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Ger’s Puglia Trip Report: 19 days in May 2019

Ger’s Puglia Trip Report: 19 days in May 2019

Jun 16th, 2019, 09:23 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 335
Exploring Locorotondo, and ME being massively stupid!

Locorontondo is another beautiful Barque town, perched on a hill, with spectacular views.

In this case, the Tourist office, just beside the Cathedral was open and manned with local men, happy to help you, none with a word of English, but very enthusiastic.

I got a map and asked for directions as to where I would get the bus back to Monopoli. What I got from the conversations was the bus stop was down this road, turn right, bus stop was outside the Pharmacy. This was completely different from instructions I had researched, on multiple sites, which told me to go the Bus Station.

Worrisome indeed!

Anyway, I set out to explore this town with a very good map. It is very pretty and, on that afternoon, almost devoid of tourists.

Here are the photos


Evaluation of Locorontondo:

Loved it as much as Martina Franca, and it has its own charms.

A great day out in Puglia would be to start the morning off in Martina Franca at 0800, see all the extraordinary churches and explore the town. Have lunch at my favourite restaurant. In the afternoon, explore Locorotondo.

This would be a perfect day.

A Public Transportation side-bar:

About 20 minutes before the time the bus was due to leave from here to Monopoli, I set out to find a bus stop outside a Pharmacy, and I did find a faded sign that said “Fermatta”.

I was rather nervous about this, but eventually people stated to arrive, and I confirmed with them that a bus would eventually arrive to bring me to Manopoli, and 10 minutes late, it did arrive.

OK that is ONE version of story, but the reality of what happened is quite different!

So I will tell you the tale of me being completely stupid and almost missing the bus home!

I got to the Pharmacy bus stop 20 minutes before the time the bus was due to leave.

However, I misinterpreted the word ‘Fermatta’ for CLOSED, based on the French ‘fermé’, and, seeing no one around, assumed the bus stop was closed and rediverted.

I then ran down to what was described in my research as the “bus station” and discovered it was just a bus stop, in a rather shitty area, that had previously been train station, for a bus that was going in the opposite direction. I discovered this thanks to a conversation with a Polish family from Dublin that were going in the other direction.

Like a bolt of lightning, I suddenly remembered that ‘Closed’ in Italian translates as ‘chiusa’ and ‘fermata’ as ‘Stop’. F*&Kity Fu&K! I felt like a complete eefing moron at making such a simple mistake.

The bus to Monopoli was leaving from the Pharmacy in 5 minutes, and it had taken me about 15 minutes to get to this place, but surely the bus would be delayed.

I sprinted like Usain Bolt to the Pharmacy, considering possible transportation alternatives. I knew there was another bus to Fassano, a major transportation hub, that I could take later. Also, if all else failed, I’d just go into local bar and ask random people to drive me home for 35 Euros. Last alternative was to stay in a B&B and get a bus or train next morning but had left my passport in the Hotel – bugger!

Breathless and sweating, I arrived at the Pharmacy stop, and YES there were a few people gathering outside the Pharmacy. I asked if they were waiting on the bus heading where I was going, and they reassured me they were.

That evening, I had gin and tonic on the hotel terrace, grateful I had managed to get back to the hotel.

I longed to be back in Spain, where there are Bus Stations, not random secret bus stops that only the locals know about! 😊

Next: Day 3: Friday 3rd May: Ostuni, and another effing Bus challenge!

Last edited by OReilly64; Jun 16th, 2019 at 09:30 AM.
OReilly64 is offline  
Jun 16th, 2019, 10:16 AM
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Oh boy, oh boy, Ger! Gorgeous photos! Mehta meal fabulous!

And maitaitom, it looks like your kind of place.
TDudette is offline  
Jun 17th, 2019, 10:27 AM
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Another great report, I felt I was along with you, as usual. Thank you.!
cigalechanta is offline  
Jun 17th, 2019, 11:30 AM
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You sure bounce back! That bus saga would have thrown me.
Adelaidean is offline  
Jun 18th, 2019, 09:34 AM
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Thanks to all following along. I appreciate it and encourages me to continue.

