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Published: June 27th 2014
Taking a Ferry from Italy to Greece
If it can go wrong it will
Yes, just a little disorganized. Our plan was to take the Ferry from Bari Italy to Durres in Albania. But, before we made reservations we got advice from our traveler friends from Munich that the ferry line we had chosen was not too dependable. They recommended we take the “superfast” ferry from Bari to Igoumenitsa Greece. “Much better”. Hmmmmm!!! With that we reserved a “Camper Special” fare that allowed us to sleep in our camper while it crossed the Adriatic Sea. This meant we would be put on the “Open Deck”. Great, we have the cheapest way to go and we don’t have to sleep in a hot stateroom. What could possibly go wrong?
problem; we never received a confirmation from the ferry company. We sent multiple emails with no response. We called them and got no answer. We began to wonder if somehow we had not booked correctly. But a look at the website showed we had done what we could and we did get a bank confirmation that our VISA card transaction had gone through. With a bit of concern,
we left Sicily a day early “just in case”. We drove across Reggio Calabria in southern Italy. It turned out to be a wonderful meander through what is usually seen as “the poor part of Italy”. It certainly did not feel poor. We did encounter someone walking horses with his truck. 10 seconds after we took the photo, the horse reared up, broke his rope and flipped over backward. That must have hurt. Later that day we came to a place called Locotorondo. It was a quaint, almost Greek in architecture place full of stone walled fields and interesting conical shaped roofs on all the houses. The camping sites were just wonderful, located on the Adriatic shore with good seafood restaurants and excellent white wines. You should all know that we have long believed that life is short and therefore you should not drink bad wine. We don’t…hardly ever and only by mistake.
Any way, we arrived in Bari early. The Ship was to board at 8PM (2000 European time) leave at midnight and arrive in Greece at 0600 (6AM). We were in the ticket office at 1230 (noon+). We showed the ticket person our bank confirmation, she looked
up the number and asked if we were the Casey’s. YES!!! we are, Mike said with a big sigh of relief. As we got all our tickets (1 per person and 1 for the camper) and 3 corresponding “security cards” Mike explained why we were so happy and that we had tried to connect with the company by email and phone with no response. She said calmly “well the company is Greek so that is how they are, they do not care much”.
We decided to stick with our camper and wait till 8PM for boarding. Had great Panini and beer for lunch and read our books. We were parked next to a guy from London and talking when folks began to move their cars to a line and trucks were arriving and lining up. He said, well we better line up. But it was only 1730 (5:30 PM). Not ones to take a chance, we got in line. As we entered the line, one dock loader guy motioned us forward of the line…not sure why. Another guy checked our security passes with his barcode reader and then a second guy took our tickets and tore off the bottom
part just before he said “WAIT!!! Do you want to sleep in your camper?” We said yes and that is what we paid for. “Well you have the wrong tickets for the open deck so go back to the ticket office and get the right ticket”. Maintaining our cool, we backed up, turned around and drove back to the ticket office. We got stopped because the driving is only one way. We backed up, Kate got out and walked the rest of the way while Mike stayed with the camper. 30 minutes later she came back with new camper ticket and a big sign saying “Camping on board”. Now with 2 signs on the camper (one for open deck and one for Igoumenitsa) we drove back to the loading line. We waited till we were called and started the security thing again. Damn if the security guy said the barcode reader now would not accept our camper security code. YES!!! Back to the ticket office for a new security card for the camper and the ticket guy told us to get the tickets clipped back together so he could tear them apart properly. Really ??? Mike was no longer polite
but we won’t write what he said.
Yep, back to the ticket office but only for 20 minutes this time. It was now 1900 and we drove back to the line. Finally we were allowed to board and get parked on the ferry by a guy who kept yelling at us in German (our camper has German license plates and everyone talks to us in German). Mike finally got him to understand we spoke English and then he just kept yelling in louder German. Finally Mike parked it himself and turned it off and stared at the German yeller with his “evil eyes”. The guy gave up and walked away.
10 minutes later we were surrounded by vehicles bound for Patras, the last Ferry port but not ours. Our only concern was how to push them out of the way when we needed to get off or maybe just play along and go to Patras. Turns out there were about 25 Bulgarian criminals (well maybe) parked next to us and they were going to our port. S0 we could follow them.
Remember we said the ferry left at midnight and boarded at 2000. Nope! It boarded at
1730 and left the dock at 2000. We had damn near missed it without ever knowing it. We checked the website and the hours we had planned on were still there. Maybe the guys in Greece really do not care and the Italians just can’t seem to get organized.
And oh yes! We landed at 0500 not 0600 so the alarm went off in our camper while we were supposed to get ready to debark. We made it off that damn boat and drove as far from the ferry as we could get so that we could take a nap before the next adventure in Albania.
And that would prove to be one we never planned on….More on that later.
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