From Ukraine to Caucasus (for you, Herbert)

This post is mainly for the ones who are thinking to travel towards east from Ukraine. It’s not a post you should take as absolute certainty, but you can find some hints from it.

From Eastern Europe, if traveling to Iran or all the -Stans, you need to cross Turkey,  Russia, or the Black Sea. I chose crossing the Black Sea from Ukraine to Georgia, from where I will continue to Armenia and Iran. The reasons I chose this route were:

Turkey is long, hot and I’ve already been there. Three bikers, who crossed Turkey in the end of August  said, that the heat was too much for them.

You need a Visa when going to Russia. That costs 50e, and can take a while. Also crossing from Russia to Georgia is problematic. One traveler said, that he couldn’t take even the ferry from Sochi to Poti,  so he needed to go first from Russia to Turkey, and then to Georgia.

The ferry company I took was called Ukr Ferry,  and they operate every week from Iliytchevsk (near Odessa) to Batumi (in 2009 it was Poti, so it changes now and then). The price for the cheapest place in a cabin was 1350 Hrivnas/ 135 EUR plus 100 UH for the service fee. Bicycle is for free, and the price included pretty tasty meals at 8.30, 13.00, and 18.30. Ferry also had an expensive bar (0,5 l vodka for 10e) and info desk with some expensive toiletry. Ferry itself is a bit old, but everything is in order; cleanliness is ok, stuff speaks English & cabins have showers and toilettes.

The online booking didn’t work, so I booked my ticket by first calling to the main office, and then to the travel agency (on Elizavetinskaya str.+380503911391), where English/Russian/German was spoken by one helpful worker (Vladlen). If you are not in a hurry, and want to spend perhaps a week or two in Odessa, you can visit the office and do the booking there. Booking a ticket without the travel agency is I think impossible.  But if you are in “hurry”, do call in advance, because the passenger list has to be ready two days before the departure. Ferries leave once a week irregularly on Monday/ Tuesday/Wednesday (depending on Cargo).

After you receive the ticket, (paid in cash to travel agency), you’ll wait a day or two for  SMS or email from the travel agency about the check-in time. You’ll also get very silly-looking driving directions to the port, so watch out, the distances are not exact. The real distance from the main railway station is around 23km, not 32km as the directions tells you.Meeting point should look like this (This Meeting point has changed later on into a bigger building a bit further on the road):

If you are on a bicycle, you will follow a minibus for 1,5 km from the given meeting point (picture) to the terminal, where you will wait for few hours doing nothing. Then you’ll go through customs and passport check-in, and then you can drive to the boat. Ferry leaves much later than the check-in is, but no worries, you will get the key to the cabin (if you meet some interesting people in the waiting room, just share the cabin), and meals by the schedule. I would suggest you take your own sweets and alcohol beverage with you, to save up some cash.

The ferry ride itself was nice, lasting around 40 hours. Passport control in Georgia was smooth, lasting maybe half an hour. And finally, from Georgia you can  continue to Armenia, Turkey or Azerbaijan without problems.  Though if you continue to Iran, it’s advisable to get the visa beforehand.

My trip continues very soon to Armenia, because the tent has arrived, and everything seems to be in order.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted September 13, 2010 at 11:38 am | Permalink | Reply

    hi lukas,
    i already replied to this post but erroneously commenting another post. just wanted to say thank you for this personal post with extremely helpful and valuable information for the preparation of my next year’s asia trip.
    take care!
    herbert
    p.s.
    i follow your trip and reports with great interest!

  2. Posted September 13, 2010 at 11:43 am | Permalink | Reply

    it’s me again, lukas,
    now with a question: would you by chance know whether there is also a ferry connection from sevastopol or yalta on the krim peninsula? because my idea is to make a stop-over there with my girlfriend flying in before my proceeding to georgia, expecting the krim peninsula to be a nicer place for this than odessa.
    any idea?
    regards,
    herbert

    • Posted September 13, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I believe some ferry connections were going from Odessa to Crimea, don’t know when and how though. From Sevastopol abroad is at least to me no no. But for this info the best forum is thorn tree.

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