Uniting this two ancient capitals of the greatest European empires was an old cream of mine. This trip description is just a part of a bigger Eurotrip that I made back in 2006, which started in the Netherlands and finished up in Greece. This exiting middle stage lasted for about 2 weeks and took me from the ancient capital of the roman empire, south to the port city of Bari, an overnight ferry to Patras, a small city in the south west of Greece and finally a train to Athens. In the way I saw the memorable landmarks of Rome, Pompeii, and the Parthenon.
I arrived to Rome in a train proceeding from Venice late at night, a thing that I don’t normally do since I regard risky arriving in the middle of the night to any big city without knowing where I’ll spend the night. Anyway I knew the address of a hostel recommended by a fellow traveller and decided to check it out. I could hardly find the place, located near the train station and when I did, it took something like half an hour for someone to pick up the buzzer and open up.
The next day I woke up anxious to see the many sights in the city. I started up in the Roman ruins, The Colliseuum and the arc of Titus representing the conquer of Jerusalem and the destruction of it’s temple. Walking in the midst of a lost empire surrounded by international tourists from all over the globe is quite distracting. Adding to that, the beggars and pick pocketers drive people insane. I got a paranoid American shouting at me cause he though I was trying to get his camera!
The next couple of days I spend them trying to get lost in the city, and trust me it ain’t difficult at all… the little winding alleys and the turns in the streets, adding to the river and bridges and the presence of many old and interesting buildings help a little bit too. I got most of the time the sensation that I was missing something, that there was right there a really important sight and I just missed it. With so many things to see in Rome though I don’t think that is a weird feeling. Still in all places that I been the crowds are a little bit too much.
Next I visited the Vatican. I have to be honest here, when I saw the incredible and excessive amount of people waiting to enter the place for hours in the cold morning I really wondered if it was indeed worth it. My first thought was to take off to another place, but then I went all the way to the front to see what was happening there, and what I discovered, shocked me… A complete chaos, with no guards or security checking who is getting in, or waiting, or whatever. So, I decided to take my chances and went for it, I entered the museum and approached the ticket office right away, got my ticket and enjoyed the morning wandering around the Vatican with almost no people inside.
After a few days in Rome I got enough of the crowds and decided to move on to one of the destinations that I was waiting to see for many years, Pompeii. Fascinated with the Vesuvius, during the train to Napoli, I was glued to the window as I saw the volcano. It’s impressive presence in the city, and the houses built on the hills of it, with no memory of the great power of the sleeping mountain above. After arriving to the Napoli central station I headed forward to the city, to the local train station, just a couple of blocks away. The time I spend in Napoli was like being back in south America some how, the people and the activity in the streets, the vendors, and the cobblestone streets created a mirage in my mind.
After a pizza stop I got to the train from Napoli to Pompeii itself, the crowded train had no tourists in it and I wondered how people got there, and if I was in the wrong place. I guess I expected tons of visitors heading the same way. After an hour or so, I saw the first McDonalds sign and the the golden arches were an indication that we might be near. I got down in Pompeii excavi station and walked to the gates of the old city. I wondered there in awe at the Roman city, dig out completely and so perfect that I can actually feel how it was back in the day. The Amphitheater, on which Pink Floyd performed, and the bathhouses are great, but just wondering around the far away houses and the streets was my favorite.
Hours went by until I got tired of it. When I came back to Napoli, I realized that I had no place to sleep, so I returned to Rome for the night, which turned out a couple of days, as I went to see the stone of the truth and other small sites. I decided it was time to move on and head towards Greece, so I started raiding to Bari. I got on the train and headed south. Arrival at Bari was on time and I headed straight to the seaport, which was located a couple of blocks away from the train. I met a guy whose name I cant spell on this alphabet, but it was something like Phebus, he was heading down to greece as well but on another ferry. We arrived at the port, and find out that both ferried leaved in the evening, and that I was gonna sleep in the deck.
I decided to get some provisions for the trip, and went to a supermarket near by, Phebus joined me and we went around to see a little bit of the city and to find a place to shop for food. We couldn’t find anything, but we saw almost the entire old city and the port. On the way back a small neighborhood store was open and we got there water, sandwiches, cookies and muffins for the breakfast.
The Ferry was fine, a little bit noise on the deck, so I left my bags in there, locked into a pipe and went to walk around. I found some cabins opened and unoccupied with bunk beds. like 20 beds, it was clearly the cheapest class and everyone was sleeping, so I decided to do the same, I laid down and woke up the next morning fresh having coffee and muffins while sailing in the blue Mediterranean waters.
Arriving in Athens required a small step, a train ride from Patras to the city, about half an hour or so. I headed to the station and when I was waiting for the train to come I saw Phebus, and we started to chat. Upon arrival in Athens he told me he was going to a friends house, that he had called and told me to come as well. I was shocked and a little bit uncomfortable, but I agreed, after all goodness comes in many ways. We arrived to a house in a nice neighborhood, and went to his friends house. I stayed there for almost a week, as we jammed, went out and sightseeing. They were so friendly and I was very grateful for the hospitality.
The Eurotrip finished but every end turns out to be a new beginning, as I was standing in the line to board my plane to the middle east new challenges came and adventure began again.