If I ever see a ferry again for the rest of my life it will be too soon.
However, I’ll be boarding another one for Santorini in thirty-six hours, so I’m quickly going to have to recover from my Ferry Experience.
I suppose I must start at the beginning. This little story begins in a quiet area called Pompeii, my sole reason for visiting Naples. Pompeii was amazing. I didn’t know what to expect which made it even better, sometimes seeing pictures of places you’re going before you actually get there takes something away from it all. I had no real concept of Pompeii, how large it was and how complex and detailed the ruins were. I walked around the site for over four hours and still didn’t see everything, but managed to get inside the anicient amphitheatre where gladiator battles were staged which was fantastic.
Spent the evening then in Naples. And what an experience that was. I’d only really heard bad things about Naples but I was willing to give it a chance, and in retrospect I’m glad I did. Stepping outside of the station I was met with a six-road intersection without traffic lights. Cars were everywhere, some were parked in the centre, and a stereotypical little old Italian woman actually crossed the road diagonally. The cars all seemed to just go around her. It was total anarchy. There were no traffic lights (actually, there were a couple, but they were all turned off) and certainly no green men. I put off crossing the road for as long as I could and then employed the tactic of using a local as a human shield. Seemed to work well enough. I’m still here.
I really only went in to Naples to try the food – this was where pizza was invented. The pizza I got was huge, too big for the plate and therefore draped onto the table. I shared the table with a old Italian couple, who ordered large pizzas each but then a beer between them and poured it into little plastic cups for each other. I couldn’t help but stare. Even though I was extremely full I still managed to make room for gelati, ordering the only thing I knew in Italian, “chocoletto”. The two courses cost me a grand total of four euro.
Unfortunately the only photo I took in Naples was of my pizza. I was convinced that as soon as I took my camera out of my backpack which currently resembles Fort Knox I was bound to get hit over the head and wake up hours later in some mafia dude’s car boot.
The Ferry Experience got underway early the next day, and the ungodly hour of six o’clock, made even more ungodly due to spending half the previous night talking cricket to two guys from Sydney about to head over to the World Cup. I took two trains to Bari and then the scariest bus in the world, where the passengers staged a mutiny, screaming at the driver about God know’s what and at one point taking control of the steering wheel. I was happy when I saw my ferry, it looked like the Spirit of Tasmania, and the inside even featured a casino, club and a swimming pool.
The problem was my sleeping quarters. Technically, I didn’t have any, and was forced onto the deck. Probably lovely in summer, sleeping under the stars and all that jazz, but it had been pouring all day and the wind whipped through making it absolutely freezing. Didn’t help that everyone else on board used it as their smoking ‘room’.
I spent a few hours in what I thought was the warmest part of the deck, shivering and cursing my finances with a guy I met from Minnesota, before going for a wander and realising where everyone else on board was sleeping. No one seemed to have paid for a room, everyone slept on the floor, or on couches, or in our case, as all the good spots had been taken by the time we’d cottoned on to the whole operation, the stairwell.
‘Twas quite warm actually. Had my sleeping bag, used my daypack as a pillow, bear-hugged The Beast and popped my runners on top of it all, like a real live homeless person. Actually got a better sleep than on those overnight trains. I have photos as evidence.
Anyway. Not going to bore everyone with the details of how we managed to get to Athens, except that it took a long time and was, let’s say, a tad confusing. I liked the look of Greece from the start. The sun was shining (notice how my early opinions are usually formed by the status of the weather), the villages were quaint, and the train hugged the coast and gave picture-postcard views. Met a bunch of Americans and Australians as soon as I got in (all travelling solo) and we hit the town with our very own Greek guide (who worked at the hostel) who directed us to the best places to go.
Saw the Acropolis that night for the first time, all lit up and looming over the city. Had a much closer view today, climbing up to the top which offered amazing views of the city, as well as seeing the 1896 Olympic Stadium and haggling my way through the main market, getting my own Caitlyn necklace in Greek. Feel very much like a Greek Carrie Bradshaw now.
Food is also incredible – already had gyros, souvlaki and moussakas. Plenty more to try, though. Tomorrow more wandering time is on the agenda, as well as a visit to the 2004 Olympic Stadium. Then I’m off to Santorini, and have somehow managed to talk a bunch of people into coming along, too. Pressure’s on.