Meanwhile, I arrived in Russia. To calm down all folks I left back home I travel with a Spot Gen 3 that tracks me every hour when on the road. I guess you can understand that I don’t want to be tracked by everybody in realtime, but I still want to share with you the exact details and highlights of my route in regular intervals . Off we go with my first two weeks and the route from Germany to Georgia.
Day 1-2: Austria
Saying goodbye is hard! From Munich I drove to Austria with my parents and spent a day with idyllic summer walks in my mothers hometown Osterwitz before it was seriously time to say goodbye. And then I was all on my own.
Day 3: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia
I made it to Bosnia the probably most unspectacular way: Highways and lots of kilometers. Found a equally unspectacular hotel in the town of Goražde. But hey, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been here. If that was not worth the 25 Euros I had to spend.
Day 4: Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo
Durmitor National Park in Montenegro was an absolute highlight and you can read about it in full length here. My second highlight was Buffalo Backpackers Hostel, where I spent my night in Pristina, Kosovo. The owners emptied their garage to find Cleo a reasonable place to sleep and cooked a fantastic dinner for all those who were present. I would have preferred to stay longer, but there were two more long days to follow.
Day 5-6: Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey
After an again unspectacular ride through Bulgaria and Greece I stranded in the city of Bandırma in Turkey because a thunderstorm was coming up. If you have a choice, just don’t stay there. The range of hotels is not very big, actually it took me a bit of driving and some suggestions that my friends sent me per text message to find one at the ugliest port I ever visited.
Half of the night jets were cruising over the hotels and flying maneuvers from the nearby military station. That fact neither improved the poor location, nor made it the dirty room cleaner.
Day 7-9 Eskişehir, Turkey
The Turks do usually not travel a lot throughout Ramadan, that’s probably why I made a great bargain at lovely Hotel Porsuk in the colorful city Eskişehir. I spent two nights there and visited the beautiful marble hamam of the hotel where you can treat yourself with a massage and peeling for only 25 TL.
Day 9-10 Cappadocia, Turkey
Read more about Cappadocia as one of my absolute highlights of Turkey here. In retrospect I would still advise anyone to visit that area if doing a journey through Turkey and probably do this in the time of Ramadan, so it’s not overcrowded.
Day 11 -12 Susheri/Trabzon, Turkey
From Cappadocia I drove to Susehri where Cleo was allowed to stay the night in the hotel lobby.
Next day we made it to Trabzon, catching a glimpse on Sumela Monastery that is unfortunately closed until September. The day before I booked a hotel in Trabzon, thinking I could stay at the black sea. Came out that only a small street and airport were between me and the water.
Day 12 Pass Ikizdere to Ispir /Ispir to Artvin, Turkey
What do you imagine when thinking about the vegetation of Turkey? Probably not lush green valleys or mountains with snow in June. Whoever wants to experience that should drive this pass that consist of a fantastic asphalt road on its second half close to Ispir. Another pass that should be awesome if you are into gravel and offroad is the one from Çaykara to Bayburt. I didn’t want to do this alone on street tires though.
Shortly after Ispir the landscape changed drastically. From 15 degrees up in the mountains the sun started to burn down with an average of 40 degrees. I drove along rugged cliffs and a river for hours without meeting anybody else. Somewhere I must have made a wrong turn and about 40 minutes it took me over a rough gravel road that was so small, that two cars (and probably even one) would have had serious trouble. Unfortunately that must have just been in between two of my tracking intervals so this hidden gem might remain one.
The town of Artvin is actually a bizarre place that is located along a single 5 km serpentine road. All up the way stands a 22 meter statue of Atatürk, the highest in Turkey. You can see it from far away when going towards the city.
Day 13 Artvin to Georgia
Google told me to go via Ardanuç, but when I ask a couple of construction workers, they sent me back to take the road to Şavşat. Again you can experience Turkey from a completely different angle. Direction Georgia you drive a curvy mountain road after the other and even the asphalt is in perfect condition. I would btw not only recommend this route to everybody who wants to escape the dreariness of the Black Sea – the border to Georgia was completely empty, it took me approximately 7 minutes in total to finish the procedure. And then I was off to beautiful Georgia.