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Pole to Pole

Day 40: Odessa to Istanbul

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleOur bow swings round, pointing for a moment straight up the 192 stone steps, called the Potemkin Steps after a dramatic sequence shot on them in Eisenstein's film Battleship Potemkin, which rise grandly from the port to the tree-lined esplanade. A staircase into the USSR. Then we are turning away from this warm, unassuming city and slowly out of the immense dock area, past the hydrofoils they call Comets and Meteors which race about the harbour, the grey battlecruisers and a vast Soviet freighter improbably called Mister Michael. As we run slowly south-westwards along the low shadowy hills of the Black Sea coast, I enjoy one of the great pleasures of travel: exploring a new ship. The Junost is a rag-bag. The cabin space, which is shared, is cramped and basic. The lavatories are indescribably filthy, and I pray I don't have to use them for anything but the most cursory visits, but the main deck is a very congenial space, with a strip wood floor and a number of spacious and superior deckchairs, complete with footrests. Slung over the stern of the ship is what looks like a hastily erected shed, fashioned from corrugated plastic and painted brown. Inside is a small bar and a job lot of swivel chairs upholstered in red nylon. As well as serving nothing useful like beer and wine but only the dreaded hard-currency tariff of champagne, vodka and brandy, it embodies every fire risk known to man.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 40
  • Country/sea: USSR
  • Place: Odessa
  • Book page no: 89

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