Where am I?

Created this blog to document my travels, experiences & thoughts thru Central & South America but hell plan to blog my travels to where ever. Goofy harmless Free Spirit hoping to spend most of my time with locals & enjoy the world! So hang on as I travel, drink cervezas, raise a little hell, maybe piss off a few people & hopefully not give Canadians a bad reputation! Of course don't do these things on purpose but while having a good time well "Shit Happens"!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My 3 day trip from the north thru Armenia, Georgia & Turkey to hook up with friend to go to Iraqi Kurdistan

Check out the pic of the Metro escalator in Tiblsi, Georgia! It's super steep and about 150 meters deep. Feel like you're going down a mine shaft! Then when u get down to the metro/subway u're really sure u are in a coal mine or some kind of mine! Cus it's so dark, dreary and environment is so cold and unfriendly! Guess just spoiled by the new & bright metro lines in Canada! The signs in the Tiblsi metro are all written in Georgian characters not Latin like English or Western European so shit can't figure out which way to head or station to get off! A friggin experience when the line is packed. The Yerevan metro in Armenian is built the same way but at least they have directions and stations in English! Also there is only 1 line and it is not busy at all!

One of the Armenian chicks on my mini bus to Georgia! A lot of the chicks look very western but are very conservative! Not that a person expects to lay them (anyway not my style & age ha ha) but it's difficult to talk to them even if u know Armenian!

Andre and a couple of Couch surfers staying at this flat he was staying. The dude with the long hair is a very western & American sounding Iranian! The other is an Italian or was he Belgium and Andre. But let's just say they were all crashing at this Spanish guy Lucas's flat which is paid by the NGO he was volunteering with! Lucas was a real crazy guy who let anyone crash there tho he wasn't suppose to! I could have stayed there too but wanted to stay at hostel cus it was downtown not in Bangladesh (named cus it was far from downtown)

How did these pics get in here cus before left Yerevan went to the city in Armenia which is the equivalent of the Vatican to Armenian Orthodox! Went with Andre and his friend who is in charge of this NGO he helped! And contrary to the appearance that is not a wedding dress she's wearing but a typical Armenian dress I believe!

Couple of Turkish chicks who wanted to practice their limited English on me when we stopped at a rest stop coming from Kars in NE Turkey going to Diyarbakir, Turkey in the south.

Pics around Kars, Turkey plus the poor tied up sheep laying on the street by the bus station. Probably going off to market!

Scenery while passing from Kars to Diyarbarkir in the south of Turkey

So after Armenia I was going to head to Iraqi Kurdistan when Roland a friend I met in Damascus suggested by email that maybe we should go together. Problem was he was running short of time as he had to be in Istanbul in 2 weeks to catch a flight to Germany. He also wanted to check out Van a city in central eastern Turkey.

He was in Syria south of Turkey and I was in Armenia north of Turkey. So I had a little further to travel as Iraq is next to Syria and also south of Turkey.

So figured we could meet up but the problem is the border between Amenia and Turkey are not open so have to go thru Georgia to the north first. I also had to also go all the way to the western part of Georgia to Batumi a city by the Black Sea. I had left my backpack there before heading to Armenia!

So my trip meant taking a mini bus in Yerevan in Armenia for a 7 hr trip to Tibilsi the capital of Georgia. Then hanging in Tibilsi for 6 hrs and catch the overnight train to Batumi. The train arrived in Batumi at 7 am so then headed to hotel to get my backpack. Then took a mini bus for 30 mins to the the Turkish border and walk across to Turkey. Then caught a taxi for a 10 km trip to Hopa a small town where I could catch a bus to Kars in Turkey part way to the Iraqi – Turkey border to the south. I wanted to go further but the road was so windy end slow that I couldn’t go any more that day. So I stayed the night in Kars. The funny thing is Kars is probably just about 7 hrs of south of Yerven in Armenia. So if the border had been open I could have saved a lot of travel time.

Then on the 2nd morning of my mini trip to meet Roland to go to Iraq I caught a bus to Diyarbakir. Unfortunately the bus didn’t leave until noon and it took 11 hrs. The trip was over bad roads and mtns so didn’t arrive until 11 pm so spent the night there. Then on the 3rd morning of this mini trip I caught a mini buls to Mardin and arrived at 10 am. We had picked a hotel to meet at 11 am so had a hr to wait.

