started going to each driver’s window telling us to pull over and park then go inside to register. This place is bustling with a bar and ristorante, mini market, children’s play area and bike rentals. It must be the Easter holiday or just the start of the season for most people. We’ve gotten so used to having campgrounds to ourselves but do enjoy having people around. Our ACSI discount card is already in service—we were charged just €15.

It’s hard to describe how different it is here compared to our lives for the past four months. Everything is modern and works. The roads are great and we can find our way around, and yet, it’s so Italian!

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home. ~ James Michener

No comments: