Day 79 Bari, Italy to Dubrovnik, Croatia

fullsizeoutput_54b9It is hard to find words to describe last night’s experience of the Jadrolinija ferry from Bari to Dubrovnik. Well actually, that’s unfair – once actually on the ferry things went according to plan – it was getting onto the ferry that was one of the most farcical experiences we have ever had. Granted, it had been pretty tricky getting the ferry from Barcelona to Rome, just because the Spanish thought it would be fun not to sign to foreigners where it departed from. But once we had asked more than thirty people where to go, it worked out reasonably well. The Sicily ferries were incredibly efficient and well run, and the ferry from Portsmouth to Santander was positively dreamy.
But last night, Howard and I thought we had been put on the set of a horror movie. We found the port easily enough, and congratulated ourselves on finding the correct area to check in, but after, that it all went wrong. We had arrived in good time, since our ticket said last registration was two hours prior to sailing, like an airport. The lovely Italian lady on the desk, who spoke good English implied that was just a tactic to scare you, and in fact, no-one was allowed to drive the two kilometre port road to the ferry until it was less than two hours to sailing. She told us to wait in the car park, and that at 7pm precisely, we were to drive towards the ferry. It all seemed so terribly clear.
Feeling relaxed, shortly after 7, Howard, along with several others, started driving towards the exit of the holding car park. At this point, a little man with a clip board popped up and said ‘No, no – wait for announcement’ or the equivalent in Italian. Fair enough. So we sat, and we waited, and we fidgeted, and after a while began to wonder why there was no announcement. I spoke to a young Italian lady in the next car, who was equally puzzled, but by this time there was no sign of my English speaking check-in lady to help. Eventually, gone 8 o’clock, I started fretting. I found a man with another clip board and showed him my ferry tickets. He looked alarmed. ‘Go! Go!’ He shrieked, implying we should have been there an hour ago.
We duly drove the two kilometres, passed a man at a barrier who checked our tickets, and then a little further on, another man directed us and about ten other vehicles to pull over, form a queue and wait. Meanwhile, all the other cars and lorries coming from behind us whizzed straight past us and were put in the queue for the ferry. After fifteen minutes or so, everyone in our queue started getting out of their vehicles and questioning why we were sat here waiting. By now it was less than half an hour ’til our ferry left. The Swiss man in his camper van, and an Italian in a car waved arms and shook their heads. After another ten minutes I spotted another clip board type, and leapt out and showed him our ticket. ‘Si, si, that is fine. Stay there’. Nine o’clock came – the time we should have been sailing – still in the queue.
At 9.30pm, we are moved to a queue that appeared to be for another ferry. I say queue in the loosest possible terms – it was a five line bevvy of revving vehicles, all trying to squeeze through one tiny gap – an Italian queue. We had clearly spotted our ferry in the distance, and knew this big white one wasn’t ours. Howard sighs, ‘Well, if we do get on a ferry to Croatia tonight, it wont be the right one, and we wont have a cabin’. Then an ambulance pushed past. Then a coastguard. Then a large van was sent back and had to reverse it’s way through the melee. Then, as we eventually got to our turn in the gap, an Italian border policemen with a big gun came to check our passports. ‘All this for passport control?!’ we thought
We were let through. We go to drive on the ferry. Lots of men shout out in the darkness -‘No,no!” We are waved in another direction towards another ferry. ‘No!’ Someone else shouts with their hand in the air. Eventually, in the far distance, we see a man waving at us, by the ferry we had originally had thought was ours. So we whizz across the tarmac, and go to drive on. ‘No” shouts an elderly fat man in a fluorescent jacket. ‘Over there’. ‘Over where?!!” He concluded we’re idiots, and offers to show us. So now, the rather unfit looking ‘Fat Controller’ runs besides Oscar and points us to park about 50 yards away. We do as we are told. At this point, he notices that some of the other vehicles who had come ahead of us, had parked rather untidily. He picks then out, and demands they go to the back of the line. This included the Swiss man in the camper van, who is now crying. At this point, Howard, rather hysterically, starts laughing.
It is now nearly ten o’clock. We then sit in this queue and wait for over half an hour while huge juggernaut lorries are backed onto the ferry. We watch in the distance as a soldier with a machine gun is called to intervene on an argument between two lorry drivers, presumably as equally as perplexed as we are. By the time we finally are parked on the ferry, it is 10.30. After collecting our cabin key, we sit down for our pre-paid evening meal. It is eleven o’clock. The food looks like it was prepared last year. The vegetables have gone to pulp. As we dragged ourselves to bed, we ask the ‘hostess’ how late we will be arriving in Croatia the next morning. ‘On time’ she cheerfully replies. I suspect this happens every single evening. Complete chaos, some random process of selecting who gets to embark and when, and not an explanation to anyone. In the words of Victor Meldrew – unbelievable!
As we were guided backwards off the ferry this morning, who should give us a cheerful wave, but our Mr. Fat Controller!
The good news is though, that Boris is back. Whilst whiling away the hours in the queue, we eventually worked out how to re-programme the voices. To check that it had worked, we set Boris for Brindisi, about fifty miles along the coast and pressed start. Dear Boris told us our route. It involved two ferries, one to Croatia, one returning from Montenegro, and in total taking 23 hours. You couldn’t make it up!
Needless to say, we have had a quiet day today. Also problems with photos – no doubt Croatian broadband – will try for more in morning.

2 thoughts on “Day 79 Bari, Italy to Dubrovnik, Croatia

  1. I think you have the script for a Short Film 🎥
    Hope to be with you coffee time for my annual Easter Monday 🐣 visit – can you email directions and confirm if I have the top or bottom bunk?


    1. It’ll have to be in the pop up tent with Eddie I’m afraid! Have a good Easter, and sorry to be missing out on coffee. Send our love to St. Andrews. Heather x


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