We had reached the last port we were stopping at on the Turkish coast of the Black Sea which was Hopa, a commercial harbour.
We were visiting Ciha Castle. Up into mountain’s, another road, well it wasn’t a road more of a wide footpath or was probably built for horse and carts but definitely not for cars in particular mini buses. We stopped so far up and then we were to walk the rest of the way. Ian, for once, had some sense and stayed with the mini buses along with some other sensibly minded people, already sensing this was going to be more of a climb.
We started the walk and then went off the dirt track road. It got harder and harder with the track being some down trodden greenery and rocks. I should have realised when I saw the guide with a very large knife in his hand needed to cut his way through that this wasn’t your usual trek. I kept looking for David and Sarah of Wandering Star, as this walk was definitely one of those that you were told not far and it will be easy. I got a stone’s throw from the top and where the castle was, but along with some others we had to retreat back down. We were told later that no international tourists had ever been up to the castle, I now know why.
We next visited the Mencuna waterfalls which were spectacular. They are about 90metres high and Turkey’s highest. After our mountain trek earlier we were told this was just a 700metre walk, uphill mind you. We’d been walking 10 minutes and then saw the sign which said 500metres to the waterfall. It was worth the walk up though.
We were heading to Poti in Georgia just for a couple of days. We were leaving at 6am but we had to check out of Turkey first. We got our passports back at 2am, so not much sleep. We had just moored up and a guy came up to the boat and said “Hi Ian”. Now Ian was a little taken aback as he didn’t know the guy. It transpires he was from the port authority and was British and he had googled the rally when he heard we were coming and found our blog. His name was also Ian, so Ian if you are reading this, Hi, it was great to meet you and chat.
We had a wonderful welcome from the town of Poti. They put on a concert for us with singing from the elder generation to the younger ones. It was a very enjoyable evening.
The next day we were due to go to Batumi, which was just over 45 miles back near the Turkish border. We weren’t able to moor up at Batumi hence the reason for being at Poti in the commercial harbour. We had checked the start time for the trip with one of the organisers and told it was 10 o’clock. Ian being slow in the morning, so I was trying to gee him up to get us to the buses as we’d seen other people leaving about 9.45. We finally left the boat at 10am, rushing along as the buses were five minutes away. We arrived and no buses or people in sight, so after a few choice words between us, we came to the conclusion that the buses must have already left. Oh well it’s our own fault we were late. So off we went to discover what Poti had to offer. It turns out that the start time had in fact changed, which we weren’t made aware of and we were 25 mins early. But we had the day to ourselves which wasn’t such a bad thing.
All roads lead to Poti Cathedral which is in the centre of town next to the park. The location was chosen by Niko Nikoladze , the mayor of Poti, so that it could be seen from every side of the town. The cathedral was built in 1906-07 and is an imitation of the Hagia Sopia in Istanbul but on a reduced scale.
We also took a walk down to Poti Lighthouse which was built by “Easton Amos & Sons” an English company in 1862. It was then transported by steamship to Georgia where is was assembled by British engineers. It is made of cast iron, is 36.6m high and has a range of 17nm. There are 160 steps to the top. Just alongside the lighthouse is a very large cemetery. Each of the grave stones shows a picture of the departed and some had tables and chairs set in stone/marble for their loved ones to come and sit with them. What a lovely thing.
We were now off back to Hopa in Turkey. By the time we arrived back at Hopa we had made the decision to cut short our participation in the rally. Unfortunately, we didn’t obey orders, yes they were the words used, although we had informed the necessary person of our intentions and reasons. Orders and obey don’t belong on a sailing rally. The programme was very busy, plus a few other things and so we decided to do the return journey along the Black Sea coast solo and take things at our own pace. We are glad we’d spent a month with the rally as we saw some places we wouldn’t have done on our own and we had the pleasure of meeting a great crowd of people. We appreciate all the hard work that goes into putting a rally like this together and we thanked the organisers for doing so and we wished the group all the best for the rest of their trip.