Saturday, 17 October 2015

Arrivederci Italia

15th October 2015

Well here we are, parked up at Brindisi's Terminal. It's hours until the boat leaves, but it's raining (not forecast) and we are both feeling somewhat zonked after a sleepless night. More of that later.

Anyway, back to yesterday. We were in two minds where to stay the night before we sailed. The Camperstops book gave two options. Firstly, a couple of big sostas on the coast near Torre Canne; secondly, on the outskirts of Brindisi itself a secure parking called Garage Minnuta. Cost-wise there was little to choose between them, they were all about 15 euros. In the end we decided to drive from Alberobello to the coast, have a look at the sostas, and if they were closed or looked insecure go on to Brindisi - a plan!

It's a pretty drive through Locoretondo, towards Fasano and the coast. We found a small Centro Commerciale on the way. It was ultra-modern perched among the Trulli, but an attractive structure.

Strikingly modern small centro commeriale on the outskirts of Locorotondo, quite a contrast to the nearby Trulli

The olive covered slopes above Fasano
Soon we were dropping down from the hills around Monte Signora Pulita, an endless jungle of olive groves covering the coastal plain. We stopped at Torre Canne for lunch, next to the small fishing port. The harbour wall was covered in really cool looking graffiti, murals really, rather than street art scrawl.

Lunch stop at Torre Canne
Jolly murals on the harbour wall

The blustery wind and rain abated by the time we had eaten and we wandered around the pleasant little resort, mostly closed up, but at least one cafe was still open with a seaside terrace - gelato and macchiato time!

Nice small resort
The municipale are in the process of developing a palm shaded seating area in front of the lighthouse - public investment! 

This new shrine by the sea reminds us that the local fishermen still believe they need divine protection - a hazardous way to earn a living, I might hedge my bets too, maybe throwing in an extra offering to Poseidon for good measure.

First, the gelato
then a bit of rock pool mooching...

Then back to the cafe for a machiatta with a view - no rushing about!
We drove past both sostas. The Camperstop book had not given their opening times, and like the places further up the coast, both were locked up. Garage Minnuta, Brindisi here we come.

The place looked OK in the book. We had used similar looking secure parking facilities last year in Autocaravanas Malaga, a bit spartan, but alright for a night. As it turns out, Garage Minnuta is not really intended for Motorhomes really. It's a secure truck-stop, with all the charm of a transport caff. It does have one toilet and a shower (male). There are services, but using them costs 3 euros and the attendant comes along to hold the hose while you flush out the Thetford - a slightly uncomfortable moment. There is electrical hook-up, it costs a further 3 euros over and above the 10 euro base price. Accessing this additional service involves an in-depth tutorial from the attendant on how to connect to an EHU. Well a motorhome owner might never have tried that before, just think, I won't have to use the candles ever again!

Ah, the charms of Garage Minnuta

Under cover parking did nothing to muffle the noise
No other motorhomes - trucks vans and speedboats...
All of this could be easily dismissed as slight weird, quirky even. The place operated 24 hrs with trucks leaving and arriving constantly. After nightfall the big metal security gates are drawn. To enter or exit it is necessary to get the attention of the watchman. I say watchman, but in practice he does not really watch anything, instead, dosses on a little divan in a hutch next to the big gate. To get his attention the truck drivers give a blast or three on their klaxons. The watchman is obviously a deep sleeper. It usually takes a couple of a attempts to raise the undead, but eventually as you lie awake staring up at the skylight you hear the tell tale whirring and grating of an electric gate in need of lubrication. Then as the pantechnicon sweeps majestically from the premises, a high pitched security buzzer sound alerting zombie watchman that a vehicle is leaving or entering. This procedure is repeated a few times an hour throughout the night, interspersed with sundry truck revving and outbreaks of hearty salutation and camaraderie between the drivers as they discover long lost colleagues, unseen since last Wednesday.

It was two grumpy motorhomers who left Parking Minnuta this morning to while away some hours in Brindisi docks It's the real deal here, no swanky gentrification or waterside living 'loft' apartments. Proper docks, with cranes and rusting bulk carriers, bored truck drivers and groups of stocky Albanian guys practising being surly and menacing. Just to complete the godforesaken ambiance the warm drizzle has just developed into a blustery downpour.

This Albanian white van man had welded a hasp to the drivers door and fitted a hefty padlock for good measure...not reassuring....

Patras here we come
Too thrifty to book cabins, we have only one more broken nights sleep between now and our Greek adventure. I fear we are going to be none too perky when we arrive in Patras tomorrow afternoon. I can't wait...

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