We make our way from Los Locos to the Durrës port with lots of time to get this ferry boarding thing figured out. We follow signs towards check-in. There’s an obnoxiously long, switchback walkway that takes us to the terminal. The line isn’t so bad when we get there and we file to the front with our tickets and passports at the ready. It’s an easy check-in and we’re in the waiting area before security.
“Ferry beers?” “For sure. Want me to hold our place in line and you go scout it out?” “Yep.”
The security line is moving slowly giving MacKay lots of time to bounce around the terminal options to find some beers to go. He joins back up with a bag of goodies and we get to the front by the metal detector. The security guy asks for our tickets again but MacKay has already put them away somewhere. While he’s looking the guard asks, “Where from?” “Canada.” “Ok, just go.” “Ahhh ok, yep.”
We place our bags on the conveyor and go through the metal detector. I set it off and then MacKay comes immediately after and also sets it off. We both spin around expecting a redo or the arms out pat down. The security guy is just shaking his head, “It’s ok, just go. Just go.” Some top notch security there, guess they aren’t too worried about Canadian terrorists.
After security there is a massive loading line that we couldn’t see from the other side. Here’s where the waiting really begins. It’s super hot too and I’m sweating through my clothes for the third or fourth time today. “Wonder if we have a shower in our room.” “Doubtful.” “Glad we got here early-ish, things are crawling along.”
Ahh it’s because there is still another security check before we go out to the boat. They’re checking passports again, I hand mine over. New Security Guy looks up at me and boisterously exclaims, “Jonathan Murphy, oh my god! How are you, sir!” Haha well this guy is awesome. “I’m great, thanks.” “Where have you been?” I list out a handful of countries. “Wow. By car or how?” “Buses and trains mostly.” “Sounds like an amazing time. Have a great trip and enjoy Italy!” “We will. Thanks!”
We get through and walk across the dock to our vessel, the AF Francesca.
We board the Francesca and get to a reception stand on the bottom level. There is a total goddess standing there with a clipboard. She takes my ticket and flips to the front. Her face lights up. “Canada. Oh I love this country! Send me a present from there.” “Yeah, you got it. I’ll ship it to the boat.” “Please do! Have a nice trip!”
We take the stairs following signs for check-in. “Man everybody is pumped!” “Yeah, this is hilarious.” “That girl was digging you.” “In another life I would live on this ferry with her.”
We get up to check-in and they give us a key and directions to our room. “Enjoy the trip!” We’ve got Cabin 184 on the 6th floor.
Our room is great. Shitter, shower and bunk beds. Perfect. I immediately hit the shower and change into some clean clothes. Ahhhh.
“Whelp. First thing’s first.” “Find the bar?” “Correct.”
We head out to investigate the ship.
Not much happening. We find a bar but it’s mostly filled with people trying to sleep. “Don’t see it getting too rowdy in here.” “If you don’t get a cabin I suppose you just post up at a conference chair in the bar and lay down.”
We go up to the bartender and check our options. “Heading to Italy so maybe 2 negronis?” “Ahh negroni is too expensive I think. At least 12 euro. I think you want something else maybe.” “Alright, how about 2 gin and tonic.” “Yes. That is 12 euro.” “Ahh… Ok.” Guessing this guy doesn’t know how to make a negroni.
We take our G&Ts to do some more scouting. There are some open areas filled with families setting up makeshift sleeping arrangements. There’s a restaurant and snack bar but they’re both closed (it’s around 2130 at this point). We also find a ‘French’ restaurant but everything looks not French (except the fries) and is super overpriced. “Yes I’ll have the French fries please and you’re most expensive bottle of wine.”
Aaaand looks like that’s about it. I guess an international waters casino vibe was a little much to expect. No one else giving off the I’m-on-an-adventure-let’s-chat vibe either. Mostly families and business-types crossing the Adriatic.
We finish the drinks and go back to the room to grab some boat beers.
“Guess we’re the only ones that thought to get beers for the trip.” “Looks that way.” “Off to Italy. Cheers.” “How do they say cheers in Italian?” “Hmmm salute, maybe?” “That’ll work. Gambai!”
We chill on the deck until the ferry starts moving. We try to think up some more Halloween costume ideas. “Godfather?” “Mario and Luigi with cardboard karts and banana peels?” “Could go as that classic da Vinci diagram with arms and legs sticking out.” “Go around Rome snapping mannequin arms and legs off shop displays to build a costume haha.” “Lol. Have a rip cord you could pull that extends and retracts them.” “Um, this actually sounds awesome!” “Best one yet, for sure.”
We have done zero research on where we’ll go and things to do once we get to Italy. No reception here on the docks either so that sounds like a job for future us at a bar in Bari.
“I’ve never been to Southern Italy. Could get to Naples, I suppose.” “Pompeii on the way?” “Oh ya, for sure Pompeii. That would be sick. Amalfi Coast maybe. Ya I dunno.” “Just have to get there and figure it out.” “The usual.” “Not much to do on this boat. Probably just shut her down soon.” “Yep. Might as well.”
We head back to the cabin and get our bunks set up and cozy. MacKay is reading the Road to Oxiana for the six hundredth time.
I’m climbing up into the top bunk and the ladder is bending like crazy. “Whoa dude that is really bending.” “Yep. Sure is.” “Ahh I don’t like this at all.” “You claustrophobic?” “Not really but it is slanting a bit.” “The bed? It’s fine, probably regulated for 300 pounds or something.” “Yeaaaaaaaaaah I dunno.” “You calling me fat, bro?!” “No but I sure don’t want your fat ass crashing on top of me in the middle of the night.”
The Francesca is a good distance into the middle of the Adriatic Sea now. The movement of the boat is making me sleepy. MacKay is already out. The bunks are surprisingly comfortable. My phone dings. Wha… I have service in the middle of the Adriatic? Maybe we’ve crossed into Italy. Hmmm suppose I could look up some shit to do in Bari… Nah. That’s a problem for future us. Catch some boat zzzzzzzs.