italy / day eight / matera

After all the pasta and breads, olive oil and wine, I was so excited to get to the well equiped hotel gym downstairs, that I barely slept! Jordan and I headed down to basement and I had a really good arms session. We had a quick shower and then enjoyed a westernised style breakfast buffet, whilst going over plans for the day. Today we were going to Matera, in the small region of Basilicata, approximately an hour, by train, out of Bari. The ancient neighbourhood, namely Sassi, are a series of caverns carved out of limestone, nestled in a small canyon.

On arrival, we picked up a map of the Sassi and a punnet of strawberries for our journey. We soon made sense of the layout, breaking it up into a distinct New Town, Old Town, and in my opinion, Very Old Town. The train station is higher up and you could basically follow any of the streets down towards the main square. From there, it’s more of a wander and get lost kind of situation. I loved this, as the small number of tourists that were there just dispersed and you were solely there to immerse yourself in the seemingly small, but literally huge Sassi.

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Mid afternoon refuel of pizza bread and fruit smoothie, and we were back exploring the Sassi. Closer to the ravine, deeper into the town, there were many empty grottoes ready for me to explore; semi fenced off but not really.

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After farewelling the enchanting Matera, we ate at one of the only eateries we could find in Bari, Tankard Gastropub. We put some washing on at the laundromat across the road, whilst eating some delicious ribs and salad. The person manning the venue was lovely and so helpful with the menu, even though he couldn’t speak a drop of english. It was one of the tastiest meals we had.

To this day, Matera is one of the most incredible, absolutely magical places I’ve ever been and is seriously underrated. If you’re going to Italy and not sure whether to go, as it is a bit out of the way, I’m telling you now, it is 110% worth it.

honeymoon day four

After a refreshing nights sleep, we headed to breakfast with a motivation to do some exercise. We filled our bellies and borrowed some tennis gear. It was hot. We pumped ourselves up with some Pnau, Chameleon in particular, and some pre-workout (yes – I packed pre-workout in my suitcase, so what) and started hitting back an forth. It didn’t take long for the sweat to start pouring off of us.  Soon enough, it was time to hop on a boat and head to a deserted island for a picnic. _DSC9576_DSC9583

The resort organised us boat transport to the island, with a small esky of baguettes, some nibbles, a rug and an an icy cold bottle of wine. After Jordan had his fun on the swing, we had lunch then went for a walk through the jungle. We even ran into some locals with machetes (not scary at all). We tried doing some snorkelling but unfortunately, there wasn’t too much to see on this side. So we lazed on the beach awaiting our boat.

Once back on Efate, I grabbed my backpack and new hiking boots and we walked down to the closest village. There were nice big houses closest to the resort, but as we kept walking,  the scenery changed. Besides the many goats that were tied up to trees and roaming chickens, there wasn’t much else happening. Perhaps it was the time of day or maybe season, but it was surprising. We hadn’t yet seen how poor Vanuatu actually was. Most of the buildings were tin or looked to be only half completed (maybe in light of the recent hurricane). But I was shocked. As we started to enter the village, we met up with a staff member that worked at the resort. He had cut through on a different pathway. He walked with us and took us through the village, pointing out his home, church and other places. It was most enjoyable talking with him and learning about his community and culture.

Cutting back through on the dirt path, Jordan spotted some humongous trees and decided to attempt climbing one. I was actually quite impressed how far he got!

Now back to the restaurant for some more seafood and maybe a mango daiquiri or two.