Trabzon to Batumi

Sunday, July 31, 2022 - 21:45

Today was our last day in Turkey until the return leg of the trip. We were supposed to spend two more days in the Black Sea region but we've changed our plans slightly due to the lack of dog friendly accommodation in the area. As a result we are heading into Georgia two days ahead of schedule, since almost all the hotels and apartments there allow pets. However, before we crossed the border, we had what was probably our personal highlight of Turkey so far: a trip to Uzungöl.

To get to Uzungöl from Trabzon we drove for about 20 minutes along the coast road before heading inland for about an hour on a road which was half dual carriageway, and half single carriageway being converted into dual. This was a winding road along a river which took us into the lush green mountains we had only seen from a distance up to this point. The thing that immediately struck us was just how similar it looked to driving through the Alps in Switzerland. Everything from the height of the mountains, to the greenery, to the way houses were dotted all up the mountainside along tiny mountain roads you wouldn't want to go anywhere near without a local to guide you. The only differences were that the houses looked much more second-world, and there were mosques with their minarets dotted around as well.

At the end of the main road we hit stone paving as we came into the resort town of Uzungöl, which continued the Alpine theme with all the buildings made in a log cabin style. It was very busy in town with cars crawling along and local police controlling the traffic at the junctions. We weren't too fussed though, since the slow traffic allowed us to take in the beautiful scenery around us. Imagine something like the Italian/Swiss lakes, but with a large mosque dominating the view. It was also clear that this part of Turkey is marketed to tourists from the Middle East, with a lot of women in full black coverings, cars from places like Kuwait and Iraq, and currency exchange shops advertising rates for Saudi, Qatari and Kuwaiti currencies. Can't blame them for coming here though, since it was a lovely 25 degrees with mostly sun and a few clouds dotted around; much better than the 50 degrees in the Gulf right now.

The main thing to do in Uzungöl is walk a lap around the lake, totalling about 2.5km and taking you past all the main viewpoints and the imposing mosque at one end. Along the entire route there are cafes, restaurants, and shops selling souvenirs and fake designer clothes. These fakes were seriously good though, and they had me questioning if they were seconds from the same factories rather than fakes. About a third of the way around the lake a large stray puppy locked on to Summer and wouldn't stop following us the rest of the way around. This drew a lot of unwanted attention from the locals and tourists; some tried to help us shoo the dog away, and others just pointed and laughed. We did eventually lose the puppy, and made it to a nice restaurant where they made a huge fuss over Lucy. This wasn't an "oh isn't she cute" like you might get in the UK, but a full Turkish welcome. One of the waiters gave her a windmill toy to keep which he helped her spin in the wind much to her delight, while another moved the high chair several times to other parts of the restaurant where local groups of women doted over Lucy while she giggled back.

After lunch we returned to the car and hit the road for the Turkey/Georgia border. It was a pleasant 3 hour drive, first back to the coast through the same valley we had come through, and then along the coast past some more towns and to the border post. As we got closer we started seeing mile after mile of lorries parked up on the sides of the road. These lorries were from all over Central Asia, including countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and even a convoy from Mongolia (Google reckons that's about a 100 hour drive). I later read about how the war in Ukraine has stopped the usual trucking routes across that part of Europe, so they are diverting along the Black Sea to get into Russia and beyond. According to one news article the queues were up to 75km long at one point in April, and it means Russians cannot get their usual fresh fruit supplies from Turkey in time before the produce perishes because it now takes 12 days instead of 5 to drive the route.

I had time to read about all this because we found ourselves in our own unfortunate (though not as unfortunate as for the lorry drivers) border situation this evening. Google Maps had been fairly accurate with border crossing times to date, so we trusted it when it said we'd be in Batumi by 6.30pm. In the end we arrived at 11.30pm after 5 hours waiting to get across. This was mostly due to extremely poor organisation on the Turkish side. When we arrived we joined what we thought was a short queue, but then some men came over and told us there is a much longer queue feeding the shorter queue further on. We were polite of course so backed up and joined the long queue down the road. These first two hours weren't that bad as we could see a beautiful sunset on the Black Sea (photo below). However, after two hours of moving forward achingly slowly, I took a walk forward and could see the lack of movement was because people were simply pushing in at the front in the way we had accidentally earlier, and most were not being polite and moving to the back like we had. There was a lot of shouting going on and groups of Turks and Georgians looking very aggravated and banging on car bonnets to no avail. We kept out of it, and eventually a group of Turkish officials came out and started organising the queue properly. Even with better organisation in the queue, the progress was incredibly slow, and when we got to the front we learnt it was because they only had two offices open to process all the passports of the people in the cars, and one of the offices didn't even have a passport stamp available so they kept sending everyone to the other office to get stamped. It was in this queue that we decided to feed Lucy as it was now 9pm, and overall Lucy and Summer both dealt with the situation in exemplary form, with no fuss whatsoever.

Once through the Turkish side with no questions at customs, we drove onward to the Georgian side where there was only one car in front of us. Here they did customs before passport control, and the officers asked us to open up the boot and were most interested in Lucy's cot mattress which I happily showed them. Passport control was easy, where they stamped the passports very quickly but spent quite a bit of time with the car's v5c entering details into the system. After that we were into Georgia, where the first thing we could see was a whole plaza of currency exchange shops and green card car insurance booths. I went up to one of them, but rather than official government booths like in Albania and Turkey, these were private companies making up their own prices and only taking cash. The prices weren't ridiculous (45 GEL for 1 month), but with no cash on me and with a very tired baby in the car, I decided to take the chance and drive the 20 minutes to the apartment without insurance, and buy the official government insurance online at

A very long day today in the end but we kept our cool and counted ourselves lucky we hadn't had any slow borders like this until today, and thought about how the lorry drivers must feel waiting for days on end in the same place!

Dog Notes: 

Today's border was the first time the customs officers have actually had a good look at Summer. When we got to the Georgian side of the border they asked us to open the boot, and while I was showing one officer the boot the other one opened the back door to find Summer looking up at him. He looked quite surprised and said something in Georgian to the other officer. The look on their faces suggested they thought they should check her papers but couldn't be bothered. The fact they didn't speak good English probably helped us a lot here, so they closed the door again and told us to move on to passport control.

On arrival at our apartment in Georgia we have already seen several stray dogs walking around the complex. Luckily we have a small private garden where Summer can play, but it is already looking like Georgia will be similar to Turkey when it comes to having a pet dog.

Electric Vehicle EV Notes: 

Only one stop to top up the battery today in Uzungöl while we walked around.
- ZES charger at İnan Kardeşler Hotel
We have now plugged the car in at the villa we are staying in for the next two days. It says it will take 27 hours to do 50% of the battery at 1.7KW so we have to be patient!

Miles Driven: 
Polo Villas


Honestly Jamesy, the blog is so interesting and it's worthy of a book or at least a serialisation in a magazine.

Further to Adrian, your style is very similar to the book Around the world in 80 days with you as Phileas Fogg. Book by Jules Verne who was almost as good with words as you.

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