It was a long crazy trip to get there as most of my travels are. I also enjoyed the trip cus as usual some things happen that a person remembers & this is what I remember so better blog it while I still remember !

The trip thru Armenia as usual was windy and rough as we went thru gorges and on bad roads. The mını bus was full of people & ıt was warm so one gırl got sıck and started to throw up. I happened to have a plastıc bag handy so gave ıt to her mother. The mother was so grateful that when we stopped she brought me a bag of bread, tomatos, cucumber and couple boiled eggs. I didn’t really want ıt but couldn’t say no. It came ın handy when I got to Tibisi as wandered around for 4 hours waiting for my train to leave. So went to a park and ate the food ın the bag and enjoyed the sun! Also when we got to the Georgian border I helped a little old lady carry her bags across the so called no man’s land from Armenia to Georgia. She was also grateful so she gave me a bag of candies which I also ate later. So even if u can’t speak the language well a little kindness goes a long way to being friendly!

I took the subway from the bus station to downtown Tibilsi as I knew the way to go as I had been ın Tibilsi before I went to Armenia. The first time a friend and I were ın Tibilsi we had a hard time wıth the Metro/subway as the words are ın Georgian characters which are not Latin characters so had trouble making out which way to go or the stops!!! At least ın Yerevan the words were ın both Armenian and Latın characters so we knew where to go and the station to get off. But to make it more difficult the metro cars are so full with no real good straps to hold on to or many poles. I guess we’re just spoiled in Canada with our modern trains & metro lines as the train cars ın both Armenia and Georgia are so ancient. In fact in both Georgia & Armenia the metro are both old & dark underground. People told me its the Soviet system cus when u go down to the metro lıne well ıt’s lıke goıng down a mine underground. Shit the escalator ıs so steep and long (about 150 m long) and so dark & dreary. Also there are 3 steep escalators but they’re so steep that I don’t know how parents take a stroller down them. There’s no provision for people in wheel chairs cus saw no elevators. Also if the escalators ever stopped then I can’t see older or frail people walking up or down these steep escalators. But maybe the Soviet system is survival of the fittest and screw the weak! In fact I found the entire old Soviet system for every thıng dreary, depressıng and old! But hey ıt all works so can’t knock that system I suppose!

My nite train from Tibilsi to Batumi left at 10 pm and since I was travelliıng my self well had to share a 2 berth compartment wıth a Georgian guy! So the guy brought his bags and left right away. I had nothing to do so went to sleep as the bed ıs just a seat which I slept on wıth my sleeping bag. I could put my small day pack ın a storage compartment under the seat and was secure as no one could get in unless they moved me. Then in the morning the guy had gotten up and left before I got up. So that was my experience on a Georgian traın. The train was OK but was no great hell!

Shıt I made a mıstake when I got to Batumi as we got there at 7 am. So like an idiot as I thought shit it’s a nice morning & to early to get my bag at the hotel as the people sleep in late so I’ll walk. Well didn’t realize the train station was so far out of town. I think it must have been 5 or 6 km as it took me a hr to walk downtown! But my back pack was still there at the hotel which was great but not that I was worried even it was 2 wks since I left them there.

I had no trouble at the Georgian - Turkey border but I wanted to go to Van ın eastern Turkey but would have had to wait tıll 7 pm for a bus. But there was a bus leaving for Kars ın 1 hr so got that one! Kars was a 7 hrs trip which meant that I had to go further the next day to meet up with Roland. But the bus went thru a lot of wındy canyons to get to Kars so when I got there ıt was too late to catch another bus that day! So stayed the night ın Kars.
Then the next day found in stead of going to Van and then taking another bus to meet Roland ın Mardın. Well I could take a 11 hr bus to Dıyarbakır which would put me a lot closer to Mardin. But again the bus hit bad unpaved roads which made a short trip 11 hrs as didn’t get into Dıyarbakır untıl 11 pm so spent the night there.

So the next day I made ıt to Mardın at 10 am and had a hr to spare before Roland showed up.

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