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ABAX Around The World has left the European continent and now we look to the east. Leaving Istanbul, the gateway between Europe and Asia, Stig heads towards Georgia via Ankara. The people, culture and surroundings begin to change noticeably and the sense of adventure heightens.

Stig has arrived in Batumi, Georgia. Not many of us have too much knowledge of this beautiful country that sits nestled amongst the Caucasus Mountains, the Black Sea and Russia. A brief military conflict in 2008 escalated the nation into the media spotlight but most will know of Georgia through international and continental football matches.

The facts

Georgia, with its 4.6 million inhabitants, has less than half the population of Greater London and is the size of mainland Scotland. The official language is Georgian and religion is predominantly Christian. Georgia has its own currency, the Georgian Lari.

Stig says

We have travelled from the east to the west of Turkey and crossed another boarder, this time into Georgia. I have left behind a proud nation with a smile on my face – I like Turkey. It is a captivating country with great people and a mesmerising history. I have read, Googled and interacted with people along the way. I want to learn as much about the population, cities and history as possible. It fascinates me. When I return to Norway, I want to be a wiser person. To achieve this, I must look behind me to the places I have been and take that knowledge forward with me.

TurkeyWe left Istanbul yesterday morning , taking the bridge over the Bosporus Strait . It was a great feeling to be driving a car into Asia. But it would take a long time from Bosporus until we were out of Istanbul. To my surprise, the city was far bigger in Asia than Europe. The Asian side of Istanbul held so much more beauty than its European sibling. The change in culture brought about a distinct change in skyline. Once again, this pan-continental city captivated me.

Then, with the sprawling city disappearing in the rear view mirror, the road opened up into a colossal 6 lane highway. Destination - Ankara. A special city with western influence, everything looks new. Major streets and high-rise buildings constructed from glass and aluminium. We are talking about a city that has grown from 3.2 million to 4.5million residents in 14 years. Ankara shows signs of development, befitting of any European capital city. We had plans for accommodation in Ankara, but I knew after an hour I was bored in the city. Everything was so damn new! There just wasn’t the plethora of narrow alleyways, vibrant bazaars and endless history that Istanbul offered.

We therefore jumped back in the car and hit the road again. The next leg of the journey will take us along the coastline of the Black Sea. Leaving Ankara behind we drive towards Samsun and its impressive harbour. To my delight we ride a cable car and stop to explore a 600 year old castle. The guide established that we are Norwegian and proceeds to wax lyrical about John Carew who spent 1 season playing for his beloved Besiktas.

The crossing into Georgia took only 30 minutes despite a full search of the car, bags and roof box. It quickly became apparent that we had forgotten to arrange insurance for our time in Georgia. But as we leave the crossing, there are very few cars and I am a good driver... so that is good enough.

Arriving in Batumi at night, the bright lights of the Casino paint the city in an interesting light. Gambling is illegal in Turkey and this change in culture looks to attract some shady characters. However, after a good night's sleep, the city will no doubt show off its treasure in the light of day.

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Click here to follow Stig's route in Google maps

/Chris Miller