I have a stamp in my passport from a country to which I have never been.
Countries that are part of the Schengen Area in Europe stamp your passport whenever you enter or exit that area–not whether you enter or leave a specific country. The agreement allows for greater freedom of movement within most of Europe (a convenient arrangement, even if it does come at the expense of fewer stamps for stamp collectors like me). The stamp also shows your mode of transportation, whether you arrived or departed by plane, train, or ferry. I already had train and plane stamps in my passport; I was excited to finally get the ferry stamp on my trip to Croatia.
When Jo and I queued up to board the ferry in Trieste, Italy, I expected to go through customs at the port. When we didn’t, I thought we would at the dock in Pula, Croatia. Unlike other ferries I’ve been on, the seats inside this ferry were aisled like they would be on an airplane. We managed to get seats by the window, where we watched as the Mediterranean coastline passed by, Croatian guidebooks and phrasebooks sitting on our laps. At some point, Italy became Slovenia and we came into port. Some passengers left, others boarded, and with them came a Slovenian customs officer. He took up all of our passports and, after a few tense moments (as is the case whenever my passport is taken from me, however legitimately), returned them. Jo’s passport came back empty, due to being a British national; mine came with a stamp saying that I was departing Slovenia by ferry.
That is, I was exiting the Schengen Area. My passport was stamped at the last port in the Schengen Area before crossing into Croatian territory.
I feel a bit like it’s cheating, to have a stamp from a country I haven’t actually visited. It does, however, give me another reason to visit Slovenia someday.
Photo: Slovenian coastline.