Monday, August 15, 2011

Ferrying the Adriatic

Summer is rapidly drawing to a close.  I start my new job this week and September will mark the beginning of the attache entertaining season.  With this in mind, this past weekend we decided to undertake what has become a tradition for military families stationed in Tirana.  We hopped the ferry and took off for a quick trip to the navy base in Naples, Italy.  Several times a year families will compile shopping lists and head off the the commissary and exchange for a whirlwind weekend of stocking up on all things familiar.

Waiting to disembark in Bari, Italy
Loaded down with as many coolers as we could fit in our car, we set off on a Thursday evening for the overnight car ferry from Durres, Albania to Bari, Italy.  We naively that we would all sleep the night away and arrive in Italy refreshed and ready to face the day.  Our "luxury" cabin might have had room for Sidney's pack 'n play but that didn't mean he was willing to sleep in it. Much to our chagrin, the 7 hour trip was all too reminiscent of our flight from the States to Albania.  Instead of gently rocking him to sleep, the sway of the boat only agitated Sidney into a state of exhausted crankiness.  (Always the naval officer, Glenn was a tad put out about the fact that his son likes neither airplanes nor ships).  

In our sleepless daze we navigated our way across the boot of Italy to Naples where we indulged in all things American.  I would never eat Taco Bell in the United States but it had a strangely comforting taste when eaten in the mall food court.  We marveled in the cleanliness of the base roads and parking lots and wandered aimlessly through the wide, well stocked aisles of the commissary.  It is amazing how quickly one becomes accustomed to their surroundings.  

We shopped from multiple lists- our own for personal use, items needed for entertaining (Albanians love to eat "American" foods and expect to be served them when dining in our home), and those from various friends who had asked us to pick up items that just cannot but found in Albania.  Always a list shopper I found myself throwing things into the cart just because there were available and I could.  I have a new found understanding of the hoarding mentality- who knows when I might have the opportunity to purchase these things again.

Our little 20 car ferry
The next morning we picked up our coolers of frozen items from the deep freezer at the commissary and hurried back across Italy to make our return ferry.  In the interest of keeping things from melting in the August heat, we opted for the high speed hydrofoil to reduce our ferry time to 3 1/2 hours.  Our return ferry was small, loud, and filled with hoards of vacationing Italians and Albanians.  Despite departing 1 1/2 hours late (my mind kept focusing on the many pounds of frozen meat we had packed in our coolers), with the exception of the mid-sea evacuation drill sirens that woke a finally sleeping Sidney, the trip was uneventful.

(Too???) soon we found ourselves back in the dirt parking lot that is the customs area for the port of Durres.  We quickly returned to reality as we joined the teeming hoards of people and cars dodging the Roma beggars being pursued by port police.   We had reentered a world that could not be more different than the orderly one we had just left behind yet we kept thinking hat at least we were almost home.

A full freezer

Filling the pantry shelves
It was such a blur of trip that Sunday morning we found ourselves wondering if we had really been to Italy and back over the course of a couple of short days.  One look at our full freezer and pantry reassured us that we had.

1 comment:

  1. that box of Jack Daniels filled with Jack Daniels? ; )