The reason this is even coming up is because we had to take a ferry across the Adriatic Sea to get to Croatia. For whatever reason, we couldn't get a direct flight from Italy to Croatia. Apparently this is not unusual, and in order to fly there, we would have had to have flown to Frankfurt, then to Croatia. I've heard you can get direct flights from Rome or Milan. We didn't have the option, and instead opted to take a ferry over. We've taken several ferries, some as short as half an hour, others that lasted 4-5 hours, and they are fun because it's always nice to be on a boat. This ferry ride, however, was going to 10 hours, and we were going to spend the night on it.
The ferry itself wasn't so bad on the outside, but once you got on, it was a little run down. The reality is, ferries are not usually designed for luxury and comfort, it's really all about getting from point A to B. They try to make it as nice as possible, but it ain't the Love Boat. It didn't help that I was reading a book about the struggle to survive on a lifeboat that was from a ship that had caught fire and sunk. It was grim and brutal, a la Titanic.
It is nonetheless exciting boarding a ship, especially big ones that seem like fortresses. As with all ferry's I've been on, you board the ship in the cargo hold, and then walk up a series of steps to get to the deck, where you can enjoy the ride in the fresh, briny air. When we checked in, the steward led us back down those very steps into the belly of the ship, where our room was. I kept think, "Oh man, we're in steerage." Those are the rooms that fill up first when the ship goes down, and I kept thinking of where our escape route was going to be. It ain't easy being neurotic and paranoid.
It was wishful thinking on my part to think that we were going to get a window, and our cabin was small and dark, but it was comfortable, and we were all together. AND, we had beds, for all that's worth. Most of the other passengers slept up in the coach cabin, which might not have been that bad except for the hundreds of other people, not to mention the lights and noise. The best thing about having a room is that you have a place to leave your bags, which can be a burden when you're in transition. The kids were excited about sleeping in the cabin, it reminded them of a submarine.
R purchased a hot supper with our ticket, so we headed up the restaurant and had a nice meal. Then again, I'm not picky, and like airline food. It was a big, four course deal, complete with appetizer, salad, spaghetti with meat sauce (ragu), steak frites, and dessert. I, for one, enjoyed it, though R thought it was way too much food, and we even told the waiter to give us only three entrees. During our meal, the boat was still docked at the port, so we weren't moving. When we finished, we headed to the top deck to watch the launch.
The boat took off around 9:00, and it's always fun to watch the port fade in the distance. What's amazing is when you think about how fast (or slow) the boat is going, and how much distance it has to cover, it sort of boggles your mind. After about an hour, we retired to our cabin to try to get some sleep. As I mentioned, the cabin was tiny, but cozy, and we cleaned up and got ready. The bathrooms weren't the most pristine, even by my lax standards, but the ones upstairs were nicer, so we cleaned up and went to bad. It was pitch black in the cabin.
At some point, maybe around 4:00AM, there was this horrendous noise, and it became clear that not only was our room close to the cargo hold, but it was adjacent to the engine. I'm guessing the put the peddle to the metal to make better time. It was so noisy in our room, and I couldn't sleep from that point onward. I don't think I was alone.
The go around and wake people up at 6:00AM for breakfast, but we were all dressed up and ready to go by 5:00. The steward was surprised to see us. We went up for breakfast in zombie mode, we were all so tired, but it was a nice morning, and I was just happy to have arrived in Split, which I may have mentioned the palace of the Emperor Diocletian of Rome is located. We got off the boat at 7:00AM and had to catch another ferry to Hvar, but had several hours to pass before our departure.
It was hard to function properly with so little sleep, and we were in a foreign port where they didn't speak English. We had to find a place to leave our bags, get some food/coffee, get a SIM card for our cell phone so we could call the hotel to pick us up in Hvar, and finally, get our ferry tickets to Hvar. Piece cake, right?
Well, as it turns out, functioning in Split was a lot easier than we anticipated. People are very friendly, most of them speak some level of English, the town is really cool. I mean really cool. It didn't hurt that the weather was beautiful, but more on this later.
Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to RIC for the pics.