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.
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!
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.
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.