Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Iranian Bus to Tbilisi

The plan was that at 7:30 this morning, I would be at a gas station outside of Kars,where a passing bus on the way from somewhere in Iran to Tbilisi would stop and pick me up.  Celil, the guy who took me to Ani and who apparently knows all the taxi drivers and everybody in the bus companies, knows about this bus.  He said he would pick me up at my hotel at 7:00AM to take me to the gas station, and that I would pay him 25TL for doing that.  The idea was to be on a bus that crosses the border to Georgia and keeps going, rather than having to take one bus to the border, walk across the border, and then find onward transport.

Celil kept checking his phone, and said that the bus had not arrived at the gas station, and that they couldn't reach the bus driver by phone.  We waited around about an hour.  Then Celil took me to a dolmuş stop in Kars, to get a dolmuş to Ardahan.  He didn't charge me anything since the bus was a no show (but I bet he gets kickbacks from the dolmuş drivers).  At Ardahan I waited until a little after 10:30 for another dolmuş to Posof, which is near the border.

The towns got progressively more poor looking, and the roads got worse, the nearer we got to the Georgian border.  In this part of Turkey there are houses with dirt roofs and grass growing on top, and I saw more of those types of houses.  These minibuses seem to be used for local parcel delivery too.  We stopped to pick up a bundle of newspapers, destined for someone in Posof.   We stopped at another place to pick up an inner tube, which they put in the back with all the luggage, and was hissing air out.  Some old man sitting next to me had a horrible cough.  I was thinking tuberculosis.Going to Posof, we went over some mountains.   There had been snow flurries in Ardahan, but up in the mountains the ground was completely covered with snow, and more snow was falling.  There was snow on the road too.  

There were three of us on the dolmuş to Posof that wanted to continue to Türkgözü, which is the town right on the border.  We stopped in Posof long enough for a quick bathroom break and then continued to Türkgözü.  The driver dropped us right at the border gate.  The three of us walked across the border.  On the Georgian side, I got quizzed.  I think it was because of the Iranian visa in my passport.  I think that confused them because, as  it turns out, a bus from Iran (I believe the same one I tried to get earlier, and was probably running late) was at the border being processed.

After getting through the immigration controls we stepped out of the building onto the Georgian side and the Iranian bus was right there, with a sign saying Tbilisi in Turkish in the window.  I paid the driver 20TL to take me to Tbilisi.  We ended up waiting around for a couple of hours at the border, however.  I think there was some issue with some of the passengers going through customs.  Right after finally leaving the border, the bus had to immediately stop and get fuel (much cheaper in Georgia than in Turkey).  By the time we were finally on the road it was after 4PM Georgian time, 2PM Turkish time (clocks go ahead two hours at the border).

We made another stop after a half hour or so, for people to quickly get something to eat at a row of shops.  I was pretty hungry by this time.  The Iranian passengers who were getting out to buy food had Georgian money.  I wonder where they got it, because I did not see an ATM at the border.  I was unable to get anything, because they would not accept my Turkish money.

The Iranian bus is nice.  I hope this is what all buses in Iran are like.  There is tons of legroom (about like business class on an airline, and it has real rugs in it.

At the bus station in Tbilisi, when I tried to ask taxi drivers to take me to the address of my Airbnb place, they didn't know the street.  They started out trying to charge me a ridiculous amount of money.   One I just walked away from when I heard the price, the other I got to come down by more than half.  The taxis are not metered and the two taxi drivers that I dealt with seem like complete sleaze bags.  This is why I hate taking taxis when I am not familiar with the system.


  1. thank you so much. sounds interesting. looking forward to hearing more about your travels…where are you headed to before you head back. sorry for asking question you've already answered in a previous post. i have posted link to your blog on my Facebook page. unfortunate that you cannot publish pictures...

    1. Going to Armenia tomorrow night, then back across Georgia , back to Turkey, then Iran. I can publish pictures, just didn't have any from this last post.