Hamish & I arrived in the Crimean city of Odessa in 2011 by train from Moldova. The intention was to take an overnight train onto Sevastopol, but we had stumbled across some sort of public holiday and all trains were full for the next three days.
With heavy heart, we purchased tickets for the overnight bus journey. The thought of our impending discomfort was in the back of our mind as we spent a few enjoyable hours strolling around the Black Sea port most famous for the incredible Potemkin Steps.
I pick up the story after we had picked up our rucksacks from the train station left luggage to make our way by tram to the bus station for our anticipated hell on wheels……
The tram was as packed as earlier when we had gone to the bus station to buy our tickets, but this time we had our large and heavy rucksacks too. To say we were wedged in was an understatement. Incredibly more people got on at subsequent stops so we were now packed so tightly that we resembled one huge creature with dozens of heads & limbs!
For the entire journey I was dreading the moment that it was time to alight. Through the mass of shoulders, backs and heads packed around me, I somehow managed to spot our stop.
I was unable to get any where near a call button, but thankfully someone else requested the stop and I made my move, shoving all out of the way as I yanked my bag up and embraced it in my arms. Hamish preferred the dragging it behind him method, but the result was the same with bodies unceremoniously bashed out of the way. “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” I kept repeating with no idea whether anyone understood or believed me.
After what seemed a panicky age, we were at the top of the open door, just two metal steps between our goal and us.
Impatient new passengers were already clambering up those steps but if we didn’t get off now, we would be whisked to the next stop. There was nothing else for it but to dive for the exit. I virtually catapulted out to the pavement below, taking one of the ascenders with me, but miraculously somehow managing to stay on my feet.
Suddenly Hamish popped out behind me like he had just apparated using some of Harry Potter’s floo powder.
The startled passenger that I had taken with me gave Hamish the full force of his ire, much to my amusement as I recovered my composure. Hamish was a few seconds behind me in the composure recovery stakes and he simply went from red to redder in the face of the Ukrainian tirade, made worse by the fact that the tram doors had closed and left the commuter behind.
Hamish apologised on my behalf as I attempted to hide my mirth.
Read more of my Ukrainian adventures (Odessa, Sevastopol, Balaclava, Bakhchisaray, Simferopol, Lviv, Kiev) plus journeys in 24 other Eastern European countries by downloading my e-book On The Beaten Track.