|So, while we're watching Smallville, enjoying some time to ourselves (as much as you can when people continually stop and stare in the window at you), we are interrupted by an older man who come screaming in the doorway, waving his arms demanding that we want water or tea or coffe or wine, but we must be thirsty because the room is so hot and what can he buy for us?. After a short conversation that consisted of us telling him that we did not want anything and him going anyway to buy us some water, he sat down and began talking to us. We are nice girls, and we didn't want to insult a clearly lonely man, so we humored him and listened while he rambled on and on about how proud he was that we were travling and did we know that we reminded him of his two daughters who he didn't speak to anymore because of the divorce, but he really missed the one with spina bifida (at this point he started crying), but it was ok because he now has two sons from the new wife (he stops crying), and blah blah blah... You get the idea. He went on for what seemed like an hour. It was at least one tv show. Anyway, at the end of the "conversation" he started to leave, and then made sure that we understood that he was going to be in the bar, and if we wanted anything at all throughout the ferry ride, he would buy it for us, no worries.
By this point in our encounter with Pino I was feeling a little wary of him, and neither of us really wanted to go have drinks with him. So, when we decided to go up on deck to watch the sunset (not a very impressive one, as it turned out) we had to figure out a way to sneak by the bar and up the stairs without being spotted. We managed to do it, but we weren't so lucky on the way back down. He saw us as we tried to tiptoe past the door, and we were stuck. So, we went into the bar and sat down at a back table. Pino brought over a nice bottle of red wine, and we all settled in for another bout of talking.
While Melissa was talking to him, I started to look around. The bar was large and smokey (everyone smokes here) and a few tables had people around them watching the soccer on tv. When Pino left for a minute to bum a lighter off one of the other men in the bar, Melissa noticed what I had. We were the only women in the entire bar. There were maybe 30 men, all dirty and notably scary looking, but no other women. When Pino got back from the other table he mentioned that the men had been talking about us. They apparently had offered a light in exchange for "one of the women". Really classy joint. We should have gotten up and left right then, but we were sortof enjoying the wine, and Pino wasn't doing anything wrong, so we stayed.
After a while, the wine ran out, and I signaled to Melissa that we needed to get out of there. She got it, but before we could say anything, another bottle appeared on the table. We protested, but the men in Greece don't take no for an answer. In other situations, that could be a serious problem. In this situation, it wasn't too bad, and we were fine. We each had one more glass of wine, and then I stood up and said we were going to bed. Pino got it and we walked off.
We brushed our teeth, and climbed into our sleeping bags (even though it was about 95 degrees in our fishbowl), and fell asleep. At some point in the night, Melissa got up to go to the bathroom. On her way back, Pino "ran into her" and asked her if she wanted hot coffee. She said no, and went back to bed. Not long after that, he came in and woke her up, telling her to be careful because he had just gone back to his cabin an found that someone had gone through his pockets, and he wanted to make sure all of our stuff was safe. She thanked him sleepily, and he left. A few hours later, some people boarded the boat and at one point one of them dropped something. Both Melissa and I woke up (unaware that the other was awake) and sortof looked around. You know the feeling you get when someone is looking at you? We both had it, and it was for good reason. I looked up over the seat behind me, and Pino was standing there, leaning over the seats, staring at us while we slept. Seriously creepy. I gave him a dirty look, and went back to sleep.
Now, at this point, in any normal country, we would have gotten up and complained to someone who worked on the boat about him. That doesn't work in Greece. We would have been complaining about a scary man to all the scary men who were the ones staring at us through the window. Not a secure feeling at all. So, we both slept fitfully for the next few hours. Pino never bothered me directly, but he woke Melissa up a few more times by tapping her foot, and then tickling her foot, each time asking her if she was "wanting hot coffee?".
By 5 am we were both awake and ready to move around. We carefully (silently) looked around and noticed Pino passed out on a chair in the next row over from ours. Melissa had to pee, but she didn't want to walk by him and risk waking him up, so she crawled over me and snuck out of the room. While she was out, I gathered the items we might need if we were to leave and waited for her. When she got back, we planned an escape, and decided to go up on deck to watch the sunrise. We quietly packed a bag with food, clothes, and entertainment, and crawled out of the room. Down the hall we found a set of stairs with a couch and chairs hidden at the top. We decided that this was a good place to hang out, and we set up there. We had been there for about an hour listening to music and eating a little snack when Melissa noticed someone walk into the room below us and sit down in a chair at the foot of the stairs. It was Pino, and we were trapped. We had to stealth out of the seats we were in and try to find a new place to hide.
We tried the deck, but it was raining. We couldn't go back down to our room because he would find us, and we weren't sure we were allowed to just loiter in the hallway. So, we found the best hiding place we could think of. The girls bathroom. And we stayed there for about 45 minutes. We ate in there. We read in there. We blocked the door every time we heard someone walk by. Eventually, Melissa got fed up. She decided (and I agreed) that we could be weak anymore. We were strong American women and we were not going to hide in a bathroom for the rest of the trip. We were going to go down to our room and if he bothered us, we were going to tell him to get stuffed.
So, we went back downstairs. And when we bothered us and asked us if we were wanting hot coffee, we just said no. We weren't rude, but we were firm, and he got the point. Pino pretty much left us alone for the rest of the ride.
When we finally got to Brindisi, we disembarked and Melissa and I were about to start walking to town when Pino came over and told us that there was a free shuttle bus to the center of town. So, we climbed in and rose with the rest of the passengers (at least the ones who weren't truck drivers) into town. Pino got out of the bus and said goodbye, and that was the end of him.
I'm sure he was fine, and I'm sure he meant no harm, but he was very sketchy, and he taught the two of us a valuable lesson. When travling in Europe, don't give strange men the time of day. Don't even look at them. If you do, you are beggin for them to behave in ways that may seem normal and ok to the, but it will be completely foreign to you and you probably won't like it. So, when in doubt, be rude and they will leave you alone. At least that's what we took from the experience.
Also, if you have to take the ferry across from Greece to Italy, shell out the extra 10 Euro for a sleeper cabin.