I always thought of ferries as a rather mundane but necessary mode of transport to some. I mean, it’s simply a necessity in some places. Japan and Philippines alone comprise almost 14,000 islands. Once on a jet ferry from the southern port city of Busan, South Korea, we were instructed to fasten our seat belts, which I thought slightly disturbing. We later found out that the threat was not a blind jet-ferry captain, but the possibility of striking a whale.
On arrival in the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka, I was randomly interviewed by a Japanese television crew about the trip, and the threat of high-speed whale collisions. Feeling jovial (and forgetting who I was talking to), I said with a straight face that my time is worth money, and those arrogant whales had no right to disrupt my peaceful journey. I didn’t anticipate the Japanese duo nodding and smiling in agreement, and I was probably featured on Japanese television expounding a love for whales roughly akin to that of the Japanese.
On a Filipino ferry heading out of Cebu, we took our seats as in an enormous plane, watched something weird on a large television screen up front, and hoped the vessel didn’t catch fire or collide with an oil tanker. It didn’t (actually the Cebu Supercat was modern and comfortable).
Recently I boarded a ferry in Helsinki, Finland, en route to Tallinn, Estonia. This was a whole different ballgame, on a whole different planet.
Europeans don’t seem to realise just how problematic their little continent is. To outsiders like me (an Australian, who can drive 4,000 kilometers – the distance from London to Syria – to arrive in a place where precisely nothing has changed, except the preferred code of football, and the brands of beer served at the pub), Europe is a tightly packed traveler’s dream.
The intoxicating feeling of jumping a train for a few hours, to encounter a new language, culture, architecture, food, fashion… over and over again… is indeed highly problematic. Once you realise how indescribably awesome Europe is, you have to keep going back. It costs a fucking fortune.
…and it’s the little things. This ferry! Expecting to strap into my assigned seat for the two-hour trip, I walked into a miniature cruise ship. People wandered about, did some shopping at the supermarket, or gift shop. A two-piece band played in the bar, and they weren’t bad! Other passengers relaxed with their beers outside on the deck. The wifi was solid. It was almost a pity the trip to Estonia was only two hours.
But then of course, after two relaxing hours the ferry docked in Estonia, which yet again was… fucking awesome.