While in Rome, we did some research and decided to head to Albania in our van/house. Ferries cross the ocean to Durres in Albania departing from Bari on the south-east coast of Italy. We booked our tickets online to take ourselves and our beloved van across to Albania. The rough plan was to drive through Albania to get to Greece.
We didn’t know anyone who had been to Albania, and to be honest we’d heard next to no information ever about the country besides some basic research we did ourselves online.
We stocked up on groceries in the port town of Bari while waiting for the time to pass, and headed to the port area late in the afternoon. As the cars lined up ready to board the ferry, we noticed many men standing around in dress pants yelling about insurance and waving their clipboards at drivers. The thing is, you get to a certain point when roughing it in your van where you simply don’t trust people. You see so many people out there scamming well-dressed travellers that you tend not to believe anything random people on the street shout at you. We did not purchase any ‘insurance’ from these men as we figured the full-time ticket booth worker would have mentioned it if we needed to buy it. When it doubt: Google it.
A couple of tips:
- if you do need to use the toilet on any public transport, use it as soon as you get on board. The smell and state of the facilities will shock and disgust you once every Bob, Joe, Mary, and Jane get in there.
- Always have a jumper or a large scarf with you; useful to cover yourself up from prying eyes, or get cold during the journey.
We were hoping that you could stay in your car on the journey (as you can on some ferries) so we intended on sleeping in our lovely beds in the van. However, we were told to get out and stay in the sitting area of the ferry until the morning when we would reach Albania. Lucky we’re so casual about this sort of thing. We found a booth in the corner of the bar area after eating food from the diner. Kyle slept on the carpet against a bag with our valuables in it. I slept with my handbag wrapped under my body. There were men on the ferry who liked to stare, so I was thankful for my jumper and scarf to cover myself up with. I had pants and a shirt on but I felt like some men had x-ray vision. Small comforts can make a huge difference. I’ve roughed it many a time, but I have to admit – this was one rough night. When that sky began to lighten, I was ready for it.
We drove off the ferry onto the port at first light the next morning. There was some drama with waiting for the cars to line up nicely to leave the port. Albania is not apart of the EU so there is a passport check and things are done, let’s say, a little differently. As we drove out of the port, there were men in dress pants (again!) waving clipboards. There were huge numbers of these men. Hello English number plates… one second we were gaining speed and then were literally surrounded by men yelling ‘insurance!’. You can read more about this part of the adventure on our post about Albania.
It was an interesting way to enter a country that we’d barely heard of before. However, overall the ferry trip from Italy to Albania was well-priced, the food and amenities on board were fine (just book a room if sleeping on seats will be an issue for you). The memory of driving from the port into the town will stay with us forever.