Waiting, forever waitingggg for a boat.
Well it's been a rough few days, literally. Been in the same clothes for 4 days, as my damp smelly soggy washed-but-not-dried clothes have ruined everything in my bag, and it took AGES for me to figure out the washing machine this morning. Hope to have clean clothes on by tonight, wooo! Now to find a market, or a Primark....
So it all started when I checked out of Hostel Fabric on Tuesday. Hung around there for a few hours then slowly made my way into Napoli and found the port. The English was getting worse the further south I got. Went to one ferry terminal and they said no, go to this other one. So I went but that was just for hydrofoils going local journeys, and they sent me back to the other terminal. Fed up, I sat in a cafe and managed to get a sandwich and a juice and phoned my mum for a moan!
Found a big ferry terminal building so climbed a huge, never-ending hill of stairs to find it completely deserted.
I plonked myself down on a bench to wait for civilisation to arrive. And arrive it did, a few hours later, in the form of Francis from San Francisco and his friend from Estonia. They were looking to book my boat for the next night, so accompanied me in the search for the ticket office, which we found a ten minute walk later! I showed my online booking reference and got my ticket, said goodbye to Francis and sat about for another two hours until I could board. It was lovley, being on a cruise ship. I've been so used to being around travellers in cheap accommodation, it was nice to be in a bit of luxuary. From my boat to Amsterdam, I remembered how rediculous the prices were, like 15 pounds for a meal etc....but this wasn't too bad. Paid 7.50 for a big plate of pasta and a bottle of water, which was nice after a day of small snacks and my emergency cereal bars! No one was very English speaking so I abandoned the thought of making a friend and sat in the bar with my headphones in, listening to my audiobook.
Finally on the boat!
I asked how much it would be to get a cabin, but it was another 30 euros and I just can't afford that. So I curled up in the one of the 'sleepers', basically a darker room with comfortable seats which recline a little. Using my towel as a blanket because it got really cold.
In the morning, I awoke to view the Sicilian sunrise, which was beautiful! Took a few snaps then hid away my camera to get off the boat. Found my way to the train station....all of this seems like a blurred memory now. No one spoke any English...such a horrible contrast to Rome where it was very English-speaking-tourist-friendly! Managed to ask a taxi driver where the train station was and thought fuck it, if it comes to a taxi, I'll get one.
But he just pointed me in a walking direction, which was nice. As it was about a 20 minute walk and he could have easily taken me for the fare, and ripped me off if he wanted to. Bought my ticket to Catania
for 11.50 euros and bought a magazine, in English, whoopee! Train journey was pleasant, no one bothered me and it was air conditioned. The Sicilian countryside is just wonderful, full of mountains and greenery, loads of sheep too. Reminded me of Scotland =)
About three and a half hour later, I arrived in Catania, and took a nice walk from the trainstation through a nice sunny street, following signs for the port, until I hit mayhem, tiny little paths, crazy drivers on busy streets, fruit sellers on every corner and mechanic shops everywhere.
'....with nothing out ahead of us but pure ocean.'
Saw a sign for McDonalds and sat myself down there for two hours. Mainly to feel some sense of security in a non-English speaking place. Got my McChicken Sandwich and these cheese and spinach croquette things which were lovley, but it was parmesan and the cheese was a little strong for my tastes. Found my way to the port and asked around, in Italian, for the 'bigletteria' (ticket office). Most just shrugged, but I mean come on, even if my Italian is rubbish, surely you get the idea? Aparently not. I wandered to a cafe and asked someone, who said there was NO ticket office at the port. I got very....cross shall we say, and close to tears. It was blisteingly hot and I had my huge backpack on. I eventually found a Malta ticket office, from VirtuaFerries. Not my company, Grimaldi, but if they were going to Malta, then I was there.
It was closed so I camped outside and sunbathed for an hour or two until the woman came to open it. She was good at her English, and told me that they only sail on a Saturday so I asked how to get to the Grimaldi office and she pointed me the right direction, about a 25 minute walk in the other direction. When I got there all the guy said was that I could get my ticket on the boat. Very helpful, sir!
Dejected, I sat in a small cafe with a bottle of water, trying to make it last the 9-odd hours I had to go. I got bored and thought that I'd go get money and go to McDonalds again then be back in the port before it got dark. (Boat left at midnight....) Insted I got two slices of Pizza, which were...alright. The tomato one was, and I got another which I thought was onion, but no.
Good morning, Sicily!
...some potato-like thing. Yuck. Ate them then bought a bottle of juice and read my book. Made my way over to the huge ship leaving for Napoli just as it was getting dark. It was busy and well lit and I didn't want to be sitting alone in the dark. Sat there singing to myself for an hour or so when a nice guy came up to me asking if I was boarding this ship, when I said no and said Malta (they pronounce it like Maaaahlta) he said my boat was in! It wasn't even 9pm yet and just dark! I thanked him and ran off to my ship....which looked like it was just for vehicles and goods transport. But someone said it was for Malta, so I was getting on it no matter what. Got talking to some people who spoke a little English and waited with them, when I heard some American voices and attatched myself to the lovley Nancy and.
Sicily in the morning.
..Robert I think his name was. They are from Florida, and a little older. They're on a 3 week holiday and spending their last 6 days in Malta. They stuck by me and when they were shown to their cabin she said she'd come find me later to make sure I was ok, which was really nice!
Just as I was getting myself checked in, someone behind me said, in a wonderfully familiar accent...'Excuse me, are you from Scotland?' wheee and right then and there I met Fraser, from Edinburgh, with cousins in East Kilbride. So good to hear a Scottish voice! He works as a teacher in Catania on a scholarship, with a Hungarian girl called Katta who was with him. They're also spending their last 5 days away cycling through Malta, sleeping on beaches, sounds good! I sat beside them while they had a beer and I had a coke and we played a word game Katta taught us, kinda like a complicated 20 questions.
Then I curled up on a chair in the bar, as did the others that didn't have a room, and tried to sleep. It was horrible, every time I drifted off, I'd wake up sharply to check my bag was safe. It would have been, coz I was cuddled into it, and Fraser left his phone on the table while he slept. So at 7am we got up and went outside to watch our arrival into Malta! It's so beautiful!
More on Malta in my next post!