crossing the border - part 2!
Posof Travel Blog› entry 467 of 658 › view all entries
People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip:
I was too tired to even try to explain to the immigration officials why my passport had no room for the Turkey entrance stickers, so i just handed it over and hoped for the best. After a fairly lengthy delay, the female officer came to ask me for payment, which the form said could be 20 Dollars, 15 Euros or 10 Pounds. Knowing the exchange rate, i quickly took 10 Pounds from my wallet, which would save me at least $5, bonus! The lady didn't seem too impressed and kept saying “Dollar, Euro” to which i kept shaking my head with the saddest looking face i could muster, whilst keeping my wallet that was full of Dollars and Euro’s tucked safely away in my pocket.
I watched through the window as the rest of the process took place, with the woman depositing my money, peeling off the relevant stamps and then opening my passport.
After using some words from a Turkish phrasebook, the guards told me that there was a bus at 13.00 (the clock had gone back 2 hours from Georgia), and it was now 12.30. I was really shocked to hear of a bus, but when they told me a taxi to the nearest town of Posof, located just 14kms away, was a whopping 30YTL ($20), i decided it was worth the risk of waiting around to see what happened.
I sat in the cold for the next two and a half hours and not only was there no bus, but not a single car, van or lorry passed in my direction. This wasn't good. At one point one of the guards came out to give me some tea, which i gratefully accepted, as the temperatures began to plummet with the setting sun. I took a little walk around the area to see what the lay of the land was, but there were no villages in sight and more worryingly not a single taxi to take, even if i wanted to.
I was starting to play it out in my mind, how i could try asking the border guards to let me sleep in their office, when eventually a small minivan crossed the border from Georgia and flashed its lights at me. Oh the joy. With a huge sigh of relief i grabbed by bags and raced across to vehicle, bundling my gear in with no thought of a price, i just wanted to get the hell out of there. I clambered into the back seat with two other Turkish guys and off we went.
The road to Posof was very scenic, and it was all the sweeter to be seeing it from the warmth of the van. 20 minutes later we arrived into Posof and i was dropped at a hotel on the main street. The driver never asked for anything, so i gave him a handshake and tried to express myself with countless thank you’s, which were straight from the heart.
The hotel i was shown into wasn't particularly nice, but the owner dropped the price from 12.5YTL ($8) to 10YTL ($6.40) which made it very good value, so i took it. Having dropped my bags off i went and got some money from the bank and then to find an internet cafe to catch up on all the goings on of the last two days . Having emailed people to let them know that i was safe, i went and ate a massive meal in a restaurant located over the road from the hotel and then returned to settle in for the night.
Wanting to be polite, i went straight to the owners door and entered so as i could pay him for the room. He started to play dumb and took 12.5YTL instead of the 10YTL that we had agreed on. After a few minutes of just standing there and waiting for him to give me the rest, he handed the remaining change to me.
No more than 5 minutes after i had settled down, i got a knock at the door and wondered what the owner wanted now. I was a little surprised to find a scruffy looking old man stood before me, who seemed intent on entering the room. I figured he was lost, so pointed down the corridor, trying to gesture that he had got the room mixed up. He began pointing at one of the two beds in my room, clearly meaning that he was going to be sharing with me. Whilst 10YTL was a good deal for a private room, to have to share it with someone who looked as though he was homeless, was not acceptable.
Back in the office i gestured that there was no way i was having anyone else in my room, so the owner threw my 10YTL back and signaled for me to leave, which i happily did.
Luckily enough there was another Hotel just metres down the street, but when i entered i could see that it wasn't finished. Nevertheless i walked up the stairs and finally found the owner on the top floor. He showed me a lovely triple room and told me it was 20YTL, but after a few minutes of bargaining he came down to 15YTL. Now i know this was the same price as where i had just come from, but it was nothing to do with the money, it was about the principle of not wanting to stay next door.
I was told to wait 10 minutes as they were putting the final touches to my room, so i sat and waited in reception, for what turned into 40 minutes. I was looking forward to going to my room, spreading out and watching TV in peace. It therefore more than baffled me to be shown into a box of a room with just enough room for a bed and my bag. Under other circumstances i would probably have walked out of here too, but it was nearly 21.00, freezing cold and I'd had enough for one day.
The following morning i checked out at 07.45 and went to catch the 08.00 dolmush (minivan) to Kars. For some reason this van never materialised, but thankfully there was another service at 08.30, which i secured a seat on. The journey was scenic, as we traversed mountain passes, where fresh layers of snow hinted at the weather to come. It took just over two hours to reach Kars and this cost 17YTL ($11), which seemed incredibly expensive, but then again i guess this reflects the incredibly high petrol prices, which equate to about $1.80 a litre.