Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ankara to Kars, and Ani

Last night after train trip from Ankara lasting just over 24 hours, I arrived in Kars.  The trip was better than I thought it would be.  Although I was in a couchette and not in the sleeping car, I was able to sleep quite comfortably and I had the compartment to myself the entire way.  The restaurant car was just one car away, and pretty good and reasonably priced.  The scenery was spectacular.  The train was pretty clean and modern - a far cry from the awful Serbian train I took from Belgrade to Sofia.  The journey was slow, and seemed to get slower the slower we got to Kars.  I was glad at that point that it was slow, because if that train had derailed, we would have fallen down the side of a mountain into a deep valley.

Ankara station just before boarding

My compartment

The mountains that I saw the next morning

Near empty dining car

View from my room in Kars

Near my hotel in Kars

Just after getting to the hotel, I realized that I left my North American to European plug converter on the train.  Damn!  I had been charging my phone on the train, and I left my adapter plugged into the power outlet in my compartment.  Last night while walking around Kars after eating, I went into one little electronics shop to ask if they had something like that.  All they had was phone chargers.  I was beginning to worry that I would have to get to a major city like Tbilisi before finding a replacement.

When I checked into the hotel last night there was this guy named Celil who was hanging out at the desk.  He said that if I want to go to Ani he could take me there.  The price was a bit steep, but he was trying to get somebody else go go also, and if he did that, we could split the price.  The deal was that he would take us there and back.  So this morning at 9AM we left for Ani.  I mentioned to Celil that I needed to find a power adapter.  He said he knew where to get one of those.  We stopped at two places and the second place had one.  Whew.

Ani was the capital of the Armenian medieval kingdom.  In 1064, the Seljuks came in and conquered it.  The ruins are a mixture of Armenian and Seljuk.  Ani is east of Kars, right on the Armenian border.  It is right along a gorge that has a river at the bottom, and the border runs down the middle of the river.  There are Armenian watchtowers in easy view of Ani.

That watchtower is across the border in Armenia.

The border runs though the river at the bottom of the gorge.

Tomorrow morning I am going to Georgia.  Not the one where Atlanta is, but the one that you can see Russia from.  I was originally thinking that I would head over to Hopa (a Turkish town on the Black Sea coast, near the Georgian border) and then make my way across the border, head to Batumi, then get an overnight train to Tbilisi.  But Celil says that there is a bus leaving at 7:30 tomorrow morning for Tbilisi - not from the main bus station in Kars, but from a gas station nearby.  He says he knows the driver.  I'm going to take that bus, because when I come back to Turkey after traveling in Georgia and Armenia, I will come back on the Batumi - Hopa route anyway.


  1. It was kind of a bummer that I couldn't see Ararat because of the clouds. But I got to see it from Yerevan, which is not very far from Ani, but I had to go through Georgia to get there because the border is closed.