Written last night on the ferry ...
Today was full of highs and lows. It started off with me feeling very good about myself. I made a new friend at my hostel and last night we discovered that when she had uploaded her pictures from her camera to her USB drive using the hostel’s computer she had acquired a virus and the card would no longer read on any computer other than the hostel’s. So, last night I was able to help her (using my computer and downloading a retrieval software) and recover her files. It was a late night but I felt good about helping someone out and having success!
I then set off for the train station and all of my train travels went well. Phew! When I arrived in Ancona, where I was to catch the ferry to Greece at 4pm, I began to run into a few difficulties.
First, the address I had been given for the Minoan Lines Ferry company was accurate, but closed. They neglected to inform me that I needed to go to the port office to get my tickets. There was a sign on the door of the office (in Italian of course) so I guessed that going to the ferry port would be a good options. Since it was Saturday at 3pm most things were closed. I was lucky to find a lady in the luggage store area who (quite rudely actually) explained to me how to find the ticket booth. I had to take a bus, which comes only every 20 minutes, to a different part of the port and then take the bus back to where I was at the time to get on the ferry. Joy.
I ran outside and luckily (since I only had an hour before the ferry left) the bus was arriving just as I was. I got on and asked the driver to let me know when to get off. He looked at me a little strangely and said 5 minutes. I sat, frustrated, and prayed that I would make it on the ferry. The reason the bus driver looked at me like I was crazy was because the bus only stops at one stop – the ticket booth – and then returns to the ferry terminal.
I had to wait in a line for a bit to get my ticket but the nice thing is that with a rail pass the deck passage for the ferry is free. I wanted to upgrade to a cabin (the rail pass gives a 50% discount) but they told me I had to do it onboard. Ok. So, back to the bus I went and back to the terminal – arriving at 3:30. I walked through the ticket check-point, which was less official than getting into Gwinn (my University’s cafeteria for those of you who didn’t go to SPU) for lunch. I was then standing on the pier while they were loading trucks and cars onto the ferry.
I dodged my way through traffic and approached an official to ask where I was supposed to be. He asked me if I was alone and to see my passport. Kind of strange to ask if I was alone as no one was with me, but ok. Anyway, they said I could go inside. I rode the escalator up to the main floor and went to the reception area (where there was a rather large line) to ask about upgrading. When I reached the front desk they told me I had to wait until everyone who had already booked a cabin was checked in. Not a problem. So, I went and sat. She had told me to wait until the ship left port to check back in.
I waited a full hour after the ship left port before I got back in line, waited 15 minutes, and then was told once again to wait until everyone who was in line behind me had checked in. So, back to the wall I went and sat, continuing to try and solve my Sudoku puzzles. Finally, at 5:45 (an hour and 45 minutes after the ship left port) the line had ended and I went back to the desk. I was passed off to a bald old Greek man who spoke little English, but enough. He started to show me the rates for the cabin. I asked about the 50% discount and he looked at me like I was crazy (I tend to get that look a lot). I showed him my rail pass and where in my book it said the 50% discount should be. He asked me to give him 20 minutes to find the answer. So, back to the lobby I went.
At 6:10 I went back to his office to ask and he still did not have an answer. I returned to the lobby and he said he would come get me when he had an answer. About 10 minutes later he popped out and waved me into his office. He was on the phone with someone discussing the matter (in Greek) and intermittently asking me for my ticket and other various paperwork. I really didn’t mean to be so much trouble. In the end, he said that I was right and there was a 50% discount but because of all the trouble and confusion he was just going to give me a bed. Amazing!
The lady at reception gave me keys to a room and told me that she didn’t think anyone was in there. I couldn’t believe it. I found my room and it was true! I have a cabin all to myself free of charge! I am so thankful for the kindness of the little Greek man. I was afraid I was going to have to sleep on deck and be extremely tired in the morning. Plus, the no-cost for the room will definitely help my daily average go down some. My daily costs increased once I hit Italy and tomorrow night I will be staying in a hotel because I could not find any hostel rooms in the town I am visiting. So, for two nights I get a private room all to myself. Jesus must have known that I needed a few nights of good rest before my crazy schedule in Greece moving cities every two days or so.
I am now in my room, enjoying the privacy and am getting caught up on some journaling and reading in my devotional. Tomorrow we arrive in Igoumenitsa at 8:15 and from there I will have to find the bus station to catch a bus to Kalambaka where I will stay for the night. I’m looking forward to tomorrow as I will get to visit some monasteries that are built into the cliffs the town. They believe they were originally inhabited by 11th century hermits. It’s supposed to be quite interesting. Monday I head to Thessaloniki for a few nights and then on to Istanbul. Tomorrow night is going to be busy doing research for the next week or so as I have been slacking a bit in that department.
I will update tomorrow night as well with pictures (on facebook) about the rest of my travels. Thanks for reading and thanks to those of you who offered your support in my decision to come home a bit early. I am very happy with my decision and am looking forward to the perks that I will get to enjoy by doing it.