As we all know, our original ferry had an engine room fire, so we were given two alternatives to choose from:
– Turkey on 24.6.
– Georgia on 27.6.
Because we were already looking forward to Georgia too much and also already made a rough route planning, we decided to keep this plan. So we booked an Airbnb for the remaining days in the city, where we were a little to ourselves and Beni could work a few hours in peace.
Once again we realized that we are definitely not city people. Thick air, noise, posing Influencer and stressed people, for us relaxing feels different and we would have liked to get back on the bike after 2-3 days and go out into nature.
Nevertheless, we tried to make the best of the forced break in Odessa. So we have extensively enjoyed the culinary diversity and have eaten our way through all “countries” 😋.
Much to Beni’s delight, Odessa is a cat city 😃. There are very many partly homeless cats, they are fed and petted by the residents. Often they even get small cat houses to spend the night.
Much more pleasant than the stray dogs in the countryside that always run after you barking 😅.
Exactly one month we were allowed to spend in wild Ukraine, it’s time for a summary and some peculiarities:
- Helpfulness: Our first impression has been confirmed throughout the month and that is that people are very helpful, interested and friendly. We were invited off the street twice for overnight stays and meals. We were also given gifts twice, once in a small store when we were given coffee and snacks and another time when Beni took his rear brake to the bike store to be bled, he was not charged for it. They even offered tea and coffee and as icing on the cake we were given a new bidon.
- Roads: You have to be aware that once you leave the few federal roads, there is no turning back 😅.
- Food: The local food is mostly very simple, tasty and very cheap (e.g. lunch menu incl. salad and soup with drink € 9.-/person). However, as soon as you leave the big cities, it is difficult to find restaurants at all. But the good thing is that there is at least 1 minimarket in practically every village, no matter how small. These usually carry a small seasonal range of vegetables, fruits and snacks and are often open 24h.
- Cleanliness: The only negative point are the mountains of garbage, which are somewhat hidden or can also be found in remote barbecue areas. So you often don’t feel very comfortable camping in the wild.
- Drinking water: The tap water can not be drunk everywhere, you should always check beforehand. Since we mostly traveled away from the big cities, you sometimes come across water fountains along the way or, more often, draw wells, where it’s best to ask the residents about the quality. In the larger cities, our experience was that you have to buy water, sadly, except in Odessa there are several places where you can fill spring water. Half of the neighborhood meets there with 20 liter canisters.
After a long 8 days in Odessa, we finally made our way to the ferry. This one doesn’t leave until midnight, but the “check-in” or wild chaos started at 4pm. First we wondered why the whole boarding takes 8 hours, now we know 😂! It started when the woman at the ticket counter showed us a wrong location for check-in on Google Maps. So we ended up at the truck check-in, where also another tourist in the car, got lost. The port employee explained the way to the driver and we are to follow him. 10 minutes later, again completely in the wrong place, we were told to put everything back. Another wrong turn and then finally arrived at the right check-in after more than an hour. Once there, we wondered how the others had found this place, since there was not a single sign on the way there.
At 6 pm, according to the ticket, the actual boarding should begin. Should…
Again and again an agent came and went by, saying something in Ukrainian, but no one knew what to do next. Finally all had to show their passports at the 1st counter and after three more stops including baggage check most could board. However, since our PCR test had expired due to the cancelled ferry, the ferry company offered us to have the test done again free of charge on site. They called in a doctor especially for us and another man. Only with the place of execution of the test they disagreed. So the port employee escorted us in zigzag once across the entire port area 🤣.
The PCR test finally done, we were allowed to enter the ferry and wait for the usher for our bikes. This takes only 5-10 minutes. Every 20 minutes the receptionist came and told us that the chief usher was still running a little late. 1 1/2 hours later he really came 😲, said there is no official place to deposit the bikes, but we should place them quasi right next to us (as if no one else could have told us this before). All the others already freshly showered and ready for dinner, we also made it to the room.
The attentive reader will have noticed that the PCR test does not make much sense 🙈. We will get the result when we enter the port of Georgia, because we will have internet connection again. We wonder what they would do if we tested positive. Will all passengers then have to be quarantined?
Adding to the long boarding time, is the fact that most of the passengers are truck drivers and all the trucks have to be parked safely.
The crossing started an hour late at 1:00 a.m. and went smoothly except for an altercation among drunken truck drivers that lasted several hours and culminated in a fight. We offered the “injured” one a Swiss Nescafé, which made him visibly happy.
After 38h with three included meals a day, we finally reached Poti 🥳. Three border officials came on board for passport control. It quickly became apparent that they, too, were struggling with the ever-changing Corona immigration laws. But everyone was very nice, even the captain organized an internet connection through his hotspot to allow passengers to fill out a form. You have to be patient, this process also took 2h.
On board we finally met other long-term travelers with whom we could talk about Georgia and the many hills / mountains. This leads us to a tip we’ve been wanting to share with you for a long time:
What if the partner is much more sportive? Can that even work on a bicycle world tour?
Since Beni has a big training advantage conditionally, we packed an elastic tow rope (approx. 5m, available in every hardware store). This has proven to be very successful. This way Beni could still exhaust himself when Nicole’s strength waned. We were then able to drive a few more kilometers and finally both fall into bed, satisfied and exhausted.
But after just a few weeks, Nicole has so much more endurance that we hardly need the tow rope anymore.
I am really proud of my darling 😊❤️!
The rope is attached in this way (see gallery):
Our journey now takes us along the Black Sea to Batumi, then we look further 😃!