Bikes, waiting to get on board
Our couchsurfing host in Kerch, Sveta, helped us big time with us trying to get to Georgia without having to go through Abkhasia, a disputed territory that considers itself an independant state, recognized only by a few countries : Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela,Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. European tourists have a hard time trying to get the visa and enter the territory.
There is no passenger boat between Kerch and Georgia, but it is possible to catch a 2 days ride with the weekly cargo to links Kerch and Poti, with a few arrangements with the company, UKRFerry. Sveta made the right phone calls and lead us to the tiny office, where we could get our ticket for about 100 euros, including meals, nights and bicycles. We had 2 days to wait for the boat, and Sveta, who is as well a bicycle enthusiast, introduced us to her cycling friends and we visited together the kerch area on our bikes during those 2 days, which was really nice. The place is full of history and there are remains of greek, ottoman and soviet eras next to each other.
Our ukranian cycling team!
On the boat, there is not much to do : no entertainment, no bar, and no way to watch Ukraine playing France as the television signal was too poor in the middle of the sea. Sleeping, learning some russian, and taking refeshing showers were among the highlights.
Our lunch buddies were 2 germans, Andre and Jens, motorbiking around the black sea for 5 weeks (check out their site), but we spent most of the time with the younger part of the cargo crew, english speaking guys who were happy to have some new company. They enthusiastically showed us around, led us to the hidden ping pong table, the welding room, and their own cabins, where we exchanged music, ate biscuits, learn russian bad words, and took funny pictures. Another time killer on the boat was all the talking about that paranoïd gay rastaman, who claimed that his cabin-mates were secret agent from the FBI.
The crew’s ping pong table
The crew’s welding room
The ride took longer than scheduled, and we finally arrived in Poti after 2 nights, 5 meals, and 46 hours on the boat. The georgian custom control was once again a formality : instead of checking what was in our bags, the officer took our Russian phrasebook and checked Nico’s knowledge. As he passed the test with mention, we were good to go