It is one thing planning a trip from the safety and comfort of home, working on theory, and quite another dealing with the challenges ‘on the ground’, when you try to translate theory into practical reality.

This is particularly true as a single traveler when you have no-one else to help in times of confusion or crisis.

However, as my dear father would have said – this builds character, forces you learn by your mistakes and makes you brave to confront the next challenge, even if it is only figuring out the bus schedule from Ostuni to home-base 😊.

Best regards .. Ger
OReilly64 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2019, 10:22 AM
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Day 3: Friday 3rd May: Ostuni

The weather: Before I left London, I had checked the weather on a daily basis, and it promised temperatures in the mid-20s, sunshine and no rain and I packed for this, but was bitterly disappointed for most of the trip. This was the first day of the weather disappointment, but not as bad as it would become.

The destination for the day was Ostuni, a gorgeous hill town.


From armchair transportation research before I left, the trip to Ostuni should be easy: A 30 minute trip, by train and bus, to the centre. I had learned that the Ostuni station was nowhere near the town centre and a rather unpleasant 45 minute walk to the town. From yesterday’s experience: There would probably be no taxis, there might be a bus, and even if there was a bus, location and schedule might be random.

WTF! Let’s do it!

I took the train from Polignano at 0900 and arrived at Ostuni station within 20 minutes, under dark threatening skies.

Luckily, three others got off the train: A Japanese couple and a local lady. As I tried to figure out the very faded schedule on the bus stop, local lady told me the bus would arrive in 10 minutes, and to go into the coffee shop in the station to buy my tickets for the bus, and I did so (return). The local bus did arrive on time, and 15 minutes later, I was deposited into the main square.

Great, I thought, as this is where I would pick up the bus on the way back to the train station, and I just needed to find out WHEN. WRONG assumption!

I found both the official and unofficial Tourist office, just opposite where the bus dropped me off. The unofficial Tourist office was far more helpful, gave me a map, gave me instructions as to where I could take the bus back to the train station, gave me the bus schedule, gave me a card for a taxi I could call in case I missed the bus and asked for a few Euros contribution, which I gladly gave.

So, I started my exploration of Ostuni, suffering intermittent rain, which was rather disappointing.

Ostuni is lovely in its ‘bones’, but it is very ‘touristy’. Almost every business in the main streets is either a tacky souvenir shop or a fast food pizza joint.

There were what seemed hundreds of kids on day-trips from school – how can such small people make such massive noise? Most of the adult tourists were retired Italians, with a smattering of Germans, Dutch and Belgians.

I was very disappointed at the beginning of the walk as I wandered up toward the cathedral, and I questioned if the trip had been worth it. Then I entered the Cathedral was delighted with what I found and happy I had come.

Exiting the Cathedral, I was reviewing my map when this charming cheeky Italian 11/12-year-old boy came up to me and asked in perfect English: ‘Where are you from?”. I was then surrounded by a dozen boys and girls from his class, and we chatted in English for 10 minutes. They were from an English school in Calabria, on a three-day trip to Puglia. They were so delightful, polite and engaging and I realised I was being a bitch curmudgeon in not enjoying the noise and energy and enthusiasm of schoolkids. I once was once one of them!

Spirits lifted by this random encounter, I set out to explore the backstreets and find my restaurant. The best part of this trip was exploring the backstreets of the town! Amazing twisted cobbled streets that weave up and down in a higgledy-piggledy fashion.

I had booked Porto Nova 1989 for lunch; one of the more expensive options in the town that gets consistent reviews, although some complain that it is over-priced, and I would challenge that – not cheap, but fair.

Home - Ristorante Porta Nova

The restaurant was empty when I arrived.

I started with a glass of White from Brindisi and two Regal Oysters – deliciously fresh!

