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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

Turkish Highline Carnival

Posted Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:24:02 GMT Traveling Turkey Climbing

I went on a spontaneous weekend trip to the Turkish Highline Carnival in Geyikbayiri, a small climbing village in the mountains close to Antalya. I was asked by a friend, I met in a bar if I want to join her with the trip. After about three week of Istanbul I could escape the city and bad weather to get some nature and sun so I joined her and we took a 12 hours bus ride to Antalya.

The people in our camp were mainly climbers, highliners and jugglers. A good mix of international and local people which made it a very nice experience. We climbed up to the highlines, watched them to their thrill and walked along a small river to get our own thrill by jumping into the cold water. We also joined a demonstration against the plans of turning the beautiful nature and climbing area into a huge mine.

  • Finally back in nature :)

  • Highlining

  • Highlining and climbing

  • Me being happy

Istanbul

Posted Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:52:23 GMT Traveling Turkey

When I arrived in Istanbul, I had the feeling to arrive back in western culture, as it was a stark contrast to the south east of turkey. It felt like I arrived in the 4th culture on my trip after Georgia, Turkey and the kurdish regions of Turkey in the south east.

I used the first days to let some impressions sink in, to develop and select my pictures, and write down some of the experiences I had in the last weeks. I slowly arrived back in western culture: I went rock climbing, tried hot yoga and attented lots of parties, concerts and contemporary art exhibitions. I also enjoyed to be finally back in a more vegetarian friendly environment with a good selection of vegetarian/vegan restaurants and cafés.

Istanbul is a very clean city compared to other cities in turkey. There’s still trash on some street corners, but not big piles and it doesn’t smell very bad, and the air is breathable as there's not much smog.

  • Ferries near Eminonü

  • Very nice grafity in Kadiköy

The public transport in Istanbul is a bit messy as I expected it for such a enormous city. The only reliable ways of transportation are the (relatively new) metro and the ferries. Every other transportation which is street based has huge delays and sometimes never reaches its destination.

Because I spent on average 2 to 3 hours a day in public transport, I imagined it would be a good greeting for people from Istanbul, to make the gesture of holding on to a handlebar with one arm up :)

  • The historic tram in Taksim

  • Sultanahmet (blue mosque)

There's an uncountable amount of cafés, bars, clubs and little shops in Istanbul. Most of them are in houses where every story is used for another venue. Mostly a café or store at the ground floor, some restaurants and bars in the middle floors and a club or fancy restaurant at the top floor.

Similar shops are always next to each other, so I found streets where you could only find shops selling music instruments, leds, paintings, antik chairs or supplies for a chemical lab.

  • Trippy plastic trash in a passage

  • Lots of different chillies at the spice market

After being in the east for some time before coming to Istanbul, I could feel that the peace might be only temporary.

I met lots of artists, engineers and other kind of intellectuals who openly made plans to leave turkey or already married someone from Europe or North America so they have the possibility to escape.

They are escaping because of missing freedom, because of missing women rights and also to escape the mandatory military service, which you could otherwise only escape by paying 30.000TL(~11.000€).

They see future conflicts between the advocates and opponents of Erdoğan and his political ideas. After some talking I also saw a potential conflict between the kurdish people, who work as guest workers on the fields in the west, and the jobless Syrian refugees who might do that job for even less money. Last summer you could earn about 30TL(~11€) for one day of fieldwork as a guest worker.

  • No alcohol around mosques

  • Eminonü Bridge and Galata tower

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