“Scusi! Can we take a left, here?” – Matera, Italia – 13 ottobre 2105

Travel day!

When I was a teenager, my dad, younger sister, family friends and I went on a multi-day raft trip down the Green River in northwestern Colorado.  We had to completely unload the boat every night – and, re-load it every morning.  (Camping was anything but light back then.)  After that trip my dad would mutter ‘load the boat,  unload the boat’ when doing mundane chores.

That’s how I feel about checking out of hotels.  My backpack was stuffed to the gills!  I didn’t think it could hold another thing.  Then, Antonio offered us a bottle of wine (Greco di Fuco) as a peace offering for the reservation conflict on the first night.  (By the way, this regional wine is delicious and inexpensive.)  I can’t believe I’m carrying wine across Italy again.  During my last trip to Italy I carried a bottle of Orvieto Classico from Orvieto to Cinque Terre.  So tempting to open it and pour in into my colored water bottle!

We really enjoyed our stay here.  I think the only downside was the poor internet connection.  For the fiscally-interested, my half of the hotel bill for the three night stay was  €240/$282 USD, which included the 10% IVA.  (At this point in the trip  €1 = USD 1.17)  For whatever reason, my main credit card couldn’t be processed.  That’s why you bring a back up or two!

Since the start of planning this trip, I knew getting from Positano to Matera was going to be challenging without a car.  Most of the advice was to return to Napoli and take a bus to Matera.  Or, take a train from Napoli to Bari and then a train from Bari to Matera.  I didn’t want to do either.

So, here’s what happened…

First, we took the 10 a.m. ferry from Positano to Salerno ( €12,00).

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There’s Amy pretending not to be nervous about getting on another ferry.

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Everyone except me and a man and his two kids went on deck.  I wanted to check out the cabin.

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Man overboard!  No, just bringing up the anchor.

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I sat with this family.  The kids were singing – the dad was a happy camper.

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We got a sea view of the towns along the Amalfi Coast.  This is the comune of Amalfi.

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Eeek!

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Salerno, our stop.

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Tired babe…

 

With the help of one sign, and friendly locals, we made our way to the train station.  And, then the most fortunate event occurred.  A Trenitalia employee was actually standing at the self-service machines assisting travelers!  It was a good thing because she informed us our train to Taranto was actually a bus!  We bought our tickets ( €12,90 each) at 11:31.  The bus was leaving at 11:35 and we found ourselves running to another unmarked bus stop.  Holy hell…

The bus was nice and comfortable.  (FYI, there wasn’t a bathroom on the bus and the stops along the route were too short for a break.  Yep, so no restrooms from about 9 a.m. to 15:30.)

The ride was really interesting – a lot of hill towns in the distance, vineyards, fruit trees, olive trees…  I’ve never seen a large herd of livestock in Italy – or a feedlot!  The largest herd I saw today was about 100 goats.

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Which hill town is that?!

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I also had this view.  I loved the curly-Q!

 

Amy and I were totally baffled about why we weren’t on a different bus heading north by now – instead of continuing eastward only to double back.  I tried to research it afterwards, but, finding on-line bus schedules is like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.  Supposedly, there are shuttles from Ferrandina to Matera, but, even when I found the website, I couldn’t find a shuttle timetable.  No lo so…

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Our longest stop – 5 minutes.

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Our inefficient route…

 

We arrived at the Taranto train station, on a bus, at about 15:30.  The next step was to bus it to Matera.  We knew our bus was leaving at 16:30 – and, it was the last bus to Matera.  Of course, the bus we were taking wasn’t leaving from this train station.

We asked a Trenitalia agent how to get to the nearest bus station.  He said he didn’t know.  Ya.  Right.  Jerk.  A man on the street gave us directions (to Porto Mercantile).

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It seems like bus centers are almost always in less than desirable areas.

 

We asked a woman in this bigletteria if we could buy our tickets here.  She said no, but, we could buy them on the bus (SITA Sud bus).

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This made me laugh.  If you have a question just pull up to the bus on your scooter and ask away!

 

I started getting an uneasy feeling about not having tickets.  I asked the woman again – just to make sure there wasn’t a ‘lost in translation’ problem.  I got the same reply.

Our bus finally arrived.  Well, guess what?  We couldn’t buy tickets on the bus!  We had to buy them from a tabacchi (€4,60).  My Italian temper was heating up.  This bus is ready to leave and we have to find an open tabacchi!  We just started moving swiftly down the street trying to find an open business at this time of day.  We found a place close by, bought tickets from a woman who is more computer-challenged than me and hauled ass back toward the bus.  I kind of feel badly, but, not really, for stopping into the bigletteria and sniping, “Grazie per niente!”  Karma will get me for that…

The ride to Matera was great.  Instead of looking at the towns from a distance, we went through them.  I had been taking photos along the way.  When the sun went down, I set my camera on my daypack – next to me.  I remember thinking, “I hope I don’t forget that camera when I get off the bus.  It’s kind of hard to see.”

We arrived at Piazza Moro at about 18:20.  We had no idea how to get to our B&B, but some women in a nearby office got a taxi for us – and, are we glad they did!  Because that’s how we met Luigi!

We are staying at Donna Eleonora Bed & Breakfast.  I was a little concerned about the location when we arrived.  As it turns out it is perfectly located – easy access to the sassi!  This B&B has three guest rooms, a cozy breakfast area and a small office area.  Amy and I were the only guests for the evening.  I had the room nearest to the entrance (Guerricchio).  Amy was down the a hall – an empty room was between us.  I loved my room!  Our hosts asked us when we wanted breakfast.  (How nice is that?)

I can’t wait to explore the sassi in this gorgeous city, tomorrow!

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