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Batumi to Erzurum

all seasons in one day

From the train in Batumi it was another marshrutka ride to the border, back the way I had come 6 days before. I looked out for the supposedly well impressive Roman fortress at Gioni just 3Ks short of the border but as like on the way in it was dark and couldnt be seen. The crossing was easier this time, certainly quieter, and I was surprised to find the border shut, we had to wait around for an hour to be processed. This time I still got the same spotlight on the face treatment but at least I could see the officials face too, this was a particularly Georgian interpretation of detente. In waiting at the border I had blessed how mild it was only to suddenly be hit by a storm out of nowhere. I had tempted rate and it was chucking it down by the time I reached Hopa again, which struck me as being the norm. I only ever saw the border region dark and wet! Upon entering Turkey we had gained 2hrs which I thought would be useful in helping cover some distance that day but as it turned out it just meant that we had 3 hours to kill at Hopa Otogar waiting for the first departure to Erzurum. We met another young Japanese couple here so it was a little strange sitting it out with now 4 Japanese, but cool nonetheless. The couple were headed from whence we'd come so we swapped money and shared tea, they all had good English and I liked the Japs very much, very polite people.

The road from Hopa to Erzurum was fantastic. It had been another reason for going to Georgia that even the approach roads were experiences in their own right and I was not disappointed. In contrast to the road to Trabzon however this road did not so much go over the mountains but through them. For a hundred solid kilometres the road was hemmed in by steep mountainsides, normally more like a ravine than a valley, just wide enough for the river and road. The climb was almost imperceptible through the Kachkar Mountains, perhaps the highest range in Turkey reaching almost 4000 metres. It was like travelling along the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

It had seemed a little crazy going back to Erzurum, there were so many other Turkish cities I would have liked to have seen, but it was about as far as we could cover in daylight and I was happy to have the expectation of a familiar city after scraping by in Georgia. As it turned out by the time we reached Erzurum at 2000 metres it was getting hammered by a blizzard and the snow was lying. Much against my expectations Yoshi and I resolved to leave again that night in search of warmer climes. The coldest place in the country, Erzurum in winter was no place to hang around and the weather would blot out the scenery making daytime travel pointless anyway. Going back to Erzurum had also been a bonus however in that I finally managed to catch the local museum. The archaeological displays were predictable, mainly Urartian finds but there was also a whole section on the disputed Armenian Genocide. It was actually a very topical subject since France had recently insisted on Turkish recognition of it as a pre-requisite to EU membership. Turkey had always denied the allegations. What was displayed was a very predictable one-sided presentation of Armenian provocation and counteraction which in the short time I had to study it I did not buy. Unfortunately in spite of my original intentions I had not been able to hear the other side of the story in Armenia.

Yoshi was heading on to Diyarbakir and whilst I had originally intended going to Gaziantep fate transpired to make Diyarbakir the only night departure available. I realised that I would have to come back to this part of the world anyway someday, there were so many stones left unturned. So we headed off to Diyarbakir together at 9, not only would it save me a couple of days but it would put me on target to meet Anthony, an internet chum, on his days off.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Georgia

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