I wasn’t expecting it to be quick. I wasn’t even expecting it to be on time.
Travelling within a slightly disorganised country can be difficult enough. But taking a 16 hour ferry from one chaotic (but beautiful) country to another? Good luck.
My expectation for the ferry’s timeliness turned out to be well-founded on a long overnight ferry from Brindisi, Italy to Patras, Greece. But the 16 hour journey was difficult enough to begin.
I spent the few days prior to the ferry in Lecce, on the far heel of Italy’s boot. Although the ferry from Brindisi wasn’t until early evening, I decided to take a morning train there with the hopes of buying my ticket early and relaxing in the town.
Well, that wasn’t going to happen.
I got to Brindisi well before the ferry was scheduled to board. Perhaps even before it was meant to arrive in the port.
But it didn’t matter how early I was. I couldn’t buy a ticket. The ticket office only opened a few hours before the ferry departed.
So I waited.
I met another backpacker and we, naturally, began chatting.
He was at the start of his trip and in a bit of a bind. Since he left the US a week earlier, his credit card had stopped working and he didn’t have access to any money.
This was someone I figured I could help. Plus, it would give me something to do while I waited.
Off we went to a bank to see if his card would work. I knew more Italian than he did and helped him navigate the tellers and ATMs.
No luck. Nothing would work.
He told me he didn’t have enough money for the ferry so he would stay put and try to get money wired to him from the US.
He tagged along with me anyway.
I bought him breakfast and an espresso since he was nearly out of money. Espresso is a necessity in Italy and I couldn’t quite eat in front of him without offering him something.
We kept each other company while I waited for the ferry but it wasn’t quite clear what he was waiting for.
When it came time to buy the ticket, we headed to the ticket office and I figured out what it was he had been waiting for.
He asked me then and there, while I had my wallet out paying for my own ticket, if I could loan him the €40 for the ferry.
He promised he would wire me the money and it would be no problem.
I politely declined and left him stranded in Italy. At least for a bit.
Twenty minutes after I boarded the ferry I was feeling a bit guilty about just leaving him there until around the corner came Mr ‘Stranded’ American.
Apparently, his card worked just after I left. Just after I declined to loan/give a hefty amount of money to someone I just met. Nevermind the fact we had been trying his card at banks and ATMs all morning without any luck. Now it worked.
My spidey sense was going off.
We settled on the ferry and pushed off, me a little more wary of my fellow traveller than I had been before.
Night fell and in the early morning, I was awoken by the sound of Mr ‘Stranded’ American rustling his bags – apparently packing up. We were set to dock in Patras around noon and we were clearly not there yet.
I promised him we were not yet in Patras and he reluctantly went back to sleep.
In the morning, I realized had I not woken up, Mr ‘Stranded’ American would have gotten off the ferry alone at Igoumenitsa, a port in the very northwest of Greece – the complete opposite corner of Greece from his ultimate destination, Athens. Not only that, but he didn’t wake up anyone else and the other travellers we’d met on the ferry were also going to Patras.
Finally, in the early afternoon, we arrived in Patras. A few hours later than our scheduled arrival time, but that’s what I expected.
We parted ways and while we were both headed on to Athens, somehow he chose a different route and (thankfully) our paths never crossed again.
I left with my euros nicely in my wallet.
He left possibly seeking another overly generous, overly trusting traveller.
Good luck, Mr ‘Stranded’ American.
See more of my Grecian adventures here.