Day 24 The Caspian Sea Ferry

25 Jun

Day 24 The Caspian Sea Ferry, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

Checking out of the Red Lion involved a moment of concern when the bill was announced as $700. After paying a much more reasonable but still more than planned $342, we took a 5 minute terror ride (in a taxi) to the ferry port. Relieved to see bikes still present and unmolested, we went to the ticket office (a man in a hut). The ferry is here, but can’t dock because of high wind (it’s a little breezy). Come back 2 (2 hours? 2 o’clock?). An american couple on bicycles arrive to see if the Aktau ferry is here. It isn’t. They’ve been cycling for 9 months. 2 hours later, same story. This time the man gets his daughter on the phone to translate. She tells us what he managed to say last time, the only difference being 5 instead of 2. We kill time till 5. Try a cafe where it takes 2 hours for the waitress to fail to serve us. Back to the ferry. Still no boat, more waiting. Trying to sleep on the bike. Eventually, get sold ticket. Dude makes big deal of reducing the price, even gives up back $10 "for vodka". Of course he’s probably charged us way over the real rate and pocketed the difference. $190 each doesn’t seem to bad. More waiting. The ferry appears, docks, and nothing happens for what seems like 3 days. Then some fat idiot extracts another $10 from us for who knows what, says port over and over. Then suddenly a customs check. They tell us to take luggage off and put it through the scanner. We take about a third. Idiot thinks my gps is a radio and for a minute it looks like trouble, then nothing. The train finishes loading. We roll on, tie down the bikes, captain takes passports, annoying. Discover we have cabin. It is gross. Mad woman shows us the toilet. It is like a horror film. Still waiting for boat to move. Now after 2 am. This doesn’t even begin to describe much waiting and bureaucracy we’ve endured today.