I must admit, one thing Greece has going for it is the ferry system. Apart from the ridiculous and inconvenient schedule, they are always punctual and spend a mere ten minutes at port unloading and reloading semi trucks, cars and passengers before they are on their way again. The Greeks don’t mess around and their ferrys mean business, unlike those of Croatia.
On Sunday morning mom and I went to the port in Bari to check the ferry schedule and purchase my ticket to Croatia. The terminal was dead. Note to self: never try to get anything done in Italy on a Sunday because everything is closed.
In addition, every travel agency was closed, so I decided to buy my ticket online but the ferry line forbade me from purchasing my day-of ticket on the Internet. Panic. This was another awesome ferry schedule that only came a few times a week and if I didn’t get the Sunday boat, I would have to wait until Wednesday night.
Luckily, when we arrived at the port that night, the ticket window was open and I got my fare. Mom befriended an Italian man waiting in line behind us and arranged for me to ride onto the boat with him in his car so I could avoid the security line. After he agreed, she immediately started regretting the decision to send me alone with an Italian we had just met onto a ferry boat…sounds super safe, right? It turns out he was a policeman (or so he said) and everything went smoothly.
The ferry was pretty ghetto. It consisted of five snackbar/restaurants with bright red carpet and a giant mural of an ice cream cone painted on the wall. Less than luxurious. Luckily, I bumped into a Canadian couple we had met earlier that day in Bari and we scoped out a few padded benches in one of the snack bars to stretch out on.
I was abruptly awaken from my slumber at four A.M. when a slew of italians invaded the snack bar for early morning espresso. Even though I had earplugs in, I still felt like I was trying to sleep in a Denny’s on a Sunday morning, and the Italian’s insistence to ignore the “indoor voice rule” and consistently speak at absurd decibel levels didn’t help.
The ferry finally docked at seven A.M. and I was greeted by a hillside covered in white houses with clay roofs and a drizzly Croatian morning.
I left the boat, hit the ATM and was waiting for the bus when a car drove by yelling, “hey lady!” It was the Canadians! They had found a man at the port who would rent them a room in his house and were enroute to the city. The man asked where I was staying and I told him it was a hostel called Fresh Sheets. “Ooh rash sheeets I know where that is, 100 meter from my house, I give you ride!” he replied.
I was a little weary about about the way he said “rash sheeets” and repeated the name while skeptically thinking, “I hope were talking about the same Fresh Sheets.” Oh well, it was bound to be an adventure.
He insisted on driving us around town and giving us a proper “orientation” before dropping us off. Finally, we arrived at my “hostel” which turned out to be a hotel called “Rashit.” I was worried this would happen. I wasn’t sure what to do the man was so helpful and I was appreciative of the free ride, but I was also now lost on my first day in a city I had never been to. I assured the man I could take the bus and find my way to the hostel no problem. Luckily, the hostel directions were good enough that I was able to find it without much trouble.
I was a little worried about being on my own for the first time, but everyone at the hostel was very welcoming and most of the guests were traveling alone also, so it has been easy to find friends to do day trips with. The city of Dubrovnik is part of the Dalmatian Coast and part of the city itsself (where I’m staying) is within castle walls.
Croatia is a gorgeous country, which I am becoming more and more obsessed with each day. My first thought was that it reminded me of the Oregon Coast. The country is clean, well organized, and everyone is calm (a nice change from Italy) and speaks English. It is hard to believe all of this comes from a country that was in a civil war just over a decade ago.