The boat stopped at Igoumenitsa. It’s a town in the far northwest of Greece, on the border of Albania.
And despite its location on the border, I am guessing it has never been the subject of a border dispute. Because if it was, it would go like this:
Albania: “You take it.”
Greece: “No, you take it.”
And it’s a town that didn’t look like it got a lot of tourists. I say that because when we got off the boat, the locals took pictures of us, apparently to memorialize the day back in 1993 when they got visitors.
“Are they lost?” said one in Greek.
“Are they stupid?” said another.
Staci did not smile for the photos. Something had apparently put her in a bad mood. I racked my brain for answers.
Sure, she had slipped and fallen in an Italian bathroom. And spent a day in a cramped train cabin with a man spitting at her feet. And yeah, she hadn’t showered in two days. And okay, fine, a dog bit her.
But this was our honeymoon.
That’s when we met the tiny little smiling Greek man who took us by the arm and led us to his hotel on the top of a hill.
European travel trip: Don’t stay at the hotel of anyone who drags you there.
The fact is we had no choice. Igoumenitsa was, as they say, off the travel grid. “Let’s Go Europe” didn’t even have a mention of it in the index. We had no idea if they even had hotels.
And the truth was they didn’t. It was a small little town with tiny restaurants and tiny cafes and a few two-story houses which served as their “hotels.” And as we walked up the hill to the tiny man’s “hotel,” every one of Igoumenitsa’s residents came out to stare at us from the doors and windows of their cafes and restaurants. Think “Dead Man Walking,” but less joyous.
The only room this man had for us at his house was an upstairs kitchen into which he had dragged a bed. And it was not a clean kitchen. And it did not smell good.
I wanted to propose to Staci that we just leave, but that was pointless, because at that point she wasn’t talking to me. In fact, judging from the stare she had given me as we walked up the hill, I wasn’t even allowed to look at her.
So we went to bed.
Honeymoon tip: When your wife hasn’t showered in two days and she’s been bitten by a dog and the two of you are trapped in a place called Igoumenitsa and she hates you, you will not have sex.
We got up in the morning and packed our bags without saying a word. And walked to the dock for a boat that was to take us to Piraeus, the port for Athens.
On our walk down the hill, I took some comfort in knowing that this was the absolute low point of the trip. And that from this point forward, the most-romantic-trip-of-our-life would improve.
That’s when we started itching.
I pulled up my shirt to look at my chest. It was covered with red dots. As was Staci’s back. And our arms. And legs.
And that’s when we realized we had not been the only ones sleeping in our Igoumenitsa bed. We had been joined by hundreds of non-paying bedbugs.
All of which taught me something interesting about absolute low points on your honeymoon.
They can go lower.