What a way to start!

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May 2nd 2012
Published: June 21st 2017
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Geo: 51.5002, -0.126236

As I write this...I'm not even there! This trip has been long in the planning, My e-mail box for the trip includes notes from the TripAdvisor forum for Georgia as far back as February 2011! That was when I was still working out how to get round the Black Sea without resorting to a flight because the borders between Georgia and Russia are closed to 'foreigners'. But eventually I found out about Abkhazia, a break-away republic of Georgia on the Black Sea coast. Georgia doesn't recognise it as a separate country so you can travel across the 'border', though they may discourage you. Abkhazia itself is recognised by Russia (and uses the Rouble, and the Russian international dialling code) so once there one can cross into Russia. Happy Days! There is even a gentleman, the Professor of Caucasian Languages at SOAS, who is married to a lady from Abkhazia and he has been made the 'honorary consul' and dishes out visas. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to Abkhazia, but there are plenty of reports on the web from folk who have done what I plan to do.

So, a week before I arrive in Istanbul, what have I not organised yet - being the kind of person who likes it all sorted in advance:
I need a bus ticket from Istanbul to Ankara - there are no eastbound trains starting in Istanbul right now because of a new rail tunnel they are digging under the Bosphorous. The bus companies let you book in advance - but don't take foreign credit cards.
I have no train ticket from Ankara to Erzurum. They should have gone on sale a few days ago but aren't available yet.
I have no ticket for a bus from Erzurum to Hopa on the Turkish Black Sea coast - from where I cross the border to Batumi in Georgia.
I have no train ticket from Tbilisi (capital of Georgia) to Yerevan (capital of Armenia)
I don't know how I will get from Zugdidi, in Georgia, to Sukhumi in Abkhazia, nor a hotel in Sukhumi.
I don't know how I will get from Sukhumi to Sochi, in Russia - where the next Winter OIlympics will be held.
I don't have a ticket for the train from Rostov-on-Don (Russia) to Kiev (Ukraine) which is a bit bothering because I'm meeting Liz in Kiev!
And no ticket for the train from Odessa (Ukraine) to Chisinau (Moldova)
Other than that - it's all fine!

The BBC Weather forecasts show a lot of rain over Georgia/Armenia right now - but temperatures pushing 30 (centigrade) in Rostov-on-Don.

Now 3rd May and no further forward on Turkish trains or train from Rostov to Kiev.


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