Crossing Borders - Part 5: Azerbaijan to Georgia


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Asia » Georgia
May 12th 2009
Published: May 19th 2009
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This is the first border that I did not have to cross on foot! Instead I was in the comfort of a train compartment (not a Chinese import this time, I think..), which I shared with a merry old Azeri. He offered me one of the many cans of beer he was carrying and made delightful conversation to me in Russian. The fact that I declined his beer and barely understood a word of what he said did not seem to matter to him too much. His daughter, fluent in English, gave up translating after a while and put him to bed.

In the morning, the train stopped, the Azeri customs officials swept through the train, collected everyone's passports and then handed them back again. A short stretch down the track the Georgians did the same. This is what international train travel in Europe was like once upon a time!

It makes me think that any die-hard eurosceptic should be encouraged to cross some borders in Central Asia, wait at a border post for a few hours, be messed around by immigration officials and have their baggage searched by bribe-expecting policemen. Then let them go for their booze cruise to Calais and claim that the EU is no more than a bureaucratic waste of time.. that's my two cents on the joys of Schengen!

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19th May 2009

I don't believe it
Julian! You are travelling half-way across the world, by public transport mostly, and your trousers are still neatly pressed! How do you do it? Why do you do it? I can't work out if I'm im-pressed at your dedication to the iron or de-pressed at my lack of dedication. x

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