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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

Van and the train to Istanbul

Posted Sun, 22 Feb 2015 11:04:26 GMT Turkey Traveling "Kurdistan"

In Van I met Peter (our "host" from Trabzon) and we discovered Van together. I really enjoyed to be free from the hospitality, as I was never able to walk somewhere without my host taking care of me or helping me. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the hospitality, but it had some downsides. For example, I was always asked to sit down, as it is considered rude for the host to sit down first and my hosts always wanted to sit.

Van is famous for "Kahvaltı" and its cats. Kahvaltı is a buffet style breakfast with olives, tahin, honey, vegetables, cheeses and some egg dishes. The cats are famous because of their dichromatism: One green and one blue eye.

  • Van cat with dichromatism

  • A truck full of garlic ❤

I took a train from Tatvan to Ankara: Vangölü Express. It was one of the most beautiful train rides I ever did. It goes through gorgeous nature, mountains, lakes, little cracks and big rivers. Even though it has express in its name, it only goes about 40-50 km/h which makes it a very smooth and silent ride. It took me about 29 hours for the ~1000 km trip.

On the train I was staying in a four person courgette compartment together with a kurdish, a turkish and one iranian guy. The iranian guy was suffering from pain after a surgery to fix some problems with his spine. His spine was damaged from torture in Iran because he is member of the christian minority in Iran. He and his wife where on the way to the United Nations office in Ankara to go to some western country and start a new life.

We had a good time, laughed a lot and wondered why there's so much stupid people and idiots in the world who can't get along (we were two muslims, one christian and one atheist).

  • My train to Ankara

  • Sinan, crazy kurdish guy I met on the train

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