I’ll never forget my first trip on board the ship from Odessa to Sochi. As the season was at its height then and the passenger traffic on the Odessa-Batumi line was heavy, we, Ann and I, had to reserve berths at the agency beforehand. After some three or four days of feverish preparations and expectations we were ready to start.
The ship was to sail at 2.00 p.m. on Saturday early in July. In the morning of that distinguished day I felt very excited at the thought that in a few hours I’ll be in the open sea. A little after noon we reached the pier and saw our ship. What a beauty she was!
The pier was crowded with cars, trucks loaded with luggage, passengers arriving and hurrying on board, and well-wishers seeing them off. It was really thrilling going up the gangway. Up and up we went until we reached the main deck. And there from high above we looked at the people that seemed so tiny down below, crowding on the pier.
When we got on deck, we were attended by a sailor who took us down to our cabin. Inside the ship there was a vast labyrinth of aisles that ran into each other and out again and seemed to lead nowhere. But we tripped along following the sailor, and soon he brought us to our cabin. It was a small room with two berths in it, and against the wall, just below the porthole, stood a little table.
But we had no time to look around because we were eager to go back on deck. There, all was bustle and confusion as before. A noisy excitement was kept up from one end of the ship to the other. Shortly we heard the ship’s siren warning the passengers and their well-wishers to say their last good-bye to each other. After some 10-15 minutes the ship weighed anchor and slowly slipped out of the harbour, leaving Odessa behind wrapped in a blue noonday haze.
As soon as the land faded from sight, we went exploring the ship. It had all modern conveniences and a wide choice of entertainment facilities. There was a good library that could afford a fair amount of reading matter. Then there were three restaurants that took care of the passengers’ appetites, a cinema-hall, billiard rooms and what not.
We soon felt remarkably tired with walking up and down from one deck to another and were very glad to occupy two deck-chairs that happened
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