I’m on the completely full train to Milan. Already crossed the border to Italy. The weather is cloudy with some sunlight going through illuminating the valley that goes to Domodossola.
I’ve a strange feeling and ask myself if this is the type of travel I want to do right now. Just before I was paginating the Lonely Planet Eastern Europe, reading what I’ll not have the time to see or where I’ll not have the time to go. My feeling is not fear of missing out, rather a feeling of sadness about not being doing again a longer trip.
In Milan I’ll have 25 minutes to grab some food and change train. The next train lasts more than 7 hours.
Before depart I had booked the transport for today and a night train in the middle of the trip. Other transportation and sleeping will be on the go. The preparation for this trip was about finding timetables, bus and train connections, which would allow to take a glimpse of a city and go further.
The train arrived late to Milan and allowed me 13 minutes to get around. While in Zürich or Bern stations this is an eternity, in a unknown big train terminal it makes short. Managed to grab a sandwich and a bottle of water.
The Frecciarossa fast train is so far quite good. I took a supersaver business class ticket and have until now four leather seats only for me. Leaving Milan the train goes up to 300 km/h. As with cycling – much better than expected – I’m impressed with the service of the italian trains. For this long train trip there is a webportal with films, series, newspapers. As soon I sat down, a box with some commestible food and drink was delivered.
The train ride has been very quiet. Looking at the window, re-checking which sim card should I buy tomorrow. Exchanging messages with couchsurfing hosts concerning a lift over a border on Monday morning. And choosing where to eat today, before heading to the port. The train is running 13 minutes late, which is not a problem for the next connection.
I rethink about the message exchange over whatsapp just before. Sometimes we do not make effort to communicate clearly. I did two yes/no indirect questions in one whatsapp and got one unique binary answer without context. Would that reply apply to both questions or just to one, which? The questions should be clear and direct, better one per message. And is better to include the context of the question in the answers to assure it refers exactly to what the other person expects.
It was night when arrived to Bari. South of Italy reminds me of Portugal many years back, with a charming disorganization. A multicultural city where the common spoken language is Italian. After getting some pasta with seafood tartar and a cheesecake, I walk through the old town of Bari to the port.
Soon I see the huge boat from GNV which will take me to Dürres in Albania. Near the entrance building a man approaches me and asks if I’ve done the check-in. He offers to take me by “taxi” there, it is 4 km away he says. I refuse and go to the security control, which confirms, I need to get a shuttle bus to do the check-in. The bus should come in 10-15 italian minutes, just outside. After 15 minutes I decide to start to walk – I see it is 2 km away. The second car that I wave stops and offers to take me there. Luckly, as part of the way is forbidden to pedestrians. The check-in is in some lost containers. Show ticket on the phone, show ID, get a paper. The shuttle bus is there and takes me back.
After the security, the entrance to the huge boat is the ramp where at same time trucks get in backwards. The ferry has 10-floors, the old signs disclose it is an old second-hand Norwegian ship. (post-edit, the boat is 42 years old, and started in Sweden, then went to Norway, source Wikipedia)
The South-American Indian (
Bolivian, Peruvian? post-edit: they are Philippinos) looking crew takes my ticket, changes the cabin number it was assigned to me just 10 minutes before at check-in, and gives me a key. The cabin is cold and the air condition only has Chinese characters.
I imagined a much nicer boat – style the one between Finland and Sweden. Or between Korea and China. It is older than that. Most of the restaurants in the boat are closed. There are few dozens people hanging around, getting into their cabins.
It was a long day and the one I had the most time to write. Next Stop: Albania.