From Italy to Greece

image

I have no clue how I made it on this ferry. My train got me to Ancona 13 minutes late but that was the least of my challenges. Upon walking out of the train station, my brilliant plan was to take a taxi to the port, buy a ticket and hop on the ferry leaving for Igoumenitsa in just under two hours. This was a really bad plan.

There were no taxis outside the station. I got to watch the last one drive off just as I approached the stand. New plan: walk to the port. There was plenty of time so this shouldn’t be an issue. Don’t mind the rain.

As I approached the port some thirty minutes later it became immediately obvious that there was no ticket office here. But luckily, a quick scan of the street above the port revealed a SuperFast Ferries awning. Very promising. I approached the door only a little panicky at this point. It was locked with a single sign “Ring next door – first floor – f. Ii morietti”. Easy enough. I checked the door to the left; it didn’t look promising. I then proceeded to the right. The door was open so I tried just going in. As I scaled the steps to the first floor (that’s one flight up here in Europe) I found myself in a tiny hall with two unmarked doors. Okay, back down. A quick scan of the buzzers revealed one Morietti. I buzzed. No answer. Back up the stairs I went, this time one door was open a crack. As I pushed the door open, I was impressed to see a full buzzing office. There was SuperFast signage all over. Perfect! In the right place at last. Or not…

Everybody was quite busy in this office but after only a few seconds one of the ladies put her call on hold.

“You want to check in today?”

“Yes, hopefully. To Igoumenitsa.”

“Okay, you have to buy your ticket at the check-in.”

Oh. We stumbled a bit over directions but I was pretty confident she meant this was down at the port (spoiler: she didn’t). I was on my way down to the port which I had previously determined had no ticket sales. It took me a good 15 minutes to get down to the port where I asked around for check-in and tickets. I finally found someone who spoke just enough English to direct me. “You walk one kilometre that way to train station, then you look for signage saying ‘ticket office’.” Back to the train station? You must be joking me.

I hastily walked back to the train station determined that this didn’t seem correct. Sure enough, when I got there I looked around and found the sign. For ferry ticket office, take the free shuttle. Perfect! Except, that’s the shuttle and it’s driving away. The next shuttle would depart at 13:00 and my ferry was scheduled to leave at 13:30. I wouldn’t make the boat if I waited for the next shuttle.

I contemplated my options for a couple minutes. Although I knew where I needed to be – the ticket office – I had absolutely no idea of where it was. Then I noticed the taxi stand was full again. Perfect! All the cabs were empty but I quickly managed to track down a driver who spoke English. He could take me to the ticket office. He didn’t bother starting the metre and decided the fare was €10. Whatever. At least i was headed in the right direction.

I got inside and asked the SuperFerries desk if it was too late to buy a ticket. Yes, it was.

Oh.

“But,” the ticket agent volunteered, “you can try Minoan. They leave thirty minutes later.” She pointed across the hall. Turns out this was the one day a month with more than one ferry a day. Thank God.

I ran over and they sold me a ticket. Only €22 with my Eurail pass. Now, how do I get to the ferry. The shuttle? “No, it’s too late. You must walk. And hurry, they are boarding now.”

I left the ticket office and headed in the general direction of the ferry. A few wrong turns here and there and I finally found my way on board. Time to relax.

image

How are you with dealing with unexpected obstacles? Have you ever had a major plan fall apart last minute?

Advertisements

Thoughts on Milan

Milan is starkly different from Basel. It is my first stop in Italy so I am simultaneously discovering this beautiful, ancient city and Italian culture.

I’m not sure how old this city is but first impressions suggested it had been built long ago. As I explored deeper I learned Milan is downright ancient. One church I explored had been built in the fourth century and, by that time, Milan was already a powerful and important city.

As you walk through the streets, the history of the city is incredibly apparent. Every street is paved with giant cobblestones. The stone buildings loom over the bustling streets.

And then you get to see Milan’s prime tourist attraction, Duomo (or simply the cathedral). This is the most fascinating piece of architecture I have seen in my life so far. The spires scrape the sky far above your head in a dazzling display of might. This cathedral took 400 years to build and it shows.

image

On a personal note, what really made this city memorable for me was the fantastic hostel experience. This was the second city on my trip in which I was lucky enough to meet great people. We had two amazing nights of drinking and socialising that I wish could have lasted forever. We spent our last night in a piazza (or square) drinking alongside hundreds of locals. That was a night I won’t soon forget.