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Across the Black Sea

Written on: Saturday August 11th, 2012

A journal entry from: November 2011 until...

The 22 steps for taking a boat from Georgia to Odessa made me nostalgic for the 9 steps to post a parcel in Mysore.

Step 0. Be unable to speak Russian, Ukranian or Georgian to make the process more challenging.

1. Find some information online about the UKR Ferry that says quite clearly that they have a ferry from Batumi to Odessa on 8 August.

2. Find unmarked office of UKR Ferry in Batumi thanks to the help of some locals in the street it was on.

3. Get told by company representative that they did not have any ferries going to Odessa.

4. Walk back to hostel and pick up computer to show where their homepage says they do.

5. Get told by company representative that they have ferries that go to Ilyichevsk, not Odessa (abotu 30km away)

6. Ask to buy a ticket.

7. Get told that the Batumi office knows nothing about the ferry as they leave from Poti, 50 km to the north and I will have to contact that office.

8. Call number on internet for Poti office. Get no response. Repeat several times.

9. Go back to Batumi office. Tell them about the phone number not working. Get given proper number (which is not written anywhere in the office or on the internet).  

10. Ring number. Get told that the ferry leaves on the 9th but is just for cars and trucks, not for foot-passengers. Get someone with fluent Georgian to call. Have the information change to - it is possible to buy tickets but if there are too many people with vehicles who want to go on the boat then the ticket will be cancelled. Also get told to be at the office at 10AM tomorrow (the day of departure) and if I want a ticket - which will cost $200.

11. Go back to hostel. Meet Richard, the super-helpful Russian speaking American who has already bought a ticket.

12. Decide to go to Poti the next day and try to buy a ticket. Worry a little bit because the mini-bus didn't get there until about 10:20.

13. Go to Poti office. Find very helpful staff more than happy to sell me a ticket for $140.

14. Hang around waiting to be told to go to the ship/board. Realise there was no need to worry about arriving at 10:20.

15. On asking get told we can leave the office but should come back in an hour.

16. Wait as 9 hours pass.

17. Get in minibus, get driven to boat, board.

18. Get asked for $100 as insurance against having problems with visas for Ukraine (and that we'd get the money back if there was no problem).

19. Politely refuse.

20. Go to cabin, find it much, much more comfortable than expected. 

21. Eventually leave Poti some time around 2AM.

22. Have an excellent, smooth crossing over the next three nights, with tasty, hearty meals and interesting company.