Travel Diary: Drawing Names

Written by Sinead

To begin this story, I need to introduce two characters, Charlie and Blaine.

Charlie is a friendly, English man who is quirky, random and an interesting bloke. He lived in the small Italian town of Taranto.

Blaine is an eco-warrior, a very clever young chap who shared a spontaneity for travel and going where the path takes you.

While in a hostel in Napoli, I met Blaine and we became travel buddies. We met Charlie, who was also connected with the Couchsurfing community. Blaine and I decided to ‘surf’ with Charlie on our way to Greece.

Couchsurfing exchanges often include the ‘surfers’ doing something nice for the host. We cooked a nice dinner, and set up a helium balloon to hover by the door when Charlie came home.

One night at Charlie’s flat, we were sitting around, chilling, discussing adventures, plans and how many different uses we could find for oranges. As it turns out, some of these can be painful (oranges are not weapons), however they can be used dangerously with electrical devices (not advised!). Spending time with Charlie and Blaine was like I had adopted 2 brothers, complete with play-fights and paying each other out. The ‘home’ environment was quickly set.

Don’t try this at home… or anywhere!

The question remained, how were we going to get to Greece, and when? We had plans to meet up with Chris, another friend from the Napolitan hostel in about 5 days, in Athens. Considering we were flexible and easy-going, we decided it would be interesting to put our faith in the unknown and draw names out of a hat. As we preferred to travel sans-plane, boat was our ‘most direct’ option to get to Greece. The port names were tossed into a hat, departures from either Brindisi or Bari, arriving at either Igoumenitsa or Patras. It was the luck of the draw!


Papa Charlie dramatically tossed the names around in my beanie, seeming to relish the sense of power. Blaine pulled out the location of Igoumenitsa (I-gou, you-gou, we-go menitsa!). I pulled out the departure of Brindisi and our journey became real! We would arrive at the port in Brindisi, and take the night ferry to Greece. Of course, budget backpacking meant we only had deck passes, but Blaine had a sleeping bag, I had a scarf and jacket aka, portable bedding with the right attitude.


We packed up our bags, said a nice “see you soon” to Charlie, and made our way to this new Italian town. Being practical, we stopped off at a supermarket to buy dinner and travel snacks and subsequently had to power walk to the port. We arrived a little puffed and in a long line of mainly truck drivers, a friendly voice asked if we needed any help with our bags (let’s face it, at 22, I really didn’t know how to pack economically..). Enter a new character, Seth, who has a whole story of his own. We heard some of his story, and Blaine and I split the cost of his ticket and happily boarded the boat with our new friend.

Blaine on top of the world

We had a great evening, meeting fellow travellers over (picnic) dinner, played cards, and got to know our new friends, one for just a day, one for the next week and a few who were friends for just this evening. Blaine and I retired to “bed” which was actually just us napping on some chairs in a quiet corner of the deck. As the ferry pulled into Igoumenitsa at 4am, Blaine and I decided that the very unsociable hour was not the best time to go venturing and thought it was best to stay with our new friends and travel all the way to Patras. This on it’s own became an adventure as we opened our minds and hearts, living the next day with Seth, but more about that another day…

Mysterious Seth with a guitar

The Burning Question:

Why did we trust a stranger and buy them a ticket?

Sometimes you meet someone, who’s story inspires you, challenges you to open your mind and teaches you about what it is to be human. 

Stay Safe and Travel Far…


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