Our May 15 day tour was dedicated to a trip to Georgia by car.
On May 11, we had to be in Georgia near Tbilisi for a wedding. At first, we planned to fly by plane, because Vasya has some prejudices about driving a car in Turkey. But then somehow his opinion changed. Comparing the possibility of flying and traveling by car, we eventually chose the latter.
Planning a trip in advance, as usual, did not work out. But still, the plan was outlined.
So our itinerary was:
April 30 Montenegro — Greece, we spend the night so as to drive as much as possible, locality: Grevena, before reaching Thessaloniki.
- May 1 — May 3 Istanbul
- May 3 — May 4 Cappadocia
- May 4 — May 5 Sivas, as a transit point
- May 5 — May 6 Batumi
- May 6 — 7 May Borjomi
- May 8 — May 9 Tbilisi
- May 9 — May 12 we are at a wedding
- May 12 — May 13 We want to get to Turkey, we spend the night in the city of Trabzon
- May 13 — May 14 Another stop in Turkey in the city of Tekirdag, this is after Istanbul towards Greece
- May 14 — May 15 we spend the night in Albania, the city of Gjirokastra (we often stop here).
- May 15 — we return home to Montenegro
In total, we drove about 6,500 km.
We often go to Greece. But first you need to travel through Albania. We prefer to pass through this country during daylight hours, because at night somehow we always have surprises, and we really dislike it.
We travel through Podgorica, because the border crossing there is always faster and easier, there is less inspection and less queue. We tried to go several times across the border along the coast, but each time we regretted it. We passed through Albania calmly, crossed the border with Greece also calmly.
It was already dark for a long time, and the time was approaching the first hour of the night. By the way, I was specifically looking for a hotel with a 24-hour reception and, of course, parking. I couldn’t cope with sleep and passed out. I woke up from a sharp blow and a loud sound. Of course I didn’t understand anything, we continue to drive, but Vasya slows down.
It turned out that we shot down some kind of coyote. It was on the highway, the speed was high. Vasya said that he didn’t even have time to slow down, because the beast did not jump in front of the car, but right into it. Probably it saved us, because it crashed into the side of the bumper, the headlight and windscreen were ok. The bumper, protection and fog were damaged. It is clear that we were not happy about such an adventure at the beginning of the trip, when we still have to go 2,500 km, and then back. But we did not lose heart.
The road in Greece is very beautiful. First the mountains, then the sea and endless fields of poppies and some other flowers. The border with Turkey is very harsh. The documents were checked 4 times. There are metal spikes in front of the passage, armed soldiers between the borders.
Before the trip, we read about toll roads in Turkey. That they abandoned pay tolls and introduced an electronic toll system (HGS, and there is some other). To use them, you need to buy a sticker with a chip and register the car. It turned out to be more difficult than buying a Vignette. Not all gas stations sell these things.
When entering a toll road, you need to slow down, the system reads your car number, the traffic light comes on. If the car is registered and there is money on the balance, a green signal lights up. But in case something is wrong, then red plus a vile sound signal. Having received a red light and beeping, we drove further to Istanbul.
We entered Istanbul at the golden hour. The domes and minarets of Hagia Sophia sparkled and shimmered with gold.
I was looking for a hotel, as always, with parking, and at the same time in the center, so that we didn’t have to go far for a walk. But even here we were not lucky (on May 1, there was some kind of demonstration not far from the hotel, and the roads to our hotel were blocked from all sides. We circled around five times, but without avail. As a result, we had to park the car in another paid parking and to carry all things in our hands. While all this was happening, the sun had already set, and we went wildly hungry in search of provision. We ate not Turkish national cuisine, as we were going, but very good.
The next day, we had a plan to walk around the center and go to Hagia Sophia. But the weather decided to change our plans and charged with rain for the whole day. Because of the rain, we went to shopping center, we had to buy something. Due to traffic jams, it all took much longer, as a result, we were freed quite in the evening. We walked a bit in the center, met friends, had dinner with a view of the Mosque. We didn’t like the food. Here, Vasya’s rule worked: a restaurant with an awesome view does not pay much attention to the cuisine, so there is nothing to expect culinary masterpieces.'
While we were driving around Turkey, we read the history of this country. We decided that it was necessary to go to Istanbul again, but probably already by plane.
The next destination was Cappadocia. Well, who doesn’t know this place yet? It seems to me that it is already so publicized that Phuket boats are resting. I wanted to go to Cappadocia for a very long time. Perhaps it was because of the opportunity to drop by (this added + 4 hours of travel) that I enthusiastically embraced the idea of driving so far by car. Well, I jumped a little with joy that I would finally visit Cappadocia. But I went there not for balloons, but for these crazy landscapes.
🛌 The choice of hotels in Cappadocia is very large. At the same time, it is not necessary to settle in Göreme itself, you can also live in Uchisar or other neighboring towns.
