Ode to the ferry fairy

Trip Start Apr 19, 2009
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Trip End Dec 20, 2009


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Flag of Greece  , Epirus,
Friday, November 27, 2009

First ferry experience: Wadi Halfa (Sudan) – Aswan (Egypt): approx: 350km

To put it bluntly, the ferry from Wadi Halfa to Aswan is little more than a floating vessel on which people are let loose.

Tickets:
You need to be at the port two days before the weekly ferry leaves to organise your ticket

Departure procedure:
Passengers are requested to be at the boat about five hours before it is scheduled to leave. The five hours are very necessary, as the border formalities, filling out of numerous Arabic documents and other arbitrary checks take as much time in the chaos of the boarding. The only way to navigate this confusion is by employing two expensive fixers.

ETD (estimated time of departure):
The boat leaves with about an average of one or four hours delay.

Passenger areas:
People generally lie around on deck or sit on the steps leading down to the engine room. There is a very dingy area below deck where the one meal of passage is served…luckily we still had a package of biscuits. Water ran out after a couple of hours….

ETA (estifmated time of arrival):
The ferry is scheduled to take 17hours. We ended up being on board for 23 hours - from boarding to departure. Three of these hours being spent squeezed between hundreds of sweating people trying to push through the exit door, heavily guarded by some ill-tempered soldier with a massive, loaded G3.

Car:
Vehicles are not allowed on the passenger ferry and arrive two days later on a very rickety cargo barge. Getting the vehicle through customs requires another two to three days and more nerves – not to mention baksheesh (bribes).

Second ferry experience: Nuweiba (Egypt) – Aqaba (Jordan): approx: 70km

The ferry here is actually an old Danish ship that used to do cruises in the northern waters. It is way past its former life but much like 'Miss Havisham' in ‘Great Expectations’ hangs onto its past.

Tickets:
We arrive in the morning and are able to purchase tickets for the ferry across the Gulf of Aqaba in the late afternoon.

Departure procedure:
We only wait about two hours before being allowed to drive onto the ferry and move up the passenger areas.

ETD:
The ferry leaves with a moderate 30 minute delay. We are in awe at this new efficiency

Passenger areas:
There are relatively comfortable restaurants to hang out in. Drinks and food are available in huge quantities and nearly make up for the overflowing toilets.

ETA:
We arrive at our destination with only three hours delay.

Car:
Once at the port in Aquaba, we drive off the ferry, are waved to the correct building by a friendly (still heavily armed) Jordanian solider and are able to finish the border formalities within the next two hours, whilst our car is x-rayed.

Third ferry experience: Igoumenitsa (Greece) – Bari (Italy): approx 300km

Superfastferries is a company deserving of its name.

Tickets:
We arrive at the port at 23:00 and try our luck in getting tickets for the next day’s ferry. A very friendly and efficient ticketing lady informs us that, if we wish, we can also take the ferry leaving that evening at 24:00 i.e. in one hour. We gulp and grab our tickets.

Departure procedure:
We find the quay of our ship and drive on.

ETA:
The ship leaves 24:00 on the dot

Passenger areas:
The ship is brand new, there are thick luxurious carpets on the floor and we just manage to resist the temptation to remove our dusty shoes. Numerous bar and lounge areas are available for passengers to enjoy a beverage from the very extensive menu. The first palatable white wine in ages goes down well as we consider our new and very modern environment. A cinema, casino, restaurant, wifi, pool and dancing area are also available to pass the time if you so wish. The kind lady at the ticket office also happened to give us a cabin for the price of a deck passage. On board, a very friendly and gallant gentleman shows us to our room (please note the word "us". Since leaving Tanzania humans of the female sex have been pretty much invisible. I nearly blushed at the sudden attention of being addressed as a human). Our cabin door magically unlocks by pushing our ferry tickets into a slot. Very cool all this sudden technology. Marvin and I try to keep our composure when we see the cabin and then whoop in unison. Not only are there white sheets and soft down blankets on the beds, but we also have our very own bathroom complete with a bleach white shower. Within seconds the warm water pours over my head – the cleanest and most pleasant shower of the trip.

ETA:
After a lovely long sleep and the first cappuccinos we arrive on the dot in Bari.

Car:
Minutes after docking we drive off the ferry and are heading towards the centre of town for some sight-seeing.

What an experience! Welcome to Europe.
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Comments

d.hemmer
d.hemmer on

Welcome hearty
from your auntie

Frank Hammacher on

Oh nein, Sie kommen immer näher! :-) Gruss aus Dorstfeld ihr beiden...
Ach und nochwas, Marvin wenn du durst hast, Bier steht bei mir im Kühlschrank;-)

Bärbel Fourie on

Hurrah, nach stundenlangem Suchen habe ich den Bericht gefunden und nun wieder stundenlang gelesen. Ich gratuliere zu dem erfolgreichen Abenteuer. Hoffentlich gibt es in Deutschland nun Weiße Weihnachten. Alles, alles Gute!
Frohe Weihnachten und viele Gute Wünsche zum Neuen Jahr!
Bärbel Fourie aus Kleinmond

Ute Oltmanns on

Eure Abenteuer zu lesen macht mir viel Freude, und hat definitiv mein Fernweh wieder erweckt. Viel Spass in Europa, ich drueck euch die Daumen fuer eine weisse Weihnacht.
Liebe Gruesse aus Adelaide
Ute

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