When you travel young, you usually travel cheap. And that’s just what Alicia and I did when we decided that on the day after graduation, we’d be heading to Europe. Alicia and I bought our youth Eurail passes, which are a great deal for anyone under 25.
Alicia and I then used the “rail” map to determine our route. We picked which cities we wanted to see, which ones we wanted to spend more time in, and what direction we would travel. We decided on counterclockwise, starting and ending in Madrid.
We elected to travel by train except for a few jaunts when we would be crossing the Mediterranean, Aegean and Adriatic Seas by ferry. The first was a trek from Barcelona to Civitavecchia to catch a train to Rome. When Alicia and boarded in the evening, I expected us to have a person showing us in the right direction.
As we chatted with two guys from the UK, we noticed the bar filling up with men–and smoke. There were tons of men, lots of dirty and stinky men.
We had no clue where to go or what to do. We ended up finding a bar and sitting down for a beer. As we chatted with two guys from the UK, we noticed the bar filling up with men–and smoke. There were tons of men, lots of dirty and stinky men.
As the only two females in the bar area, we suddenly noticed that we were getting too much attention, and not the welcome kind. Stares and whispers were abundant. The two travelers we had paired up with were young backpackers like ourselves, and they helped make the situation a bit more comfortable.
What was going on? Where were all the women?
The backpackers explained to us that this ferry was used specifically to transport tractor-trailer trucks, and their drivers, across the Mediterranean to Italy. All of the trucks were stored below, and all of the men hung out at the bar and rested above. It was all starting to come together.
At this point, we still hadn’t met a crewmember beside the bartender, and had no clue where we were supposed to be crashing for the night. When it became late and we still couldn’t find anyone, Alicia and I pulled out our bedding and found some benches.
For bedding, we each had a full size sheet that we had folded in half and sewn up on two sides so that it could function as a sleeping bag. They ended up being nice and cool in the hot muggy Mediterranean air, and the hallway was long and dark. I slept decently that evening, even though the benches were less than ideal.
In the morning, we woke up to hundreds of people standing by our benches in hoard, talking and bustling around like there weren’t two people sleeping right next to them. Alicia and I pulled ourselves together to figure out what was going on. We were at port in Sicily. All of these people were waiting to go out of the door and off the boat. Not my favorite way to wake up!
As the only two females in the bar area, we suddenly noticed that we were getting too much attention, and not the welcome kind.
Alicia and I ended up finding the deck and spending the rest of the day journaling and soaking up a little bit of sun. It wasn’t a cruise-style ship, but there were a few chairs, as well as a place to get a burger, but no condiments. The breeze on the deck was cold, but the sun felt nice and the inside of the ferry was too smoky and dingy to want to go back inside.
The day passed slowly, and we had planned on meeting our friend in Rome when we got off the train around 7 PM. The sun started to set and it became too cold to sit on deck so we moved inside and kept an eye on the clock. 7 PM came and went and it seemed that we still had some time to go before docking. Several hours later, they announced over the speakers that we were docking and could soon get off of the ferry.
Eventually we were able to get on dry land, and although we had an extremely uncomfortable trip across the Mediterranean, we made it safely with a Eurail pass and around eight euros. You really can’t beat that kind of a deal!
Originally published on Pink Pangea