Thursday, May 7, 2009

the neverending journey

well that was a very very very long trip, and i will try to catalouge it's wonders and perils but first let me apolagize for any terrible typos or odd symbols which may crop up throughout this post, as i am typing on a very small computer, and the keyboard is italian and therefore things are in odd unexpected places and the @ symbol was near impossible to locate!
so, my journey of a thousand and one adventures began tuesday morning at the charming hour of quarter to seven when i rose and gathered my scattered belongings, checking under the bed for odd socks hiding in a desperate bid for freedom from the stifling confines of my backpack, then made my was to the desk and met up with my three companions, the 'epic' british trio of steff, sarah and rachel with whom i would be traveling for the duration of the arduous athens to rome undertaking, i must express my unbelievable joy at their adoption of me, as this trip would have become unbearable if faced without a shred of human company. i may have been reduced to conversations with inanimate objects just for the need to exersize my vocal cords. which would be a distinct sign of maddness i suppose.
anyway i digress. we made our way to the train station, and validated our tickets (though they were not checked once) then sat on the platform in our first instalment of waiting. the train was only about five minutes late, and uneventful once we elbowed our way to a set of four seats together and struggled our enormous rucksacks into the overhead bins, concious for the entire duration that they may fall on our heads at any moment. we setled in, ate strawberry jelly with a shared spork and generally goofed around, already in a smoldering daze of early morning and a knowledge of the number of hours still streaching out in front of us. an endless road. or fellow passengers eyed us with suspision and distain throughout the day, we were to go more and more travel-mad as the time progressed. but at least we entertained ourself. and after just four hour and one connection we made it to the greek port, checked in and got our boarding passes without incident, then made our way to the ferry terminal and shoved all of our luggage into the storage lockers, which we were disturbed to notice, could easily have fit a person.
we wandered the town, ate at a cafe called "fingers" which had all of the dishes names in english and the description in greek. i had nachos and aparently there is no greek translation for sour cream. they were tastey, but heavy on the tomatos, which were just pieces in stead of the normal salsa. we played on a swingset in a park we stumbled across, and i attempted to climb a tree covered in a tantalizing array of oranges but failed to aquire anything but a skinned shin.
finally at four we walk to the ferry and retrieved our luggage, to board the ship, even though it didn't depart until six we figured we might as well settle ourselves in as there was not really anything else to do in that town. we had got deck seats as they were the least expensive and we were all very tight in the budget, but were directed to the airplane seat lounge by a suited boy we all decided upon settling we loved desperately. this was distinctly better than sitting on the deck in the cold throughout the night, plus these seats cost twice as much and then some than our tickets. but the ferry was nearly empty and so i guess they figured we might as well benefit. and we did. we took a row in front of the lovely flat screen tv where we could streach out our legs and not touch the wall, our baggage strew haphazardly about our feet, and made ourselves immensly comfortable. we read, listened to music and discussed the troubles with book to movie translations, eating ricecakes and tszeki until the boat departed. we organized our possesions and each claimed a row of seats, which, when we raised the armrests, formed a bed on which one could comfortably recline, and laid out makeshift pillows and blankets.
on a bathroom excersion into the depths of ship beyond our cove of tranquilty and cushy seats i discovered a shower to the delight of all. and what a shower it was! this i would like to point out was the best shower i have had since leaving new zealand and definatly hands down the best in europe, most likely not to be beat. which says both sad things about the state of european showers and really good things about the superfast ferry services facilities. the shower was generously sized with a wall-mounted (as opposed to handheld) high-pressure and fully hot shower. it was also extrordinarily clean. then, after we had each showered ourselves into bliss, we clambered into our makeshift beds and promltly fell asleep. and i slept from about 10:30 until nearly eight the following morning, only waking once near midnight when the ship stopped, i believe it was at korfu to let on and off passengers who made rather a lot of noise, rustling and zipping to their hearts content until i was able to drift off again. and we woke all full of smiles, amazed that such a dreaded journey could posess such amazing comforts and a decent night sleep of all things, something never acheived on an airplane of that i am sure. and we disembarked to find that no one was interested in checking our passports (odd) and that we had to walk nearly a mile just to get to the bus station to get into town. and we made it to the train station discover that the four hour journey from bari to rome cost five times the four hour journey in greece for some incomprehensible reason. it was distressing in it expense but unfortunatly unavoidable, but made us feel that the train must at least be glorious to justify the cost. we called it the champagne train for the next few hours while we lingered in a cafe with all our luggage (storage at the train station was 5 euro per bag! which is just preposterous) taking turns walk i pairs around the park. it was lovely. 22c with just a hint of breeze. and the italian men were admiring of us in a gentle way in comparison to the aggressive greeks who you felt near to attacked by. the rode by on bicylcles murmering 'bella' and 'you are perfect' and we decided this could quite swell ones head if maintained for any amount of duration. and we drank strawberry milkshakes in the sun and decompressed from our ferry, organizing our plans for rome in anticipation of our arrival. seeing the end in sight.
unfortunatly the final four hours of train dragged inexorable onward, minutes streaching on like hours. until we arrived at the main roman terminal exhaused and hunch-backed and just wanting to crash. and we parted ways until our rendevous the following day, them to their flat downtown and me to my hostel. the yellow, which thankfully was near the terminal but uunfortunatly did not have laundry as they had advertised but mearly an agreement with a laundramaut down the street which charged an alarming fee to wash and dry my clothes, however i had no choice, having nothing to wear that wasn't unbelievable filthy. and so i sat at a cafe reading victorian liturature and trying to figure out my plans for italy but failing to be able to concentrate, mostly sitting and people watching until i was able to pick up my enormous bag of laundry, wondering at how it had possibly fit into my backpack.
overall i was a bit disturbed that the unbelievably long version of athens to rome ended up being barely less costly than the minimal and simple flying version, but it was a fun sort of adventure, and great to undertake such a massive chunk of travel with the comforts of a group rather than on my own. i really don't even like to contemplate the terrible loneliness of 37 hours of travel solo. but as it was, it was by far comunally decided to be the most enjoyable journey any of us had been on from one place to another. so the keys to a good country to country travel seem to be this; find someone else taking the same route and latch on to them, bring an unbelivable amount of snacks, make friends with the ferry staff, be freindly and they may sneakily upgrade your seats, and keep an eye peeled for unexpected showers. and take time off inbetween long journeys as they are draining. over all i think it could fairly be described as epic. yes i should say it was a historic way to make my approach to italy, all it needed was a little bit of fanfare and some carpets rolled out. and maybe a parade. yes i like a good parade.

1 comment:

  1. I especially love the "you are perfect" That was your parade...........and you are xoxoxoxoxoxoxo