However, it is in Göreme that there are those very cool hotels in the rocks with open roof terraces with cozy carpets and pillows, from where it is so cool to look at the valley and those very hot air balloons. We stopped at @ambercavesuites.
The room is a real cave in the rock with stone walls. Especially in the evening, very interesting sensations in the semi-darkness with backlight. At the same time, everything you need for comfort is available, both in the room and in the hotel. And if you add a generous breakfast and friendly staff, then you don’t want to leave this beauty at all. By the way, very close to this hotel is a chic lookout from which you can see Goreme, Uchisar and the valley with hot air balloons. We didn’t see the balloons, the balloons fly only at dawn, and we were asleep of course.
The next day we had breakfast and went to see the reserve. There are many places, without a car or excursion in any way.
We saw Goreme, Uchisar, Love Valley, Red Valley. I really wanted to ride horses, but time was limited.
Of course, the place has been insanely promoted by bloggers, which is why tourism is flourishing here in all its glory, as well as crowds of Chinese, huge groups of Chinese everywhere.
Hermits came to this area, but then for some reason they forgot why they came there and their community became simply huge. They dug their dwellings in this soft rock, built churches and monasteries. There was even a law for a while that forbade digging holes, because they dug up the whole area. There are several underground cities, one of which has now been excavated up to the 7th floor down. The drawings in churches are about 1,000 years old, not much has survived. And the place itself, in my opinion, like Venice, may soon disappear from the face of the earth. The wind and rain do their job, here and there, you see pieces of the walls that have moved down and cracks. It all falls apart, alas.
Landscapes are cosmic, even Martian. But the eye blurs, and after a full day of contemplating the various valleys, they become too similar to each other.
Before sunset, we sped off further to conquer the expanses of Turkey to the city of Sivas, where we simply spent the night before the Georgian border.
What to see in Cappadocia?
The activity of three volcanoes has pelted this huge area with lava and ash. For years, wind and water have painted this cosmic unreal landscape. Then the hermit monks came — the Greeks, began to dig “burrows” and live in them. Monasteries were formed, now there are more than 400 Orthodox churches, 5 cities (2 are available for visiting).
🌿Göreme Open Air Museum (Entrance 45 Turkish Lira). There are several churches in which rock frescoes, about 1000 years old, have been preserved.
🌿Valleys: red valley, love valley, dervent valley;
🌿Monasteries and individual churches. Entrance around 5 rounds. lire Some give a flashlight, you can climb the gorges between the rooms.
🌿Uchisar is the largest rock-city. Entrance 9 tour. lire We have been to these places, but there are many others. The territory is large enough.
We got to Sivas. The road is not very good, mostly among the mountains, serpentine along the gorge, but now any road seems better than in Georgia. It turned out that the Silk Road passed here, and the city itself is very ancient, like many others in this area. It is inconceivable how they could make their way through this area with trade caravans.
In Turkey, there are a lot of cameras on the roads, a lot of posts with military men with machine guns. There are many more installations in the form of police cars, even with flashing lights, but this is a fake) On the autobahn, no one really cares about the speed limit, so we calmly drove under 160-200. They just slow down in front of the cameras.
The 4-star hotel is not bad, but they refused to feed us, there was some kind of children’s party in the restaurant. We went to a liquor store (we are in Turkey, but it turned out that there is such a thing), although the owner is a pretty German. With grief in half, we found out where you can eat. And it was the most delicious meal in Turkey for $12). The restaurant looked strange, a huge dining room and an open kitchen. Menu in the form of a small leaflet. We took a kebab, asked for a salad, but we were told that everything would be fine. As a result, they forced the whole table with different saucers with snacks: sauces, cucumbers, some other vegetables) And the kebab itself was just fire. The guys were very surprised that we were from Russia in such a place).
The border with Georgia turned out to be the first border that I had to go on foot. There is only a driver in the car. Usually you don’t get out of the car at all, but there are rules. The pedestrian walks quite a long way along the ground crossing. Both me and Vasya had their own adventures. We were without communication and I was generally afraid of getting lost
I wanted to stamp for a tax refund (Tax free), but it turned out to be just an impossible task. They asked me to wait, I sat and sat, and spitting thanked me and went on, hoping that everything would be easier on the Turkey-Greece border.
At passport control, Gruzin studied for a long time how I arrived and where I came from. He didn’t seem to know about Montenegro. At the same time, for some reason, he looked at my Schengen for a long time under some kind of special magnifying glass and rubbed it with his finger. Why Schengen is not clear to him.
Vasya also had a misunderstanding with the customs officers, because in their picture of the world, a Russian entering through the Turkish border in a car that was registered to a Montenegrin did not add up to the real one. Everything was very, very long. The counters are uncomfortable, in order for Vasya to look into the customs officer, he had to stand on some kind of pipe and reach on his toes through the window. The customs officer was stupid for a long time, looking at the insurance and trying to find a power of attorney in this piece of paper. With grief, we passed the control in half, though we found out that we needed an expensive insurance, we had to issue it.
