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Posted Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:17:31 GMT Traveling Turkey Georgia "Kurdistan" Caucasus

In total the trip had a distance of about 6500 km with different ways of transportation: train, (mini)bus, hitchhiking (car, truck, motorcycle), hot air balloon, ferry, taxi, tram, funicular, metro and lots of walking.

Pros and cons of travelling turkey and georgia in winter

Posted Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:17:30 GMT Traveling Turkey Georgia "Kurdistan" Caucasus

Lots of people asked me, why I decided to travel Georgia and Turkey in winter. They thought it's a bad idea, because they have this picture of sunny beaches in their head when they think of turkey. After most of my travels, I can conclude that it was a good decision (I had to think longer to come up with disadvantages than for the advantages):

First the most obvious one, it's colder in winter. The main disadvantage I can see there, is that my backpack is slightly heavier because of winter clothes. The advantages though are a lot bigger: It's not extremely hot and there are no mosquitoes.

There are way less tourists, that's a big advantage as it makes the contact with locals a lot easier and it also makes the whole trip about half as expensive as it would be in the summer season.

Now to sports, it's not as much fun to go swimming and there's no open diving bases. But you can go skiing and most of the time it's warm enough for hiking without too much sweating and water carrying. Sometimes it is too much snow for anything but drinking wine, but in summer it can also be too hot to go out of the house, I would call this one a draw.

The selection of fresh fruits and vegetables is smaller in winter, but that's also the same at home and I prefer the vegetables of my CSA project I get in summer over the "natural" Monsanto vegetables you get in turkey.

  • Skiing in Gudauri

  • Swimming in the black sea

Black Sea

Posted Fri, 06 Feb 2015 20:59:55 GMT Caucasus Traveling Georgia Turkey

Eventually we left Tbilisi to go west to the black sea. We took a nice train on the day, so we could see how the landscape and climate changed on the way. In some places between Tbilisi and Batumi there was no snow and it looked warm, but when we arrived at the black see, we were greeted by palm trees and snow.

  • Train from Tbilisi to Batumi

  • Welcome to the black sea!

Batumi is surrounded by gorgeous landscapes, mountains which end by the seaside. But the city is all about rich tourists from turkey and russia who come to play in a casino or buy cheap booze. The inner city basically consists only of casinos and hotels.

We stayed one night at a Couchsurfer, Gorgi, who was depending on Couchsurfers as a replacement for friends. That's a concept I have not heard of before, but he seems to be alright with it. I think it's based on his work as a sailor on a oil tanker every other half year (which includes all habits you would expect from a cliché sailor). His other big think is Rock'n Roll, so we had a good round of guitar riff guessing and we heard the word "fuck" about ten times a minute (10 fpm).

As I had not been at the black sea before, I had to jump it, which is very Rock'n Roll!

  • Gorgi, our couchsurfer in Batumi

  • Isn't it appealing for having a swim?

After one night and being the big attraction at the local market (Dreads are not a common thing in Georgia), Ela and me continued to Hopa, a small town directly after the turkish border, where I inadvertently wrote a couch request.

We took a Marchutka to Hopa. Transporting people doesn't seem to be the main business though, as we saw them smuggling alcohol, gasoline and tobacco. Smuggling gasoline involves a good shake of the car at the last gas station before the border. This shakes out the air of the tank and system and makes more space for gasoline, which is then sold in turkey (gas costs about twice as much in Turkey).

Hopa is a small beautiful city at the black sea. It is surrounded by green mountains and it is not touristy at all. Our Couchsurfer, Yusuf, was extremely friendly and hospitable. It was the best welcome we could get into turkey, as we had good talks about the current political situation, about Erdoğan and his plans to make turkey a more islamic country. He was well informed and teached us some basic turkish words. It felt really good to have a warm shower and sleep in a heated room, which I didn't experience in Georgia.

  • Hopa bay :)

  • Wohoo, warm weather at the sea

We only stayed for one night and continued to Trabzon by Minibüs. Trabzon is a ugly, big city with lots of dirt, smog and broken houses. We did not like it at all and Ela was getting headaches from the bad air. We stayed one night together with a Couchsurfer from Berlin, Peter, at his hosts flat. Peter was staying in Trabzon to wait for his Iranian visa so he could keep on traveling towards India.

Barboros, his host, is the most uncomplicated host I can imagine. He never bothered us, but also didn't do anything to comfort us. Barboros let Couchsurfers stay at his house and all he requested in return was some housekeeping. The next concept I never heard of before: Couchsurfers as housekeepers.

After one night in Trabzon we had to leave, at the daytime it was packed with cars and people and in the night time (after 22:00), it was a dead city. We took a overnight bus to our next station in the middle of turkey, Capadoccia.

  • Nightlife in Trabzon

  • Some fresh air in the morning and Peter, our "host"

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