After 430 miles across Turkey yesterday we are now 175 miles from the south coast. It is cold and wet here at 1000m but should hopefully be mid 20's and sunshine on the coast. We are back in the roof tent at last after 3 weeks in Hotels and hopefully now back in the tent for the next month or so. Camping at a truck stop, with a very nice (and very clean) little restaurant with Wifi!
After leaving Elista we headed down to Sochi and after 10 days of cold (we found out later that it was max 5 degrees for 5 days and -5 at night) we were amazed to see people in shorts and T shirts as we approached Sochi. Found a Hotel near the port and found it remarkably easy to book on the ship (except having to trawl round numerous cash machines to raise the funds to pay as they only accepted cash!
Sochi is a mess with all the building work going on and traffic is a nightmare, but the general oppinion appears to be that they will not be ready for the Winter Olympics!
Waiting for the boat we met up with a 4 car team of Chinise going overland from the middle of China to Poland via Turkey. Getting on the boat took ages and they insisted on us taking everything out of the vehicle and passing it through the xray machine. But the Chinese got it worse as they had the cars loaded on the boat when they decided they wanted to search again, had all the cars off, everything out and even removed one of the roof boxes after it had been emptied!!!
The sea was fortunately like a mill pond, even in the middle, and the bunk beds very comfortable so had a good nights sleep, despite the opressive heat in the room. As we had tea in the lounge one of the Chinese asked if they could interview us, turns out it is an joint expedition involving CCTV (Chinese TV) and a motoring magazine wanting to promote tourism. It is unheard of in China for people of our age to travel like us and they were facinated and promised we would be included in their 30 minute television program and featured in the magazine - fame at last. They also gave us one of the magazines and a really nice framed picture of the Monkey King.
After a long wait on the Turkish side we were through without hassle (except getting lost in the port on the way out) and off along the Turkish Black Sea Coast.
After 165 miles the sun was setting and after not seeing a camp site for miles we stopped and asked at a restaurant. They cleared a pile of wood and beckoned us into the garden, right by the sea, we pitched the tent, had a few beers, a delicious meal and the best bottle of wine since we left.
Next morning they invited us round to their home for breakfast and the discussion came round to ages, when they found out I would be 60 in 10 days the Mother and daughter disappeared and came back with a peice of chocolate cake with a candle on it singing happy birthday! They also gave us a bag of Trabzon (Turkish) Tea and a monster bag of hazel nuts picked from their trees.
We were tempted to stay another night, but the clouds were gathering so we decided to stick to the plan and head for the south.
Arriving at Sochi
The beach at Sochi
Sochi from the boat
A storm gathers over the Russian Black Sea coast as we leave
Interviewed by the Chinese on the boat
Arriving at Trabzon
The Cinese vehicles
The Chinese team
The view from our camp spot at the restaurant