Day 30-34, Here and There in Abkhazia II – Berlin

Day 30 & 31, August 6th/7th, Thur/Fri

Sukhumi-KutaisiOn Thursday L. drove with me to a place that was a holiday resort for KGB employees in the past – holidays for spies. Nowadays it’s a ghost town so I was very excited.
When we came back we drove through a part of Sukhumi where damages of the war were still clearly visible and I couldn’t believe that people live tehre.
The next day we went to a small reserve and passed a cage with a bear that was super small (maybe 4m² only) and the bear look really sad. In addition I bought a bottle of nice mulberry chacha for family and friends.
Since L. wanted to get on the Ministry building we went there in the late afternoon again.
After dinner I enjoy a nice bath in Black Sea for the last time on this journey.

Day 32-34, August 8th-10th, Sat-Mon, Abkhasia-Kutaisi-Kiev-Warsaw-Berlin

Because I flew on August 9th from Kutaisi via Kiev to Warsaw and then hitchhiked to Berlin, I said good-bye to L. and hit the road back to Georgia. At the border my visa was stamped on its backside and the police officer in Georgia just registered me again – no hassle at all. Then slowly slowly I went to cozy Kutaisi airport. My flight was heading to Warsaw but I had an 8 hour layover in Kiev so of course I went into town.
From Warsaw hitchhiking went pretty bad. I arrived at 3.30pm at the airport and at home at 6am next day – but at least with fresh rolls.

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Day 23-24, Mestia – Abkhazia, Lake Ritsa

Day 23, July 30th, Thu, Mestia-Abkhazia

Mestia-AbkhaziaThis day I was going to the second breakaway Caucasus Republicx after Nagorno-Karabakh: Abkhazia. Abkhazia is a bit more famous than Artsakh, but only because of war. And its history is quite similar: After the downfall of Soviet Union Abkhazian people and Ossetian people wanted their independence from Georgia, who didn’t want to accept. So from 1992 to 1993 there was a war and most Georgians were expulsed from Abkhazia and in 1994 it declared its independence. In August 2008 war between South Ossetia and Georgia broke out again, Abkhazia played a strategic role and was recognized by Russia after the war. That led to an increasing tourism industry and the currency became Ruble.
I was told that Georgian citizens are not allowed to enter Abkhazia. Though people who I met were angry or sad and often envious that I could go. Because the mountains are near Black Sea and therefore it’s really a nice destination for people who like to stay in hotels or travellers like me.

First I had to go to Zugdidi, where some Germans that I met on the camping ground were going. From there I walked more or less to the border.
You have to show your passport at a Georgian checkpoint although Akhazia is officially still part of Georgia. To enter Abkhazia you need to have a visa that you can apply for online at the MFA and you’ll receive an entrance permit. It took 9 days until I received it.
After the checking of your passport you have to go on foot (or you can take a horse-drawn carriage, but it’s slower) through a demilitarized zone and over a brige over Inguri to Abkhazia. There your passport and the entrance permit is checked and you’re in.
But hitchhiking wasn’t easy although on hitchwiki was written that it was super easy. In fact I made the worst experience. On the one hand I always had to wait a long time and if cars stopped they wanted money and were rude, when it was mentioned that hitchhiking is not about money.
Especially the south of Abkhazia is not sparsely populated and buildings are in a kind of bad state; you can see many destroyed houses at the roadside. I pitched my tent at a river where a drunk ex-police officer who was drunk drove me to. He lurched all the time on the opposite lane but traffic policemen just greeted him friendly when he passed…

Day 24, July 31st, Fri, Lake Ritsa

That day I went to Lake Ritsa that is not only popular for its nice location but also for Stalin’s dacha (Russian summer house).
But before I had to go to Sukhumi, the capital of the Republic of Abkhazia. There I had to change my entrance permission to the visa. Initially I applied for a one month visa, but I could get a 10-day visa, too which was cheaper. This visa is not stuck into the passport.
From Sukhumi a crazy driver from Dagestan (Russian region, Muslim characterized); his driving style was insane like of most Akhazians. He drove fast, at least 100km/h no matter if inside town or not. Then in front of us, a car was overtaken. But the overtaker drove to slow for my driver so he overtook the car that was overtaking the other car. In the end three car were driving next to each other on this two lane road and of course on the opposite lane cars were approaching as well – it was crazy.
On the way to lake Ritsa I then had my worst hitchhiking experience when a typical fat-muscular driver wanted a blow-job in return for a ride. Fortunately some time later a nice Russian family from 4200km far Surgut near Khanty-Mansiysk took me with them. We visited the summer residence of Stalin together and in the evening we went to Pitsunda for dinner and pitching our tents at the beach.

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Day 1-2, Tehran – Armenia

Day 1, July 8th, Wed, Tehran – Julfa (Iranian-Azerbaijan border, Nakhchivan)

Tehran-Julfa-TsavInitially I wanted to start my journey some days earlier. But since July 7th is a national holiday in Iran, no trains were running.
However I was happy being able to finally start. At 5.20pm the trains left and I shared the 6-berth compartment with only one other passenger. His name was Jafar and unfortunately he was too proud of staying with a German guy and acted like a king.

Day 2, July 9th, Thu, Julfa – Tsav (Armenia)

After having arrived in Julfa, I went on foot to the edge of the town. While walking I was stopped by police. But from other encounters I learned that it’s best to pretend not to speak Farsi, but only English. But these two weren’t capable of speaking English, so it was just “Hello” then silence and then “Good-bye”.
At first I hesitated to hitchhike. Maybe because I knew what kind of question would wait: about the super open European life-style and how easy it apparently is for every man to seduce women…
Under the burning sun I was walking for a bit, but I couldn’t continue like that the 60km to the border and after some minutes of trying, I got a lift to Nordooz, the border between Armenia and Iran.
There I met one of the notorious people that go by bike from Europe to China. We chatted for an hour or so, but I really wanted to leave Iran.
This border is controlled by Russian soldiers on the Armenian side. And I’ve never seen anyone checking my passport so long – not even in Russia. During its examination I talked with a young soldier from near Vladivostok.
From the border town of Agarak there are two roads northbound to Kapan and the main one was passing Kajaran. Obviously I didn’t chose that one. Therefore I had to walk most of the distance to the next village which was called Shvanidzor.
Hence I was given the possibility to check out the border region: There were many abandoned buildings and industrial sites from the Soviet times.
I wanted to spent the night in Shvanidzor, since for a long time there were no cars going further. But right after I refilled my water, I caught a drive. The road curled through the mountains and the air was so refreshingly fresh; what a great pleasure after three months of smog in Tehran.
Having arrived in Tsav I was forced to stay the night at Miro and his family and to eat dinner with them. And in addition the mother even made a footbath for me, which was really nice.

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