Monthly Archives: August 2011

Weekly Photo Challenge: Entrance

Gergeti Trinity Church – Georgia, 2011

 

 

Georgia Gallery

Georgia

After planning our trip with Anıl, at last we were on the way. Drawing lines on a map and saying “we go there and there” is an easy job. Now it’s time to do this in  real world, not on a imaginary map.

   Before we left Bursa -our hometown- we made sign ‘Tokyo’ as it’s a well-known city and at the end of the continent. That sign worked pretty well on our journey. People were trying to read the sign and it was a surprising for them. Thanks to the sign we didn’t wait so much.
We didn’t have a map for Turkey and we weren’t quite sure about the road. That’s why we made some zigzags in Turkey and extended our trip until Samsun. We had almost 10 rides. It was night when we reach Samsun, instead of hitchhiking over-night we decided to sleep next to highway.

Next day on our way to Sarp (border) some people thought we were foreigners, some of them invite us for a tea, some gave us a bread. After slowing down by the teas and bread it was night when we reach Turkish-Georgian border (Sarp). There was a huge line for truck. Our driver had to wait 8 hours in this line. We left him and walked until the border. But we decided to camp at the coast next to border. After the sunrise which made our tent like a sauna we went to swim and we were ready for Georgia.

It took us some minutes to cross the border. We asked about the Georgian-Russian border, whether it was open or not for Turkish citizens. Border-guards said ‘it was open’. After hearing many times border was open only for CIS citizens, it was a kind of relief to hear this from an official. After the border we reach Batumi with a nice car. Weather was so hot and humid all the time, also in Batumi. That’s why we didn’t  stay there and left for Tbilisi with a hope it wouldn’t be so humid. As it was weekend many people go to Batumi to swim, because of that there was a huge traffic-jam until Tbilisi. Even the Batumi-Tbilisi road is the best road in Georgia is still has to be better.Georgian drivers can drive quite crazy by the way.
Most of the Georgian’s are proud of their hospitality and it’s great hospitality when you visit villages. But we couldn’t find this hospitality in the couchsurfing Tbilisi group and end up on a hillside of Tbilisi. We had a quite nice view, even the richest Georgian don’t have. But we wake up in a sauna again thanks to the sun. It was time to go to mountains to find the cooler weather. Luckily we found a quite nice jeep which was going to Kazbegi -our destination near the Russian border.
Our driver stopped in some places like Ananuri.

In Georgia you can see many christian crosses on the hills. But Georgian cross is a little bit different. If you like to read history of it and see how it’s look like, here we go…

We have seen many structure’s from soviet times, roads, tunnels and statues are still in use, but in bad condition. This was one of them.
After the soviet union corruptions was everywhere in Georgia. That’s why Georgia couldn’t move forward, but I believe Georgia deserves better. Caucasus is just great, tourism can work pretty-well there. But this tourism will also destroy the culture slowly. Now you can see many constructions, especially in Batumi. Many casinos popping-up there. Many people from Turkey are visiting Batumi just for casinos. For my selfish reasons as a traveler I wouldn’t like to see tourism anywhere, but Georgia can use tourism and its money for better life standards.
Even the Kazbegi was one of the touristy place to visit in Georgia, no-one bothered us when we camped in a park. In a touristy places in Turkey, many times we’ve been kicked out by local quest house owners who didn’t want free-loaders or let’s say they tried to kick us out. 🙂
 We had a really nice camping place in a forestry park, some nice people from Belarus and Poland have joined us for a cup of tea. Next day we hiked up to Gergeti Trinity church on the

hill. We cursed Newton because of his discovery of Gravity. 🙂 our backpacks were getting heavier with every steps we took. But we reached the our nice camping place. Probably Kazbegi is quite famous in Poland. Because more than

15 people from Poland has joined us in the camping place and we were the only turkish people. As we were from Turkey we made a turkish tea and played tavla even there. 🙂

Next day we hiked near the Gergeti glacier, we didn’t go so close. It was the day to move to Russia.

 But long story short we couldn’t manage to cross the border. Turkish citizens don’t need visa for Russia, but we faced the truth… all the borders in Caucasus is open only for CIS citizens, not for us. It was really disappointing for us. Then we  went back to Tbilisi same day. We visited some consulates and searched about other options to get in Russia. There are ferries from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan, but on the internet we found the prices 200 Dollars which was quite much for us, also we would need visa for Azerbaijan and we didn’t really feel like waiting for visa in Tbilisi for 5 days.
Other option could be Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan and then Russia. But we found out Turkmen visa is really hard to get and can be expensive as well. After this disappointing infos we started to travel without knowing where we are going. We hitchhiked the cars wherever they are going, first day we ended up Mtskheta and attacked by the ants in our camping place. Then we move to west, maybe we could find some boats from Turkey to Russia, but again it wasn’t so cheap.
 There are cheaper boats to Ukraine, we thought about going there. But we would need visa for it. At last we ended up in our hometown Bursa. After searching the options for Russia, the best one was flying to Krasnodar. So we booked our flight and waiting for it here in Turkey.
We failed as a hitchhiker, hopefully it will be the first and last one. Now we are making better researches four our trip, not to face similar problems.
Ünsal

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