Andrés and I didn’t plan our trip to be part of a movement. Nevertheless, our airplane-less sojourn around the world could be considered an extended exercise in “slow travel,” and I am enjoying the benefits that this kind of exploration offers: getting off the beaten path, getting into the rhythm of a place, keeping our tourist dollars local, that sort of thing

We have crossed continents on trains, but getting on a train will never be as exciting as embarking on a long boat ride. It’s still unbelievable to me that you can take a boat from Russia to Japan, even though I’ve been on that very boat. The passage between two strange countries on a ferry is a swaying, sooty affair. On the water, everyone is a traveler, and we’ve celebrated that status with whatever culture we are accompanying: most passengers left the boat to Norway inebriated; between Sweden and Finland the Fins let loose on the dance floor to a live band; and the Russia/South Korea/Japan boat was complete international cross-culture madness. We’ve taken 5 international ferries so far, each with their unique charms, all utilitarian, shabby, and fun.

Passengers enjoying a smoke on the Stena Ferry from Denmark to Norway.

The ferry between Stokholm, Sweden and Finland takes a stunning route through the tiny islands that make up these Nordic coastlines.

The Eastern Dream stops in Vladivostok, Russia; Donghae, South Korea; and Sakaiminato, Japan. At each departure, the ship is brought out to sea by the harbormaster. He then turns the ship back over to the captain and bravely leaps onto a hovering pilot ship.

The boat from Osaka, Japan to Busan, South Korea was full of teenagers who immediately put on pajamas for the big boat slumber party.

As our boat from South Korea neared China, the famous air pollution became visible.

We won’t take any more international ships for a while: it’s over land from now on. These fun trips have left their mark, though, and I’ll be sure to favor boat travel in the future, whenever I have the time for it.

2 thoughts on “Boats

  1. The Baltic ferries were madhouses when I took them, before EU opened borders. Sometimes it seemed that no Swede, Finn or Norwegian left the boat sober. Some had to be carried off. Night-long crossings were fun.


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