In a bid to minimise the number of flights taken on this sabbatical, Babs and I crossed the Mediterranean from Barcelona to Civitavecchia (the port of Rome) by taking a 20-hour Grimaldi lines ferry, which takes pedestrians, passenger cars and campers, and cargo trucks.
To economise we booked €55 deck seats instead of > €100 bunks, and they were fortunately comfortable enough for a decent sleep (picture business class seats on a mediocre airline). Savvier (but heavier laden) backpackers simply found free corners in the indoor deck, or curled up on the floor under their seats, and crawled into their sleeping bags padded by roll-up foam mats.
There was even a big-screen TV at the front of the room and I spent a very entranced hour watching CSI dubbed in Italian.
During the daylight hours, Babs and I settled into one of the cushy booths in the large bar/lounge where I did a lot of daydreaming, reading, writing and even napping to pass the time.
All in all, a very pleasant way to travel slowly, but a word of advice to those who are tight on budget but big on food: Drop by La Boqueria or Mercat Barceloneta and pack a picnic before getting on board, to avoid mediocre food priced for a captive audience.
Bye bye Barca. I miss you already.
Daydreaming in the lounge...
The ever irresistable Babs makes a new friend -- a businessman making deliveries in Rome and Sardinia (we didn't dare to ask what). In a mish mash of English, Spanish and French, we learn from him that Sardinia (which we wanted to go to but alas didn't) was going to be as expensive as Rome anyway. Not to mention there were ongoing bushfires at the time.
We eventually reach Civitavecchia at dusk, but still need to find the train station to catch a 90-minute connecting train to central Rome. Babs -- not impressed with the organisation of the free port buses -- turns on his internal "Babbinav" radar and rockets off on foot.
I plod along behind with backpack and daypack, and watch 3 port buses pass us by. Ah well. Might as well make the best of it and take in the sights of the Roman port along the way.
A local fisherman -- with ALL his goods on display -- is as amused at the sight of me as I am of him.