Having made it to the port in good time I was told by an assiduous girl at the counter that, unfortunately, the ferry to Sicily has been cancelled due to the bad weather and that, to be honest, things do not look good for tomorrow morning either. I took a seat in order to evaluate my options and in about ten minutes came the confirmation – tomorrow’s ferry is cancelled too and that the captain will re-evaluate on Friday. Bummer.
On my way back to the town I noticed a steady stream of German pensioners heading for a huge cruise ship moored at the quay right next to the ferry terminal – and that gave me an idea. Not something very likely to work, but what have I got to lose by trying. At the gate I was stopped by a strict-looking grey haired security guard who was quite obviously in no mood to get distracted in his task of checking the plastic boarding passes. When I enquired about the destination of the ship he stated first dryly “Don’t know” but then, after a moment, motioned me to move closer and then whispered confidingly “Actually we DO know, but we cannot tell”, and returned to checking the passes. Somewhat bemused, I then stopped the next German couple asking them what is the next port of call – to which they reported “Tunis!”
This seemed to amuse the security guy to no end. “Do you want to go to Tunis?” he asked and then proceeded to explain where can I find the agent in Valletta selling the tickets. For a moment it actually didn’t sound a bad idea at all, but once I had explained that I was actually trying to get to Sicily and that the ferries were cancelled my newfound friend got very agitated and, now simply waving the tourists through, started phoning different places while explaining me at the same time “I think there is a ship coming in tomorrow, let’s see, let’s see.. I will try to help you – if I can! – let’s see”. In a couple of minutes he apparently got a positive response from somewhere and became even more excited, dragging me outside by my sleeve and pointing me off towards an embankment further away. We parted great friends.
The offices of Sullivan Maritime were clearly geared towards freight rather than passenger traffic – the ticket consists of five A4 pages of fine print coming straight from maritime law and took about 15 minutes to produce. But for €40 I now have a place on a ship leaving tomorrow at 4pm for Catania and arriving six hours later (compared to 90 minutes with the fast ferry). Apparently the weather is expected to get quite a bit worse so it looks likely that the fast boats won’t leave before the next week.
The upshot of the whole affair is that the friggin’ Royal Mail will get another chance tomorrow to deliver my belongings and that I will have another tough choice to make tonight amongst all the fabulous restaurants of Valletta.