Hooray and here we are in Georgia, we are going to Batumi. A nice city that leaves an ambiguous impression due to its development: old shabby Soviet-era panels with mirror high-rise buildings sparkling at night like a Christmas tree). We had one night, rented an apartment. It was difficult to settle in, there was some kind of confusion. But after that, Georgian food and wine made good people out of us. The next day we tasted real Georgian Adjarian khachapuri. But, for me it turned out to be too fat and satisfying, I could not master even half. We walked along the embankment. Still, the Black Sea is not the Adriatic. We looked at the old part of the city. You can visit for one day.
What else I would like to note: a large and long embankment is an expanse for walking with children, and even for adults; interesting and very beautiful old part of the city;
But from what to see, the following list turned out:
🎡 Ferris wheel
🚡 cable car argo
🔸Skybar in one of the hotels Seraton or Reddison
🔸Park of 6th May
🔸Square of Europe
🔸Primorsky Boulevard, statues of Nino and Ali
@ihome.ge advised several restaurants in Batumi, maybe you will come in handy:
🔹Khinkali in Munich or Tavaduri
🔹Acharuli Sakhli (Adjarian house)
🔹More trendy places: Terrasa Askaneli, Bern, PortOdessa, Heart of Batumi
Then there was a stop in Borjomi. This was my first experience of working with a hotel as a barter blogger. At first I was looking for a hotel in Kazbegi for this, but it didn’t happen, and, as I later realized, for the better, because it’s not a fact that we would normally get there by our car.
In Borjomi it was somehow nice in the Soviet way. We continued to overeat Georgian food. At some point, I was already tired of taking pictures of everything, so the pool of photos became smaller and smaller. I just wanted to rest.
🔸Why go here?
🌸You can drop in for a short walk for a couple of hours: see the Romanov Palace, take a walk in the central park, swim in sulfur baths, ride the cable car, of course, try Borjomi from the source. And also take away a jar of cone jam.
🌿Or for recovery. For the second century people come here for water procedures.
💦Borjomi water contains many salts and minerals that are beneficial for the body. Despite the difference in smell and taste between the water from the source and from the bottle, the composition of the water is the same there and there and has not changed since 1830. In the bottle, it is perhaps more carbonated, but it smells stronger from the source. They not only drink water, but also take baths in it. In the very center of Borjomi, in front of the park, there is a @crowneplazaborjomii hotel with a huge SPA. Unlimited access to a large pool and steam rooms, color therapy rooms with water mattresses (this is very cool) for relaxation you will get for free by booking any of the rooms. This was a pleasant surprise for us.
The first thing we noticed was that the hotel is located on the river bank right in front of the entrance to the central park. I liked the interior and the materials from which everything is made — ♥️ I love the combination of brown leather, wood and glass. The room was huge and very bright with a nice view of the river. But Vasya liked the wine bar more🍷, where we had our first tasting of Georgian wines in the evening (oh, how many more there were)).
💧And by the way, the source with live Borjomi is right on the territory of the hotel: — there is no need to go anywhere and stand in line.
Offtopic about🍷Georgian wines
🍇The main part of the vineyards is located in the Kakheti region. Georgians have their own wine production technology with interesting nuances. Since ancient times, grapes have been crushed with their feet, and now, adhering to the old technology, they also do this, but, of course, not all wine. Everything is left to ferment together with bones and twigs, which gives interesting, more tart notes to the drink. Fermentation takes place in special clay vessels called kvevri. They are buried in the ground, thus obtaining a stable temperature of 14-16 degrees. Aging takes 3-4 months, with occasional stirring, then the cake is separated and poured into another Qvevri or oak barrels for further aging.
Particularly interesting is the technology for creating semi-sweet wine, which they won’t tell you about at wineries in Europe, because such wine is not made there. For example, the famous Kindzmarauli and Khvanchkara are representatives of semi-sweet wine. And no, in an ideal world, sugar should not be added there. Grapes in special areas ripen longer, picking up more sugar, they are harvested in late autumn. Without allowing fermentation (until the bacteria have eaten all the sugar), fermentation is stopped by lowering the temperature to just below 0 degrees. Next, a complex process of filtering yeast and unfermented products must take place. This drink is extremely unstable. Needless to say, it is almost impossible to stabilize such wine at home. Now in technologies and preservatives, and ultraviolet irradiation and infrared. Such wines cannot be cheap, otherwise sugar is simply added to them.
Tbilisi. Well, there are no words, just delight. I really want to come back and take a walk along all these streets and enjoy the summer. I hope that next year it will be possible to do this). (2019)
And in general, Georgia is a delight. I re-read it and really wanted to visit here again. But already by plane) The roads are excellent, but you need to take much more time for such a trip. We returned in 4 days, this is almost 1,000 km of hauls every day. On the third day, it became a bit stressful, especially since the weekend was over, workdays had begun, and it was possible to work in a car, but still not very convenient.