I then tried the local Orecchiette with tomatoes, ricotta and basil. It was an enormous plate and I finished less than a quarter. I found it tasty, but rather heavy and a bit ‘peasanty’ 😊

The main course of Polpo with honey and smoked potatoes was delicious, and I cleared the plate.

Total bill with two glasses of wine was about 55 Euros, which I though fair for what I had. I would recommend this restaurant.

After lunch, in the quiet of the afternoon, I continued to explore the wonderful backstreets, and also got an opportunity to explore the main thoroughfares without the tourists.

Here are some pictures:


Another near disaster with Public Transportation:

I left the town early to find the bus stop that would bring me back to the train station and found it! I read the schedule and clearly I had about 10 minutes to spare before the bus arrived, therefore I wandered a bit down the road to take my last photos of Ostuni.

Walking back up to the bus stop, I saw the bus pull away from the stop! WTF?

I ran out in the middle of the road in front of the bus, took my straw Panama hat off and waved at the busman to STOP.

Whether I was ON it or UNDER it, this bus was NOT leaving Ostuni without ME.

He stopped; I assume filling out the paperwork for dead tourist under the bus was too onerous.

Twenty minutes later I was on the train back to Polignano.

Next: A late afternoon in Polignano
OReilly64 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2019, 05:33 PM
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OMG another bus saga!
Puglia is falling further down my bucket list - I do not have your courage or tenacity!

But, sigh....lovely photos.
Adelaidean is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 01:29 AM
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Ah don't give up yet Adelaidean! It does get better . Frankly, both incidents were my own fault really.
OReilly64 is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 06:22 AM
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The lack of taxis surprised me. A “short” walk to a laundry in Polignano’s heat was challenging. But we loved Polignano and the other towns and villages we visited. It really is a special place although with some challenges. I need to return to dine at all your restaurant suggestions. Great report!
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Jul 21st, 2019, 06:42 AM
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DH and I had the same lapse in Siena after taking a taxi from the train station and figuring it would be easy to find another cab! HA.

Enjoying this very much, Ger.
TDudette is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 11:47 PM
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Day 3: Friday 3rd May: Polignano a Mare

Arriving back in Polignano in the afternoon, I decided to spend a couple of hours exploring. Luckily, the weather had turned and it was sunny and warm.

Polignano has quite a charming little old-town but it would probably be completely overrun in the height of the tourist season. There is a great selection of restaurants and bars and I sat for a while in one of the outdoor restaurants to enjoy a glass of wine and to watch the world go by.

Here are the photos:


Next: A cold and rainy day in Brindisi
OReilly64 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 07:12 AM
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Gorgeous photos, Ger. Upon more googling of the town, Polignano a Mare seems scarily close to the water.
TDudette is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2019, 12:58 PM
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I'm enjoying your report. This sounds like a fun, adventurous trip. Pics are beautiful. Looking forward to more.
When I went to Puglia 10 years ago it rained almost every day.
panecott is offline  
Jul 25th, 2019, 05:28 PM
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another wonderful report with information for those travelling to the same places
cigalechanta is offline  
Aug 18th, 2019, 09:02 PM
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I've finally had a moment to read your trip report, Ger, and am so glad I did! Great report, with so many helpful details and such wonderful humor. As another person who traveled in Puglia using public transportation (though not extensively), I'm glad to see that you managed, and I think Fodorites should be very grateful to you for your honest description of some of the problems you encountered. My travels there were much more limited, and the only taxi I used was one I had arranged well in advance, so I didn't run into the same problems, although I do remember that sinking feeling that comes with waiting for a delayed bus in a place that gives no outward indication of being a bus stop at all, and of realizing that even up-to-date bus schedules are best viewed as approximations. Kudos for your back-up plans (e.g., "if all else failed, I’d just go into local bar and ask random people to drive me home for 35 Euros") and for your good spirited willingness to manage in the face of the unexpected.

More to come, I hope!?!
kja is offline  

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