Published: August 18th 2012August 13th 2012
From Kayseri in Cappadocia, we found a direct bus line to Kars. This was our worst bus experience in Turkey (bad service, loud telly late at night, driver smoking...), but this saved us a lot of time. Train travel would have been cheaper and comfier, but it would have meant losing a day, and opting for another bus company would have meant losing time with a transfer in Erzurum. If you have the time, do yourself a favour and travel by train!
Tourists go to Kars to go to Ani, the old Armenian capital. However, Kars also has an impressive Seljuk citadel and an archeological museum. We were happy to spend a second day in Kars to visit these two sights.
Kars at first struck us as rather plain (and ugly...), but it does have its charms. Near the central sections of the city there is a lot of Russian architecture that reminded us of old Europe. The people are as friendly as ever in Turkey (little children would say hello to us, or even try to chat us up if they had some English, people would help if we seemed lost, or even help us navigate restaurant menus).
They are also obviously quite proud: the men wear nicely polished shoes, jackets, shirts and sweaters... we were out-dressed. There are some nice cafés near the university, we've had good experiences with baklavas (honey is something of a local speciality), food is certainly cheap. Language barrier was more a problem in Kars than anywhere else in Turkey, but we never had too much problem getting what we needed.
As soon as one exits the central section of Kars, the town takes on the look of a village, with sheep, roosters and cows a plenty. The houses are small, with walls made of the local rocks, and the roofs are made of aluminium sheets.
The archeological museum is located on the very outskirt of town, quite a long walk away from the central section. Going there by foot also means walking through some impoverished districts - do so by day.
We got to see the countryside, further away from Kars, when arriving to Kars, on the way to Ani, and when leaving Kars to go to Hopa, on the Black Sea. The land is certainly beautiful.
There are more photos below