After a relaxing weekend at Santa Maria di Leuca I was starting to get the itch to hit the road again after a Sunday of doing absolutely nothing :p So Monday after a nice breakfast I woke Floran packed up and started my way to Otranto.
Floran was a little slow in the morning so I went ahead and left before him, but we made plans to meet up at the same camping in Otranto. The route was once again incredibly beautiful along the Adriatic coast with wonderful views of the sea and cliff shores, the road was very quiet with very little traffic which made for a very relaxing ride.
I did come across quite a few other cycle tourists, but not on a tour, just going around for the day on a rented bike, but it was very fun to see their faces when I passed them by on my fully loaded bike on a climb :P I also got very close to having somewhat of a traffic accident as I went down a hill to fast through a corner that was a bit sharper than I anticipated and was a meter or so short of crashing into a van going the other way….. oops, luckily I have some very well working breaks and reflexes (apparently) ^^
When arriving at the camping there was a very relaxed atmosphere and a very nice looking agriturismo campsite unfortunately like pretty much all of the campings I have visited in Italy this one too had no grass field to pitch my tent but a pretty hard floor which makes for a somewhat unpleasant night :p
After pitching my tent and a refreshing shower it was time for a nice cold beer while waiting for Floran and send some host requests for the following locations.
Due to a pretty bad weather forecast for Tuesday, I decided to not make my way to Lecce just yet and have an extra day of relaxing in Otranto and explore a little bit more….. although when I was doing that the grey skies vanished and it was actually nice enough to chill on one of the small but beautiful beaches for a while, that is until the dark clouds came back with a vengeance :P
Luckily I saw them coming from some distance and made my way back into the town and found Floran reading his book on a café terrace so I decided to join him, just in time since a couple minutes later there was a pretty big downpour………. Which I enjoyed watching from the dry terrace with a nice cold beer ^^ Luckily it cleared up a little before evening which made cooking a lot easier :p
With the weather taking another turn for the better, with clear skies and a lovely hot sun it was a good day to make my way to Lecce and since my host Simona had to work until 16h I had all day for the 52km (mayb 2.5 hours of cycling) and took my sweet time waking and packing up.
Around 14h I was already very close to Lecce, about 12km away in a small village on the coast with some nice beaches and so I decided to chill out and enjoy the sun, beach and sea while waiting for an hour or 2, not bad at all.
Unfortunately she was a little bit busier than originally planned and when I arrived in Lecce and turned my internet on again I received a message she’s another hour or two late…… which gave me plenty of time to get lost… find my way, get lost again and in the meantime get a kebab and some gelato :P
Around 18.30 she was all done and was nice to meet her in person, she was a bit shy in the beginning since I was her first couchsurfer, but luckily the ice was broken soon enough and we were having a fun time chatting about our travels and such.
Around (Italian) dinner time we headed out into the center to find some pizza and beers and had a very fun time eating, drinking chatting and making fun of passers by :P
Unfortunately the next morning we had to get up really early since Simona had to get to work again, but the bright side of getting up so early was that I could explore the city when there was almost nobody out in the streets and could be the annoying tourist without actually annoying or being annoyed by anyone :P and it was also just very relaxed walking through such quiet streets :D
In the afternoon I got a message from another CS host who I had sent a request that she was off all day and would like to meet up and give me a personal tour of Lecce, turned out she used to work as a tour guide too, so that was really cool.
She too was really nice and I had a lot of fun learning about the architecture and history of Lecce which I have to say really is a beautiful city, after a couple of hours of walking Carla invited me to join her and some friends for lunch at her house and as a thank you I got us some wine from the area.
They were all really nice and I had a really good time hanging out with them and killing some time until Simona got out of work again.
Friday we again had to get up VERY early due to Simona having to go to work again and unfortunately the skies were filled with dark clouds again… bleeehhh not a very comforting idea since that day I was going to make my way to Brindisi some 55km away.
Although the clouds were getting darker and darker…… the rain didn’t come and I was starting to think I would actually make it to Brindisi with all my stuff nice and dry, but as soon as the thought crossed my mind about 7km from Brindisi….. the sky broke open and let loose another downpour which soaked my completely from top to bottom in less than 5 minutes….. :/ and kept going for a while longer with of course no shelter in sight…. At least not until after getting soaked and made it kind of useless to make use of it :/
So I just kept going the last couple km and went to find some shelter at the train station where I was to meet Elisa my host for the weekend and try and get me and my stuff dry and warmer. I was getting a lot of weird looks from people getting in and out of the station, but to be honest I thought it was quite funny and even met another Italian travel junkie that is planning to go from Brindisi to Berlin in a little while so that was nice for a fun conversation and kill some time.
After a little while I was greeted by Elisa with a big smile and went to get some tickets for the train to her home, which turned out wasn’t going and was replaced by a bus about an hour later, so we went for a little walk around (yes the rain had stopped) and came back for the bus which turned out not to have space anymore for another bike ……. So instead she called her dad to ask and come and pick us up, since she didn’t want me to get soaked again on my way to her house, which I definitely agreed with :P
After checking the water damage and putting all wet stuff out to dry we had a nice lunch with her parents which was pretty fun and they were very interested in my travels, lunch was really good also btw… yummmmmm. After lunch we went around the Historic center here in Mesagne but soon enough it began to poor again so we decided to head back and relax a little and try again in the evening and go to a band performance and get some beers with her friends, which made for a very fun evening.
Saturday Elisa had the whole day planned out since she is very enthusiastic to show me the city Brindisi and introduce me to some more of her friends, who were at a park were a little festival was going on, which made for a very nice start of the day :D Unfortunately it seemed that the dj’s wanted to have a siesta and kinda out of the blue all music stopped and the park was empty in no time :/
So we too left and started our tour of Brindisi with two of her friends. It too is a nice city and was fun to explore with them. After a the tour I wanted to see where to get the ferry and buy my ticket and thought it would be easy and done with pretty quickly……. Man was I wrong……….
The first obstacle was finding the right port and after asking some people and being sent in several different directions we finally knew where to go……. Then we still had to find the right terminal and once again being sent to 5 wrong locations finally the 6th one was actually the correct one, it took us a good 2 or 3 hours to finally find the right place and get my ticket…. Pffffff but I’m just happy to have it in my pocket ^^
After getting something quick to eat we went back to Mesagne, relaxed a bit and went to get some beers in a pub and have some fun with her friends again.