Day 16: Friday August 6th, 2004 Read Short Version View Photos

Short Version Instructions: Only read every other paragraph.

We woke up, had breakfast, finished packing then got the car and shoved all of our luggage into it once again. We decided to go north through Balogna to the east coast to take that major autostrada all the way down, which we proceeded to do. We drove for about three hours, had lunch at an Autogrill that had real food in addition to the tasty sandwiches we'd come to love, then I drove the rest of the way to Bari, another four hours.

Once in greater Bari, we had no idea where either our hotel or the pool where the Juniors European Championships were being held was. We drove around aimlessly for awhile, retracing our path a few times, and eventually stopped to get gas and directions. We drove around aimlessly a little longer and finally found our way to the hotel.

Thumbs Up: American hotel chains The Sheraton Nicolas was great. The highlight: A real queen bed, not two doubles pushed together. Of course, we had to change rooms to get said bed. We dumped off our luggage and took a taxi to the pool, where we caught two games. They announced the next day's schedule in Italian and then we were back outside waiting for a cab.

Thumbs Down: Snooty snack bar workers We had hoped that there would be taxis waiting, as this was a pretty major event, but there were none. Bekki and I went back inside to call a cab, but there was no number listed anywhere. We asked the snack bar workers who were absolutely no help, then puzzled over the phones for a while. There was a number scrawled on one of the phones, so we tried calling it to no avail. Defeated, we went back outside and waited a little while longer, then Alan and Bekki went in and figured out the required area code and we were told five minutes.

There were a few other people waiting for cabs, and when one came they took it. I'm sure it was "their" cab as they said they called and the phone number on the cab was different from the one we called, but it was still lame. A few minutes later "our" cab showed up and proceeded to take us the ghetto way out of the area and back to the hotel.

We walked a block down the street to a nice looking restaurant that turned out to be pretty popular on a Friday night. We didn't receive menus and our waiter just started bringing us stuff. We started out with a bunch of appetizers, including octopus, little fried whole calamari, small fried fish, a potato dish and cantaloupe and ham. Our waiter kept asking us if we wanted more fish, and when we said no, he would reply, "Okay. I choose," and disappear back into the kitchen. Next we got spaghetti with oil and tomatoes, a pizza and then dessert, which was huge slices of watermelon, a chocolate melty cake and four pieces of a custard pie thing.

During our dinner a crazy Middle Eastern guy came by and did a "magic" show for the crowd, which was lame but highly amusing nonetheless, mostly for the insane noises he was making while doing his four tricks. We tipped him fifteen cents in Euros and an American dime to show our glee. We then walked back to our hotel room and crashed.