Our Russian cargo boat - Istanbul, Turkey


Blowing out the last of the smoke in my lungs, I looked along the deck. The banging and whirring of machinery filled the port-side. 12 hours of waiting. 12 hours of over-thinking, worrying.

Taking a ferry across the Black Sea seemed like an adventurous thing to do at the time. Turkey to Ukraine on a Russian cargo boat – what fun we thought! We had bought the ticket from a well-hidden office in a backstreet of Istanbul in a mixture of sign language and broken English. Two days later we headed for the port at what we thought was the allotted hour, and here we were on board in a boat named in Cyrillic.

‘I hope it’s the right one.’ I thought, trying to decipher the white fading letters.

Four sailors dressed in full uniform were talking in Russian about 50 metres to my left. Gesticulating furious at one another.

‘I hope they’re nice.’ I thought nervously, fumbling in my pocket for another cigarette. Men in uniform always make me slightly nervous. Would they get bored and see a bearded white tourist in a place where he shouldn’t be? What is the Russian for: ‘for the love of god, stop!’

The smooth smoke crept reassuringly down my throat. The sun on its descent shed shards of light glistening across the water. Measured footsteps approached me from behind.

‘The man in our room seems nice.’ I heard Ania say. ‘I didn’t understand a word he said but still.’

Five months before I had been working as a cog in a wheel, pushing paper from left to right. Now I was looking down upon the Bosphorus and forward to a trip into the unknown.

As I stared across the water, and the sun began to dip out of sight, the clunking sounds of the machinery began to die one by one. Words were being exchanged between the other passengers only to be interrupted by the sound of a klaxon.

I watched my cigarette arc out over the water and descent to the watery void.

‘Here we go then.’

Our Russian cargo boat - Istanbul, Turkey, Reisefieber

written by: Jon

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