The Black Sea

cover image for The Black Sea

Started the trip to Crimea. First gasoline break on the outskirts of Odessa, and then on the road. Sun is shining. (2004-07-16 10:50 - Bergie)

Crossed river Bug. My map has ukrainian place names translitterated to russian. For example, Mikolajv is show as Nikolaev. (2004-07-16 12:18 - Bergie)

Herson. Some chocolate and suhariki on the shore of Dnipro and I'm ready to continue. Passed some italian bikers on the way. (2004-07-16 13:12 - Bergie)

Krasnoperekopsk, Republic of Crimea. There was a special road tax of 10 gryven. Also, saw first road signs to Georgia. (2004-07-16 15:14 - Bergie)

Sevastopol. The endless golden fields of Ukraine gave way to rolling hills and wineyards. Last 50km has been sun and pleasant twisties. (2004-07-16 18:42 - Bergie)

I'm booked to nice, recently renovated hotel Sevastopol on Bolshaya Morskaya. Now touring the piers, trying to find an ok restaurant. (2004-07-16 20:10 - Bergie)

Last pictures of the huge Sevastopol WW2 monument, then heading over the hills to Jalta. Looks like this will be a hot day. (2004-07-17 10:49 - Bergie)

Ice cream break on a view point on the hills. The road is splendid but filled with traffic cops. Again had to pay a 17 gryven bribe for passing. (2004-07-17 11:56 - Bergie)

Jalta. Found Chekhov's home museum after little adventuring on the narrow winding streets. (2004-07-17 13:08 - Bergie)

Too hot to stay in one place. Started engine and headed to Alushta or Feodosija. Odometer at 59378km in Jalta. (2004-07-17 13:38 - Bergie)

Solnechgorsk. The swim in the Black Sea was refreshing. Now I have to dry off for a moment and then continue to Feodosia. (2004-07-17 15:20 - Bergie)

Port Krim outside Kerch. The police at the checkpoint is taking forever with my driver's license to decide whether to let me to the port. (2004-07-17 19:42 - Bergie)

After making a huge fuss about not having russian language bike papers for almost 40 minutes, it all boiled down to 50 uag bribe. Waiting ferry. (2004-07-17 20:22 - Bergie)

Amazing coincidence: Viking ship captain Koivusalo is now in Tbilisi, Georgia with a boat. I'll have to see if I could arrange a meeting. He is sailing on the Vittfarne expedition. (2004-07-17 20:44 - Bergie)

Switching from my Shell Russian atlas to a Freytag & Berndt road map of Caucasus since I'll be crossing the Kerch channel to the region. (2004-07-17 21:42 - Bergie)

The whole border hassle took four hours. Now in Russia, getting to see how the bike runs on 92 grade fuel and seeking a hotel. (2004-07-18 01:25 - Bergie)

Novorossijsk on the foothills of Caucasus mountains. This is the southeast corner of the European subcontinent. (2004-07-18 10:25 - Bergie)

Sochi. Tomorrow morning I have to find the harbour commercial officer to ask about shipping the bike to Poti, Georgia. (2004-07-18 23:27 - Bergie)

Today's ride was also pure joy on the sunny, winding roads of the forested Caucasian foothills. And to top that, the hotel Moskva has a sauna for 250 rubles. (2004-07-18 23:29 - Bergie)

After some queuing and lots of stamps and translation help from two Carelians, I have tickets for M. Svetlov to Poti for tomorrow afternoon. (2004-07-19 10:55 - Bergie)

Here's how shipping a motorcycle from Sochi to Poti happens:

  • Visit the port commercial office (Kommercheskij obdel) and tell them you want to ship a motorcycle to Poti ("motorzikl na Poti")
  • They will want to see your vehicle papers (the ones given by Russian customs at the border)
  • They'll give you a document about exporting the bike which needs to be taken to the harbour police (militsiya)
  • The police will examine the vehicle papers and your passport and stamp the document
  • Take the document back to the commercial office and they will calculate the shipping costs
  • Pay the shipping at the office's cashier (kassa). For me the price was 100 USD
  • Take the payment receipt to the commercial office and they will give you the stamped shipping document
  • Buy regular passenger ticket to the ferry from ticket counter 3 (kassa n3). This costs about 44 USD, and requires passport and Georgian visa (I passed this by explaining that I'll get it from the border)
  • If the queue is so long that getting tickets to the same ferry seems impossible, appeal to the other passengers and explain that you must be on the same ferry as the bike, and they'll let you pass
  • Fill the regular customs declaration papers, including your motorcycle information
  • Arrive to the harbour at least hour before the ferry departs

The ship should arrive to Poti early on the wednesday morning. Then the next hassle will be getting the Georgian visa. Both Finnish foreign ministry and Georgia's government have stated that visa can be bought from the border, but the shipping agency hadn't heard of that.

I'm taking the ferry instead of riding to Georgia to avoid the trouble-ridden region of Abkhazia. Rest of Georgia should be quite safe for traveling. Horizons Unlimited has some notes on the subject.

I was contacted via SMS by the Georgian biker club Camelot MC. Would be very interesting to meet local motorcyclists.

Visit to Internet Club Noosfera allowed me to upload most photos from the Ukrainian part of the trip. Very fast connection and no upload limits, so the whole matter could be handled with 130 rubles.

Sushi dinner in Sakura on ul. Vorovskogo. Impressive menu. Then to Kino Sputnik to watch the Russian vampire action flick Nochnoj dozor. (2004-07-19 19:23 - Bergie)

The bike's tank is filled and postcards sent so I'm ready for the ferry. Some guy paid my gas when he heard where I'm going. (2004-07-20 13:05 - Bergie)

In these touristic places it would be possible to finance the trip by allowing people to pose with the bike. A Harley guy charged 150rub/photo. (2004-07-20 13:27 - Bergie)

Two Polish backpackers told me that the Abhazian border is closed to all but locals and UN peacekeepers. So ferry is now the only way to Georgia (2004-07-20 16:37 - Bergie)

After five hours of hassle the bike is on board M. Svetlov and we can cast off. We should arrive to Poti, Georgia in nine hours. (2004-07-20 20:09 - Bergie)

Setting sun has painted the Caucasian hills into purple colors. We watch the distancing lights of Sochi as the ship rolls gently onwards. (2004-07-20 20:31 - Bergie)

Port of Poti, waiting to disembark. After little sleep on a gangplank and quite many vodka toasts not really a riding feeling. (2004-07-21 06:33 - Bergie)

Waiting for fourth hour now, with no end in sight. Just had to bribe the Poti customs with 20 usd or they would've forced me to sail to Batumi. (2004-07-21 10:23 - Bergie)

After over six hours of waiting and some bribes I'm finally on Georgian soil with some laris in my pocket. (2004-07-21 12:07 - Bergie)