Travel Diaries: Crossing Georgia and Turkey border at Sarp Town

Connecting the Dots @ctdotsMay 2019 · 7 min read · Artvin


Sounds like a good idea? No it is not.

How it all strated

My phone died during the night, therefore, I woke up just mere 2 hours late, which a bit sad because I wanted to explore surroundings as much as possible, and, obviously, for that I require time.

Though on the other hand, in a grander scale of things, I understand it is not a tragedy. The most important part of this part of the journey is to get some rest and slowly transition my mindset back to living and working back home in Lithuania.

In this hotel during the morning, I finally found a refuge from sweating because the hotel itself provides a shadow. The reason it is such an oasis to me Is that I almost never stop sweating, even during the night.

Gonio and Kvariati towns near the Black Sea, Georgia

Strangely the Black Sea, which seemed to be dark yesterday, today it has a beautiful marine tone color. I think it is the first time for both of us near the Black Sea, I could have seen it in Istanbul two years before, but still haven't got a chance to take a swim in it.

Sarpi town

Since we woke up late, our plans of early morning walks or runs had to be skipped. The good thing is that everything is in place. For the first attraction, we decided to go to a small town on a border between Sakartvelo and Turkey. We heard rumors that you can pass freely to the Turkey territory, so we really wanted to get in and a mystical town divided by a border. It was quite easy to catch a bus and the distance was mere 4 km so we were there in no time.

Sarpi Town beach in Georgia near the Black Sea

Sarpi town on Georgia and Turkey border near the Black Sea

Crossing Georgia and Turkey border at Sarp Town

Turkey-Georgia border patrol in the Black Sea by Sarpi Town

After exiting the bus, we saw that the village is actually really, just a few houses separated by a border pass control in a middle. The number of people going towards the pass control got us curious, so we decided to go that way as well. Maybe on the Turkey side, a paradise resort awaits for us?

Queue to Turkey from Sarp Town, Georgia

We hit quite a big queue, but it only increased our curiosity, we asked a Russian couple what is on the other side, but they seemed to as opportunistic as we were.

We crossed the Georgian border without a problem and Turkish one even faster, but then we came to the bag control. This got me a bit nervous, I had nothing in my bag, but I had a small knife in the pocket. I know I can carry it around in EU, but I had no fcking idea about these two countries. Luckily I passed it without a problem as everyone seemed to be asleep. Finally, we can check out the Turkish side of Sarpi town, which is called Sarp.

Sarp town

When I exited the pass control on the Turkish side the first thing I’ve noticed was a huge crowd of people on my left. Is that really a queue? Am I going to need to wait in this chaotic line? Nevertheless, I hoped that we’ll be able to spend enough time here to dodge the current queue.

Sarp Town Tukey Georgia border

We walked through the crowd to a small mosque which seemed to be nothing special, but I haven’t seen one in a while, so I was still excited.

Sarp town on Turkey and georgia border near the Black Sea

Cliffs in Sarp Town, Turkey

After the mosque, we walked through several street food stands and a bus station. I saw two big stones in front and after that, I expected to something, but instead, I saw an empty beach, well, not empty, but full of trash. Only one family was walking through it was in big contrast to the Sakartvelo side, where you can find plenty of sunbeds and people, which in the end, looked like a paradise compared to this:

Sarp Town in Turkey trash on the Black Sea beach

Trash on Sarp Town beach, Turkey

Trash in Sarp Town, Turkey

Boat on the Black Sea coast in Sarp Town, Turkey

Cliffs in Sarp Town, Turkey

Only now I noticed that trash are everywhere here. My friend told me that she heard that Turkey is not the cleanest state. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like this, but I rarely travel from Europe.

Turkey by the Dead Sea, Sarp Town

We couldn’t find anything interesting here, except the rocks and mountains which you can see from Sarpi side anyway. We decided to turn back, we were really hungry at that time and to our surprise, we couldn’t even find any place to eat anything here.

Queues on Turkey-Georgia border in Sarp Town

The queue, of course, was still there as it took us max 30 minutes to see everything we could see there without taking a bus to the glorious market. It was hard to find anything similar to the end of a queue, but we tried and waited patiently. The sun was torching and everyone seemed to be super-annoyed by the the current circumstances. Not to mention the tourists who need to catch their flight, which is even more absurd than our situation.

Queue at the border from Turkey to Georgia in Sarp Town

The flow of people between the countries seemed mysterious, but soon we learned that people cross the border to Turkey simply to shop for a better price. That did not surprise me because a similar thing is happening in Lithuania, where some people go to Poland, or even Belarus to shop./p>

Crowd at the border to Georgian in Sarp Town, Turkey

At the beginning, the queue moved super slow because some good citizens tried to enter the crowd from sides to dodge some waiting time. There was even fighting between someone, I couldn’t see, because they were too far, but just want to express how everyone was pissed. At the moments I was pissed a bit too, it is annoying when the queue starts moving and you are being pushed by a mass while in front of you is a bag full stuff so you have to hold everyone behind you to avoid falling on the ground.

We were nervous if we are going to be let back in to Sakartvelo. Seeing all that stuff I was afraid of heavier item check as well. Luckily after a lot of waiting and a lot of people trying to ‘outsmart’ everyone by cheating the queue, we finally got out and without any other problems.

Turkey and Georgia border Black Sea

Back to beautiful Georgia

The journey back to Kvariati was not as easy as it was the other direction. The first minibus got crowded like a can of sardines so we decided to wait for a bus. Maybe, there will be some place to breathe.

That was partially true, I could breathe, but I had to stand on half of my foot, but that was not the most annoying part of the trip. When we finally got to our stop, nobody was leaving, so we had to push through the people who were asking not to touch their bags which were everywhere. I had to literally jump out the bus because there was a small bicycle in front of an exit. The owner didn’t bother moving it, just shouting at me. Always helps.

After all the struggle for no positive adventures, we decided to go to the beach and just swim it out. The grass on this side of the fence didn't look as pale as it was before, and mysterious beaches of Turkey gained a very dull image. I know it is just a corner of the country, but I never liked to make an image of a country only from its fasade. To be fair here, the clean and modern Batumi is not the image of Georgia I was left with either.

Girld on rocks near the Black Sea in Kvariati Town, Georgia

Kvariati beach by the Black Sea near Batumi, Georgia

Finally, the hell was over.

What to do in Kvariati or Gonio Town?

If you want to do something actually exciting near Kvariati or Gonio Town, I would recommend taking this hike for the spectacular views of Batumi, Kvariati, Gonio and the Black Sea.


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Author: Mantas Ališauskas
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