… to Greece (kind of)!

Today was quite the travel day! When we went from London to Paris so many days ago, everyone said “this will be the longest travel day.” That might’ve been true for people not going to Greece but for the rest of us, today takes the cake. I didn’t sleep well (have I mentioned that I really hated the hotel in Rome?) so I was up early anyways when Justin texted me at 4:50am that Greg was drunk and acting ridiculous in their room. I won’t get into the details but it was crazy so I tried to help any way I could via text because I had to pack and get ready. We take an overnight ferry to Greece tonight so we had to pack a small bag for our room so they could store our luggage under the ship. This required a little suitcase Tetris!

I couldn’t remember if the meeting time was 6am or 6:15am so we were in the lobby by 6am just to be safe. We ended up waiting until close to 7am to leave because our bus driver overslept but it was fine because the lobby was the only place with Wi-Fi. When we finally got on the bus, we had a packed breakfast. If I ever see another croissant, it’ll be too soon.

Because we were up so early and because so many people went out last night, we were all exhausted. For the first time all trip, EVERY curtain on the bus was closed to avoid the sun. With a few empty rows now from the people who went home, we were able to stretch out a little more and actually lay flat to sleep. It was great but I would rather have them here then have their bus row!

We stopped for a short break and made it to Pompeii around 10am for a walking tour of the excavations. The place was packed and the souvenirs were perverted (I still don’t have a good reason why) but we survived. It was very hot and since I forgot to apply sunscreen, I decided to be one of those crazy people who used an umbrella to shield myself from the sun. I have managed to not get sunburned so far and I had no plans to start today. Victoria and I have joked all trip that we feel like a potato and I really didn’t want to turn into a tomato so I had no shame using the umbrella.

The tour of the excavations was pretty cool. Pompeii was a Roman town for wealthy merchants that was one of 3 towns covered in volcanic dust after mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. The volcano was 10 miles away so Pompeii got the worst of it but even with a population of 12,000 people, only 2,000 perished. We saw the perfectly in tact bodies and dog they recovered and learned about the process they used to extract them. That part was pretty intense. The town was pretty sophisticated for their time, having sloped roofs to collect water, sliding doors for shops, and even red paint for their murals (apparently red was a difficult color to make/get). They were also the first to have amphitheaters, even before the Colosseum. The town’s impressive water system was actually pretty dangerous too; they used lead pipes and ‘staples’ to piece together water fountains and deliver water through the town, therefore contaminating the water and slowly poisoning the people. The same thing happened in Rome. The entire site was very interesting and very crowded but I enjoyed walking through it. There were several statues there but they weren’t part of Pompeii, they were a part of an art exhibition. Some of the statues were promiscuous so a lot of people were taking crazy pictures.

After our tour, we had lunch at Hotel Vittoria nearby. They clearly specialize in tourist lunches because for €12 we got a choice between salad and fries, a choice between pizza and pasta, ice cream, and a drink. They were just cranking out these set menu items so it was a quick meal (compared to most European restaurants) and actually pretty good. I enjoyed it and it was nice to be inside after being in the heat.

We re-grouped at 1pm for our last major bus ride to Porto di Bari, where we board our ferry. Before really getting into the drive, we stopped at a really picturesque overlook of the coast and took some pictures. The view of the water made everyone even more excited to get to Greece!

It was about a 5 hour drive, of course with a stop halfway. I napped before our stop, like most of us, but not the second half. By this point, we all slept so much that we were all pretty awake and the bus curtains were open again and we were being social. With Victoria in the row in front of me and Abby in the row behind me (the two sickest people here… severe coughing, sneezing, etc.), I’m a little nervous I’m going to finally catch the plague that I’ve somehow avoided thus far. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen. Victoria also got a little upset with me because I wouldn’t tell her what we did 2 days ago. She was behind on journaling and she had asked me what we had done that day every night when she journaled and I was tired of answering. I wanted her to think about it and try to remember on her own and she didn’t like that.

We arrived in Bari at 5pm and after getting tickets, going through security, and loading luggage, boarded the boat just after 6pm. Of course it was freezing and raining just as we arrived so it was fun to deal with all of our stuff while having to hold umbrellas! Somehow Victoria and I managed to score a room with just the two of us which was pretty lucky because most everyone else has 3-4 to a room! Our room was small but cute; very comfortable for the circumstances. I had never been on a boat like this before or even slept on a boat overnight before so it was all very new to me!

Victoria wanted to take her sea sick medicine and go straight to sleep so I went down to the main area and had dinner with group. I ended up hanging out with Avery, Anna, Neelum, and Cassie for most of the evening and it was good getting to know them more. It turns out, most of the group thought the only reason I was on this trip was to babysit/chaperone Victoria and that her dad (also my CEO) wouldn’t let me go unless I did. A lot of people at work thought the same thing or made snarky comments to me before leaving. I’m really bothered by that so let it be known: this trip was my idea. I planned it for me and me alone. When I gave my boss the courtesy to ask for a month off (time which I have so am allowed to take), he and his wife asked if Victoria could join me as a graduation present for her. I could have said no and gone alone but I said yes and that’s how we ended up here together. I also made it clear to Victoria and her parents that I was in fact, NOT her babysitter and she could do whatever she wanted.

Now that I’ve cleared that up… the girls and I  watched the most amazing sunset from the deck and hung out with Marlene before calling it a night around 10pm. Our ship docks tomorrow around noon so we’ll have breakfast on board and have a few more hours to hang out before finally arriving in Greece!

Until tomorrow,

Jillian

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