Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rough Traveling

Getting from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Greece sounds easy enough, right? They both lie on the coast with just 2 small countries lying in between—Montenegro and Albania. We were wrong. We found out that there are no buses or trains that run that route, and we’re traveling way too cheap to fly. Apparently, the typical route is through Bari, Italy, which doesn’t seem to make much sense when you look at a map. This route involves taking a ferry from Croatia to Italy and from Italy to Greece. We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into when we headed to the ferry terminal in Dubrovnik at 9pm in the evening. We weren’t expecting several ferry and bus rides that would completely wear us out.

Our first ferry took us across the Adriatic Sea to Italy overnight (9 hours). The ferries have private rooms with beds for normal people, but we got the cheapest “deck seats” which meant scouting for a place to sleep during the voyage. The long benches had armrests between each seat, as if purposely placed there to prevent us from laying across. We luckily snatched the last round booth with a table in the lounge area, and to extend the seat, we pulled up two chairs for our heads. We slept with our feet touching in a semi-circle, towel for a blanket, jacket bunched up for a pillow. I really regret not taking a photo of our sleeping arrangement. My back, neck, and hips were aching too much to think of such things. We got to Italy at 8am and found out that the next ferry to Italy didn’t leave until 8pm. This meant we had an entire day to burn in Italy. Although I wanted to get the travel over with, I was relieved because it meant we could go to town and find some food. I was dying to stay and explore Italy for a month, but we decided we would rather save Italy for another trip in the future when the weather is warmer and we have more money. I felt very lucky to experience a little taste of Italy, because it wasn’t in our plan at all.

We made sure to grab some food to go before we dragged our feet back onto a ferry that evening. Once again deck seats. Brushing our teeth in the public bathroom. Sleeping in jeans. This second ferry boat was much newer and nicer. We even paid a few euros to get some internet, but it turned out to be painfully slow. This ferry had an area with “air seats” which were like oversized rows of airplane seats set in a dimmed room. It was very empty, so we were able to put the arm rests down on a row of seats so we could lay across to get some shut eye overnight. So much better than sleeping in a semicircle all night! The next morning we landed in Patras, Greece where we boarded a bus for 4 hours to Athens, where hundreds of ferries depart to the Greek islands. I expected Athens to be a very nice city, especially having held a couple Olympic games. We were disappointed with the ghetto bus station, the jammed highway, insane drivers, crumbling sidewalks, graffiti. I’m sure there is a nice part of town, but we didn’t stay long enough to discover it. We took another short city bus ride to the ferry terminal in Piraeus, then walked a mile with our luggage, barely making it in time to get on our ferry. This next ferry left in the evening and got us to Santorini, our final destination at 1am. 52 hours, 3 ferries, 2 bus rides later, we anchored in Santorini, Greece, beyond exhausted, sore in all the weird places, in need of a shower, and elated to be there.

Later today or tomorrow (internet is not on our side), we will share a little about our day stay in Italy, with photos, of course. And then, Greece! 

* Julia