The Ferry Tale

(for my new friend, Jorgos)

Many people see fairies. Arthur Conan Doyle for example. My Irish friend’s friend is sort of running regular inter-parallel-dimensional consultancies, if I understood him correctly. But not everyone may have experienced what I did – being stripped out of all plans made, just to be saved by a Fairie, disguised as a mid-aged Polish nurse…

Being almost-on-my-feet in Ulm, and having the ferry to Greece already paid, I had no choice but to hit (or rather to touch softly) the road again. Considering filthy weather, short time span and unwelcome possibility of getting my bronchitis back, with a pneumonia as a bonus, I decided to stay as safe and planned as I can, despite weak whines from my thinning purse. Grim prophecies of us both, left stranded somewhere in the middle of Greek desert, because of my irresponsible, compulsory spending, were chasing me most of the time. But what would you expect from the purse…

So, the carpooling trip to Venice, from Wien this time. Quite a detour, but no other options. 30 EUR per person – long live shared consumption  The lady told my friend (I have no German mobile) to call her after 10 pm to double confirm. But there is no problem, there are free places, the meeting place and time are known.

So, having this part roughly arranged, let’s try to get to Wien on time, without getting broke. Eurolines (58E) – fail. No places, unless last second chance which would be my last at all…

DeutscheBahn – sounds better in terms of planning. 71 Euro for a combined Bayern/SparNicht ticket to get me to Wien next morning, 2 hours before the carpooling lady departs.

A friendly e-cigarette/bongo shop owner dropped 25 Eur into the purse, which gave it enough power to start calling me names again, as I was paying for the train ticket.

If you get the cheapest fare over Euronight train, you do not expect to sleep well. Seats are sadistically designed to provide you space and shaping ALMOST proper for laying down and sleep. And, as the couch is rolling through the night, you again and again confirm the necessity of the word “ALMOST” to exist.

First thing when I hit Wien was to turn on the mobile – and then to receive a text message from Ulm. The carpooling lady cancelled my reservation. What the FUCK!

It’s her bloody good right, I kept repeating to myself. Carpooling is not a business. And there was no official prepaid booking. And stop being irrational, it’s still early and enough time to catch the ferry from Venice at 18:00 And, after several minutes, it worked.

I remembered (for a plan B) a spot at the crossing of ComputerStrasse and TriesteStrasse, which was rated by hitchwiki-ers as an attractive point to catch something due South. I even remembered the number of the bus line going there. So, with the hearthy ‘good luck’ from a bus driver, still a bit shocked after my question where to leave for the best connection to Venice, I made final 50 meters walk to the petrol station, spread my nice, handmade banner, saying “Venezia” and stuck my thumb out.

After 2 hours and couple false alarms (ok, in fact I KNEW the the cement mixer was unlikely to head Venice), I was still there. My admiration for Wien history and architecture faded a bit. Replaced by the grim picture of myself, spending night at this bloody bus stop at Wien outskirts, heading nowhere for the rest of my short, pitiful and miserable life.

I was almost ready to accept even my purse’s opinion on my spending habits (bloody thing had enough decency to stop bitching for a while), when a classic-looking, somehow rusty sedan made an emergency landing in my bay. The driver, a baldhead, sturdy Austrian, said he would left me only 100 km further South, but “in a good petrol station”. Man, I was ready to wax and polish his skull just for taking me out of there!

The guy was really decent. He was driving his son – a tiny one, blond haired and all in taking pictures with his dad’s smartfone, somewhere and whatever was his plan for the day, I really hope it went well.

I caught even a half an hour nap on the backseat of the 1960ish (Diesel, American version) Mercedes and I got my provisions topped with a bottle of water and a pack of chewing gum, before I was left at the last place – the driver said – where people could tank the LPG before Italian border.

Thank you, mate. May your son proudly inherit your great heart and – after many, many years – marvellously restored classic car of yours.

Even in Wien I realised that every 1-2 dozens of cars I could spot Polish plates. Also on the petrol station, the very first car which passed me, was from Poland. I started thinking about devising some patriotic pantomim, which would send next driver clear message “a countryfellow in distress”, when I saw the Fairie.

Another car with Polish plates, driven by a single lady (no hope for the hitchhiker), loaded loosely with – apparently – gifts from The Old Country, approached me hesitantly. Trying to look as patriotically as I could, I practically threw myself under it. When the lady stopped and opened the window, I asked in Polish, with my best social tone: “Are you by any chance going South? I have a ferry to catch in Venice at 18:00”

The Fairie looked straight into my eyes and answered “I will take you there” – or maybe something else, I can’t remember clearly now. Whatever it was, after just few minutes I was securely strapped to the back seat of her Seat, loose cargo compacted a bit to accomodate me and my belongings.

The Fairie appeared to be a Polish nurse, working very successfully in some posh Italian clinic, getting back from her early holiday in Poland (spent mostly on what Fairies are supposed to be best at – taking care of her daughters’ kids). I felt a momentary surge of male vanity, when she told me “I broke all my rules for you”, but then the rest of statement came: “but you looked so harmless and lost”. Well. Remember Petros, you are not here to proof anything anymore. Especially in respect of women.

The ride went smoothly from now on. At the first possible place, I was magically treated with true Italian Cappuccino, Polish cucumbers and on-the-road-made sandwiches. And in suspiciously short time (but again, what can I know about inter-dimensional road shortcuts?) we landed at the parking lot of Mestre Lidl grocery.

From there, after substantial food purchases, I continued already on my own (including paying 2 extra times for the Venice “People Mover”) until I sucessfully boarded the Anek Lines ferry. 90 minutes before time.

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Turning stories into reality.

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