Black Sea Ferry II: Ship Delays and Moldovan Red Wine

Odessa is a great place; in small doses, or possibly large ones in the summer, I would imagine. It is vibrant, down at heel, slightly seedy with great architecture and a fantastic variety of restaurants. It has the curious feel of a Summer Resort Out Of Season in November, and seems to seek a purpose. It is a walking place; few indoor attractions to keep one amused, although I am tempted (possibly because it is going to be Day Three) to visit the Odessa Museum of Regional Studies tomorrow. It actually sounds interesting “depicting the originality of Odessa during different periods of history; “Old Odessa”, “Odessa in the Second World War”, “Odessa Cultures”, “Multinational Odessa” (and I think my favourite(to be)), “Brother Cities”.

Who could resist.

That, and a visit to the railway station; always a source of amusement.

Bad news today or at least news that was slightly disarming. The ship to Georgia is late due to inclement (probably foul, given the size of the craft) on the Black Sea has delayed its arrival by two days. Our departure is now scheduled for Wednesday at 1800, some twenty-four hours late. This itself is not a great issue, although the Odessa Regional Museum had better be blockbuster, it is the thought of a Black Sea full of the storms so well described in the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It is, after all, November.

It is also odd that a journey previously supposed to take 60 hours is now scheduled for a mere 40; is this the marine equivalent of “tailwinds” or do they hold something in reserve? I will find out. At any rate, we are currently due into Poti at 1400 on Friday, and I would like to get to The Big City that night. I think the last bus may have gone, and I am relying on my personal charms over the forty hours of sailing to persuade an Iranian, Azerbaijani or Georgian trucker to take me to Tbilisi. We will see.

The red wine tonight, on the other hand was lovely. Still smarting from two glasses of truly toxic Bulgarian plonk last night, I headed to a different cafe for dinner tonight.

I have to add that last night’s expedition to the 4 Bulgarians was pretty good. In particular the soup which was a “Bulgarian soup from veal trip cooked with the addition of fresh milk and spicery. Served with garlic, vinegar and bitter red pepper. Recommended for extreme sensation lovers.” Clearly, I could not resist, and it was fine; a touch disappointing, perhaps, given its wind-up, and the addition of the word “extreme” misplaced, but it was otherwise fine. Their house-red was awful; but I still managed two glasses.

Tonight, however, I ventured to a different and more local cafe, and had a great meal; soup, mutton and a coffee with three (3) glasses of a lovely house Moldovan Cabernet set me back $18, and I will probably go back tomorrow.

I like Odessa; it is probably a good thing as I have another thirty-six hours to enjoy myself, but it is interesting. It is a place to ponder; there are so many questions about the development of post-Soviet societies and fascinating to catch a glimpse of Warsaw and Odessa in consecutive days, and wonder how much the influence and support of Europe has assisted the Polish growth. It is also interesting to wonder about the death of the black market, and with it the ability of so many to survive in a non-Dollar/Euro economy.

More on these ideas later.