Day 4 – Buses & Borders

After waking up less than satisfied from last nights sleep, Emma and I started packing before heading down for breakfast. I think this might have been my shortest hotel visit ever. Arriving somewhere around 2 a.m., woke up at 7 a.m., and left the hotel at 8:45 a.m. The breakfast was simple, but it was nice to get a chance to sit down and have a meal somewhere that wasn’t a train cart as a change of pace.

After sticking out like a sore thumb on the streets of Kars, we found the bus station at last. They seemed suprised that we had gotten our tickets of the internet but non the less we got our luggage in the bus and waited patiently for the bus to leave. I can’t help to see a trend on our journey through Turkey, that time tables are mere recommendations. We departed 20 minutes after schedule and the first thing both Emma and I rejoiced about, was that the air condition on the bus worked, so far so good!

If someone would have told me yesterday, that the bus ride would be more beautiful than the train ride, I wouldn’t believe them. But we got to see such amazing views on the bus. From mountains, to plains, to hills covered with forest and much more. The pictures below really don’t do the views justice really.

After some delays we finally arrived in Hopa. The sky had opened up and the rain was pouring down as our bus driver hurried to get our bags out (all 40 of them) before rolling away while we were trying to understand what was happening or where we were. We regrouped and headed towards where the minibusses to the border town of Sarp arrived and departed from.

This is where misunderstanding number one occured, Emma say’s it’s my fault, but I would say it’s a team effort. I walked into a hotel and asked them where the minibusses to Sarp where heading from. Somehow they thought I wanted to book a room and we had a conversation through Google Translate (best travel companion hands down). Emma understood what was going on, but only after we used her Visa card to pay for the room. After a few laughs and directions (and of course our money back) we went to the real bus station and got onboard the bus.

Somewhere half way to the border city misunderstanding number two occured. We, along with 2 other backpackers had payed what we understood to be the correct price for our bus tickets. Somehow it seems that the driver didn’t understand that the 30 or so turkish lira were from us. He stops the van and in a heated flurry of frustration tries to explain to us that we haven’t paid, meanwhile we’re trying to explain that we already paid. All of this is happening through me using Google Translate together with a friend of the driver, while he’s shouting at us and 5 random people are sitting in the bus wondering that’s going on.

As you can see the whole smooth sailing that we’ve had during the start of our trip was starting to take a turn for the worse. I don’t think it helped that it was around 7 p.m. and the only thing we had to eat was the previously mentioned breakfast.

People on the bus while we’re arguing and trying to understand the bus driver.

We arrive to the border crossing and get over the Turkish side without any problems. When we get to the Georgian side of the passport control we have a run in with the officer who is inspecting our passports. If man-handling official documents was to be a sport, he would have won an honorary gold medal each year. He must have thought our passports were forgeries, because he held onto Emmas passport trying to find a fault in it for 5 minutes and the same with mine. Even taking my passport to another colleague to expose us. He tried to see if the passports would bend, if the papers had any structural weaknesses, he tried shouting my name real quick to see if I would react, and fortunately for us our passports passed every test.

Finally, we were through!

Getting into Georgia we went to Batumi and checked in to our hotel. Both of us exhausted, hungry and annoyed after a long day. We just went to grab something to eat before heading back to the hotel. I finally got to taste Khachapuri, a Georgian dish that is best described as a cheese omelette pizza something. Anyways that’ll be enough for today. Time to sleep in and prepare for the last stretch of the journey to Armenia. The night train from here to Yerevan.

If bread, Cheese and egg wasn’t enough, you get a nice chunk of butter as well.

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