Europe has Rivieras aplenty. For many travellers, the word Riviera evokes images of the French coast from St Raphael to Menton. It might therefore come as a surprise to learn that the term Riviera is actually Italian in origin and was first applied to the Ligurian coast east of Menton towards Genoa and beyond.
But we should not forget the Black Sea, which has along its north coast a Riviera style coastline that is surely the match of its Mediterranean namesakes. The Russian city of Sochi may be a little brash, but it is tidying itself up these days in preparation for the next Winter Olympics which will be staged in the mountains behind the coastal resort. The finest stretch of the coast is east of Sochi, particularly between Adler and Sukhumi.
The first few kilometres east of Adler are in the Russian Federation, but the entire Black Sea Riviera coast east of the Psou river is in the Republic of Abkhazia. Faded resorts line the coast which is backed by magnificent mountain scenery dominated by the 3350 metre high Mount Agepsta.
Since we first featured this stretch of coast in hidden europe magazine in 2006, we have often been asked how easy it would be to visit the coast of Abkhazia. The answer is, with the right visas, very easy. There is even a daily train service from Adler to Sukhumi. The run along the coast takes just over four hours, giving extraordinary glimpses of the landscapes celebrated in the writing of Fazil Iskander.
Getting hold of the timetable for that train service is not easy. So, to assist would-be explorers of the Black Sea Riviera, we attach it below.
Abkhazian Train Timetable
|Veseloe (RU)||a.||0835||1125||Afon Tshyts||d.||1656|
notes on the timetable
All stations shown, with the exception of Veseloe and Adler, are in the territory of Abkhazia. Veseloe and Adler are in Russia. Border formalities take place at Veseloe and Tsandripsh.
P = Periodic train. Runs only on selected days, as shown in the Russian rail schedules. Conveys through carriages from Moscow Kazanskaya to Veseloe and vv. Check dates of operation carefully.
D = Daily train from Alder to Sukhumi and vv. On selected days has connection at Adler from train 75 (Moscow Kurskaya to Adler) or to train 76 (Adler to Moscow Kurskaya). To ascertain the days on which connections are available at Adler check the Russian rail schedules.
This information is provided by hidden europe in good faith. We believe it to be correct as of March 2010. If travellers find that the service has changed, we would be much indebted if they could advise us.
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries