Trabzon to Tbilisi
Trip Start Dec 17, 2005
28Trip End Jan 17, 2006
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Trabzon - Tbilisi
price: 30 ^
duration: 20 h
carrier: Georgian Railways
going from Trabzon to Hoppa to Sars to Batumi by little busses called "ìàðøóòêà" (Marschutka)
hints: from Trabzon to the border, use the little busses rather than a direct bus from Trabzon to Tbilisi. they are much more comfortable and cleaner. then continue from the border (Sars) to Batumi by bus as well. from there go on to Tbilisi by train. the train is very comfortable and newly equipped. try to travel with the marschutkas during the day!!!
Crossing the border from Turkey to Georgia.
Lonely stars in ancient heavens
Securing travelers with blazing eyes,
Hustling preciousness on dusty roads
Intersecting strings of life,
Vivid colours dance in obscurity's lap,
Souls frolic above the infinite fresh.
Fly up, up above the sleeping clouds,
Paint happiness on the firmament.
With feet whiter than snow
Lighter than innocence
Swifter than lightness.
You unburdened spirits
Stay, don't leave again
Sport me not!
Exhale eternal thoughts
to parched minds.
Feeble images of trucks and busses are flashing by outside. Dark air-woven clouds push each other through the window pane. Covers of trailers rush through the glass like colourful pencil strokes. She's asleep. We are driving trough a tunnel already. Darkness everywhere. It is not pitchblack. Light enters from somewhere. Occasionally the cabin of a truck is lit, leaving candlelike impression on my retina. Driving on the left lane. Oncoming traffic couldn't make way for us. Arab flute music roars from the loudspeacers at an unbearable volume. Georgians and Turkish are smoking inside the bus, leaving no air to breathe. Baidi is still trying to sleep. She doesn't feel so well. Her small head wanders from my shoulder over the window-pane to my lap. Heat permeates the tiny atmosphere of our transport, bathing my forehead in sweat.
NEED HIGH QUALITY PHOTOS?
We had arrived at the city of Trabzon a couple of hours before. Bright sunshine washed the Black Sea underneath us. Ships as small as ants swam, seemingly at a halt. What the sailors must have thought when they saw the strip of condensed water left by our aircraft. What were they doing at this moment? Fishing, smoking a pipe, watching the sea? Maybe they had left their families for Christmas, maybe they were lonely old or young sailors. Sailing into a better future. Sailing away from a worse past. Soon the mighty feet of giant-sized mountains burst open the crystal clear surface of the sea. Snow whit peaks crowned village scenery. Landscape drank the nutritous black water and grew beautiful. Quickly we could detect streets, houses, cars, people. For a moment the engines of the plane howled. It tilted. All portholes were filled with all shades of blue. Then we sank into a soft landing. Applause went through the cabin like. I felt like in Brazil.
Small trucks pulled our luckage into a narrow hall where we picked it up. Where was my knife? I looked around and discovered a police man playing with the enormously sized blade. Instantly I came towards him, demanding the dagger back. Subsequent to some opaque remarks I received it, hid it at the very bottom of my rucksack at once. Having gathered our belongings and vital information, we rode to the center of Trabzon on a taxi. As we stepped off the car, people began staring at us immediately. Baidi was quite the attraction. Chinese beauty meets Turkey. We went inside the ticket office to purchase billets to Tbilisi for twenty-five dollars each. We took all the valuable things with us, leaving the backpacks in the agency.
We were at the lower part of the town, close to the port. Turning left, we ascended a street full of people and goods. Twenty meters up, we saw utensiles designed for traditional preparation of Turkish coffee. Tin cups. We went inside. Surely, people in Turkey were not prepared for Baidi's aggressive style of bargaining. She looked at him and smiled innocently, demanding much lower a price than he could afford. He tried to send her away, without success.
Naturally, she didn't give up. Not only did she press down the price more than thirty percent, she wanted to pick three coffee cans of a specific size. The guy pretended not to have the size. He said:"I'm sorry". Unfortunately I had already paid with my credit card. The difference in size was of minor importance. Argueing further for a bit, finally she gave in and took three cans. The clerk was happy to see us out of his store. Baidi was agitated. "Wait, until we get back. He's gonna have the can I want. He won't forget us, for sure."
We stopped at a supermarket, investing our last turkish Lira. Prices were almost as high as in Europe.
