It was 7 am and Staci and I were stuck in a bleak train terminal in a place called Brindisi, which I’m now certain is Italian for “you don’t want to be here.”
We didn’t plan to get off the train in Brindisi. That was determined by the other four passengers in our six-passenger train cabin out of Venice. Three of them smoked the entire train ride. That was too bad because none of them were seated by the window, so all the smoke had to first be filtered through my lungs.
I was bummed about the seven packs of Lucky I didn’t plan on smoking, but I was even less thrilled by the fourth stranger in the cabin: Signore Spitter.
Signore Spitter was an older Italian man who spit every ten minutes.
The good news about Signore Spitter was that unlike the smokers, he did have a window seat he could utilize for his unpleasant habit. The bad news was that he didn’t utilize it.
A travel tip: A long train ride is made longer when the man next to you is spitting on your shoes.
So when the train suddenly stopped at a town called Brindisi, we fled. That might seem rash, but it was an improvement over Staci’s plan, which was to jump off the train while it was moving.
In fact, I’m not even sure Brindisi was a scheduled stop. I’m fairly certain Staci pulled the emergency cord that hung above the train window.
Alone with our suitcases in an empty train station, we opened our guide book.
It said Brindisi had a ship terminal and was “the jumping off point” for many tourists traveling from Italy to Greece. The phrase was appropriate because at that point in our Italian adventure Staci was willing to jump off the dock and swim for it.
We walked to the ship terminal, lugging our heavy suitcases the whole way. Staci was sweating like I’d never seen her sweat before, in the clothes she had been in since the day before in Venice.
Romantic honeymoons did not get any better than this.
When we got to the port, it was empty. Not a soul in sight. Like a bomb had dropped on Brindisi. That would have been okay if it had landed on Signore Spitter and the three smokers, but not even they were dumb enough to get off the train in Brindisi.
The schedule of boat departures indicated that the first ship out of Brindisi was not until 7:00 pm at night, which meant we had twelve hours to kill.
That was more than enough time for Staci, who estimated she’d need just three to kill me and dump the body in the Adriatic.
Now let me just say here that twelve hours is a lot of time to waste even when you’re at home with a television and a refrigerator. It’s even longer when you’re sitting on two uncomfortable suitcases in a post-apocalyptic ship terminal and your wife is homicidal.
The guidebook also said that Brindisi held the remains of St. Nicholas, or as we call him here, “Santa Claus.” It seemed fitting that a place like this would bury Santa Claus.
Five hours into our twelve-hour wait, a boat arrived. It was leaving for Greece. It was not on the terminal’s schedule.
That’s when Staci and I learned about Italian schedules. They’re not actually schedules. They’re more accurately termed, “Whimsical Suggestions We May or May Not Follow Through On.”
But the boat was here. And it was leaving Italy.
So we got on it. And learned it was going to some place in Greece called Igoumenitsa.
Igoumenitsa was a destination so popular that this large ship held at least three other passengers and a dog.
But the boat had beer. So we bought six. And sat down to drink them.
Then the dog bit Staci.
This, my friends, was a honeymoon.