Deciding to take the ferry was a decision I made out of convenience, economy and most of all, curiosity. I’d been on plenty of ferries before (including several on this trip in Cinque Terre and Lake Como), but never for more than a couple of hours and I had never been on a cruise ship. This ferry promised to be a combination of a cruise ship and a ferry, departing from Venice and arriving 33 hours later in the Greek port of Patras.
In Venice, I saw several large ferries and hoped that Anek Lines also departed from the Port of Venice. However, this is not the case and Anek Lines departs from the Fusina Terminal, located back on Italy’s mainland. However, there is a small shuttle ferry that travels back and forth once an hour, since many people live there and work in Venice or stay there during their visit to Venice (it is significantly cheaper). After walking about a half an hour to the station, I got on a small ferry across to Fusina. About 25 minutes later, we landed there, and I was still hopeful that the Anek office would be close. No such luck. The Anek Lines ferry was docked about a 30-minute walk from where I was. With no taxi or shuttle bus to be found, I had no choice but to saddle up my stuff and get to walking. I cursed how much stuff I had and remembered what I heard somewhere that no matter how little stuff you think you have, it’s always too much in Europe.
Once I finally arrived at the station, check-in was pretty painless. I had arrived early as the directions on my ticket said to be there at least two hours before the scheduled departure. After a quick security check, I was on the boat. I decided to do a little exploration before it got too crowded. I just got a seat (no cabin), but I had access to all the other parts of the ship, including the top deck, bar/restaurant and common areas. I was a little disappointed there wasn’t a swimming pool as the internet promised, but everything else looked great.
We were scheduled to depart at noon. About 12:30, there was an announcement that the port was too crowded and we would depart at 15:30 Grecian time (we were also informed that Grecian time was valid on the boat). Settling in for a delay, I started reading my second book of the trip (the first was already 90% finished when I got on the boat). Four hours and the finished book later, we finally departed from Fusina (Venice). A few hours in, I decided to check on the internet. However, I was informed that they were out of internet cards and I couldn’t get online. Oh boy, this might be a long journey. I finished my second full book of the trip and went to bed.
Similar to a long plane or train ride, there was a sensation of movement even though you couldn’t always feel it, you knew it was there. Occasionally, the boat would shift to remind you that you are not on stable land anymore. This is similar to turbulence, catching you off guard and making you stumble a bit and your stomach do a little flip the first time. Watching the sunset on the top deck, I could empathize with early explorers – nothing to be seen in any direction but water that seemed to drop off the edge of a flat planet.
The seating arrangement was pretty loose, with everyone claiming several seats. At any time, there were people napping on the floor, across multiple seats or even sitting up. The quest for comfort was a no-holds-barred quest, with people sleeping on whatever they could find. If I ever do this again, I’ll bring a pillow.
The food on the ferry was similar to a high school cafeteria. The line was self-serve and options from hamburgers to pasta and salads was available. While it was nothing special, it was a good break from the cheese and crackers I’d brought. I finished my third book. I napped. I wrote postcards. I finished a fourth book. I napped. I ate. Started a fifth book.
Finally, we arrived in the port of Patras about 12:30 am. At this point, I was very glad that I decided to book a slightly nicer room in Patras to recover from the ferry journey. After calling a taxi (I joined up with two other travelers headed into town), I arrived at my hotel a little after one. As you can imagine, I was quite happy to have access to my own shower, a proper bed, and of course, the int
ernet (not to mention ground that didn’t move under my feet). Next stop is my home for the next three and a half weeks, in the Southern Peloponnese where I will be staying and working with a Greek family.