Continueing our exploration, we crossed the main square of Trabzon (name?), diving into the center of trade and commerce. Window panes full of beautiful things, mostly jewelry. The blue eyes (name in turkish?). We went inside a shop and stayed over an hour, marveling at the beauty of Turkish jewelry making. Baidi went to the toilet with the female shop keeper. We found it really difficult to find toilets for woman. A secret that didn't open up during our time in Trabzon.
Following the successful shopping, we descended to the Black Sea. On our way we stopped at the coffee can shop. "HA! I told you, " Baidi exlcaimed. Different Coffee cans were on display now, among them the ones we wanted. The clerk didn't even get up from his wooden chair. He just saw her and understood. With a movement of his hand he gave her to understand to exchange the can and leave immediately thereafter. Baidi was happy, because she had been right. Full of joy.
Before boarding the bus, we visited a Turkish gas station. Then the roughest part of our journey began.
if you want to find out more about the ancient city of Trabzon, visit the Trabzon Wikipedia entry
We arrive at a rusty iron gate. Watchmen prevent our entrance. The conductor leaves the bus for a moment. They talk. Shortly after the bus enters a fenced and barb-wired area. The Border. "Baidi, wake up!" I whisper into her ear, stroking her softly. Slowly her mind awakes. She starts talking in a happily nervous manner. She's afraid we won't be able to enter Gorgia tonight.
The bus halts and everbody gets off.
Baidi: Guess now we have to spend the night here.
I: Everything will be fine, don't worry.
Baidi: (worriedly) Haha.
everyone enters the passport control. we wait in the queue, then it's her turn.
The turkish guard looks at her with amazement. Then he looks at the pages of the passport, which he is holding in his hands. He looks at Baidi once more. Then at the pages of the passport. He continues to do this for some time, while shaking his head.
Our bus driver is winking at me, smiling, doing the "thumps up" sign. He tries to tell us that everything will be all right. Somehow I feel we will meet difficulties.
"У нас есть проблем!" (we have a problem) they say.
The bus driver discusses with the border guard. Given to our poor Turkish, we are not able to understand a word. However, we get the point that it is about Baidi.
Using a mix of English and Russian, they finally tell us that she can leave Turkey, but she wont be able to enter Georgia.
"Why?" , I ask.
"No visa!", they say.
I answer: "impossible, I read it on the website of the Georgian embassy that she doesn't need a visa."
They laugh at me. as I think about it, it is narrow minded to use the argument of having read something on a website in this environment.
The bus driver takes our passports and pulls me away. Together we cross into Georgia for an instance. Baidi stays behind in Turkey.
After a lengthy explanation of the bus driver, the georgian guard laconically responds: "impossible". The bus driver looks at me with a glance that says: "Sorry, she doesn't have a visa, this will be impossible."
I can feel the trouble settling down on us. I don't want to spend the night at this border. It is cold and there are many fierce looking people hanging around. I still believe in what I have read on the website of the embassy.
The driver and the guard argue and argue. I fuel their argument with comments. After argueing they take a break and cry: "impossible", while shaking their heads.
"ok", I say, "I want to buy it."
The approach from the movies doesn't help any.
"Impossible!" I had excpected this response already.
At this point, I start to dislike Georgia a bit. In between I call Erik from my German cell phone. We discuss what to do. Nothing of a substance. He's worried. "Shit" he yells. He sounds worried and a little bit drunk. I'm sure, he does everything he can.
Finally the bus throws us out, the driver tellung us that there will be another bus going back to Trabzon in the morning. He promises that he will call the other driver and tell him to pick us up. In Trabzon we should obtain a visa for Baidi, then we can enter Georgia. This is crazy. Going back means loosing at least one day, which of course we don't want.
We have no choice. We spend the night at the border. She is cold. First she doesn't want to accept the sleeping back. Then she takes it. We sleep a bit on the floor, lying next to the heating. The guards and all travelers giving us compassionate looks. I can't sleep. So I return to the Georgian side to practise my Russian and try another way to get into the country. I do this for two or three times, I even get to meet the boss of the Sars border.
At the third time they just smile at me and tell me to stop. They have no more energy. I go back to the turkish side, talking to all kinds of people there. Some are travelers, waiting for the bus. Some have bought a car in Germany and drive it to Tbilissi now. They all take great interest in Baidi and I.
It is five o´clock in the morning. The bus still has not arrived. Maybe the driver lied to us. It is so cold, Baidi is coughing already. I feel like I will be sick. I decide we should leave. Using the marschutkas, we travel first from Sars to Hoppa, then return from Hoppa to Trabzon.