I think I first got the idea to take a ferry from Barcelona to Italy because it came with a discount if you buy a Eurail pass. It was supposed to be almost like a cruise, with a casino and restaurants and cabins to rent. All that was true, although not at all what we were expecting.
First we couldn't find the place to board the ship. We finally got a taxi and he drove all the way around the docks of Barcelona and crossed a bridge over to where the cruises dock. He took us about 2 miles out of the way before finally he turned around and got us to our dock.
Once we got there, we accidentally got in the truck drivers line. There was this huge fight between an Italian family and the woman behind the counter about something to do with their truck. I don't think it ended well.
Finally another American guy arrived and a couple from Australia and a couple who was backpacking. Then these three Italians dressed in rags with a dreadlocks, a guitar, dried flowers, their bags and a dog show up. Two of them leave and it turns out that the one girl was dumped by her boyfriend and kicked out. Of course she doesn't speak English well so she told us this with hand gestures.
The 7 of us are waiting in this huge room wondering where the boat is, because there's no boat near us. Eventually they send a bus and we have to drag the girl's dog and bags on in order to finally leave.
The boat left at midnight. We thought that the 7 of us were the only walk ons and everyone else had just driven on. But when we got on the boat there were hundreds (and I mean HUNDREDS) of people camped out all over the boat already.
It turned out that the boat had started in North Africa and the boat was almost full of people with deck tickets and no actual reserved seats
There were whole families in piles on the floor. People had draped sheets over chairs to make tents. There were grown men just sprawled out in hallways on their prayer rugs sleeping. They pointed us into this weird little dark room to sleep. It had chairs kind of like on an airplane, and there were little children sleeping under them.
Then a party started above our heads. There was live music and dancing and a bar literally right above our seats where we were supposed to sleep. Eventually we gave up and went upstairs, but we could only go one at a time because we were worried about our bags. We slept with our bags clipped together and to us. I kept my phone under my clothes.
It was an old ship, I could tell because the sign showing that you had to wear clothes and not bathing suits looked like it was from the 50s.
We woke up and one at a time went to the bathroom. The floor of the bathroom was covered in 2 inches of water and there was no toilet paper.
We walked around the whole boat. Most of the chairs and couches had people sleeping on them but we found an "internet corner" to sit in.
There was no internet. There weren't even outlets.
It seemed like there were only African people on the boat until about 3 when all the Italians woke up.
Then things got loud and crazy. There were kids running everywhere. There was an empty pool on the boat and they filled it up and all the kids stripped down to their underwear and were playing. It was a writhing mass of little children.
I read my book then for a while. They had good espresso and my mom had 6 of them. Two Italian girls came over to talk to me and pretty soon there was a crowd of kids around us trying to teach us how to speak Italian. They kept giggling, and I'm not sure if it was because of our pronunciation or because they weren't teaching us the words they said they were.
We were started to get tired of being on the boat (this was at about hour 19) and so we packed up and met up with our Australian friends. It took about another hour to get into the dock. And then we couldn't figure out how to get off the boat. They announced everything in Italian and Arabic, neither of which I speak at all. My mom had booked a hotel just four blocks from where the boat was supposed to dock. But for some reason we didn't dock there.
We finally made it off the boat. I saw a line of cars and said "yay taxis!"
They weren't taxis. They were police cars. They were searching everyone to make sure we weren't trafficking drugs. Fortunately we didn't look suspicious so we got through okay. But then we were just standing in the middle of this dock at night surrounded by police. We asked them where a taxi might be and they pointed down the pier. There was only one taxi. And our hotel and our friends' hotel were both over 10 kilometers away in opposite directions.
They let us take the cab while the police and the taxi driver called them another one. My mom said "I've never been happier to get to a hotel room."