This spectacular two countries combination of Turkey and Georgia starts in Kayseri, Central Anatolia in Turkey.
After arrival in Kayseri we embark on the Doğu express train, also called Doğu ekspresi. Running from Ankara to Kars, it is the longest train journey in Turkey and among the world most epic train rides. The train finds its way through the rocky wilds of North-eastern Anatolia and stops in İlica, Erzincan and Erzurum for excursions to the hinterland. The train journey ends at the imposing Russian station in Kars where we will stay for two nights, before setting off to neighbouring country Georgia.
Barely discovered by the average traveller, Georgia is a country with a very strong national character, visible in many aspects, from having their own Christian branch to a unique architectural style, a very elaborate cuisine considered the best in the former Soviet Union and a deeply rooted wine culture.
Historical heart of Kayseri
Silk road village of Kemaliye
Amazing Girvelek waterfall and Erzincan
Remains of the Seljuk and Ottoman era in Erzurum
Archeological – and Unesco World heritage site Ani and other remains of the Armenian Kingdom.
The Russian houses of Kars
Local food specialities
Citadel of Akhaltsikhe
Bojomi-Kharagauli national park
Mtskheta, the ancient capital of the Eastern Georgian Kingdom
Stalin museum in Gori
Highlights of Batumi
Wine and chacha (liquor)
Day 1. Arrival in Kayseri.
After arrival in Kayseri in the late afternoon visit to it’s historical centre. The covered market, beautifully decorated Döner Kümbet, Huant Hatun Mosque, Medrese and Clocktower are among the sights. At 23.28 hrs embark the touristic Doğu express train with sleeper cabin for two and crisp clean bedding. There is a sink and mini fridge.
Overnight: train (bed only)
Day 2.Kemaliye- Girvelek waterfalls-Erzurum-Kars.
Following arrival of the train at Ilıç at 06.50, bus ride to Silk route town of Kemaliye, situated on the banks of the Firat river and known for its old wooden houses. After lunch we take our seats in the train again and continue the journey to Erzincan. In Erzincan we stop for visit to the amazing Girvelek waterfalls and then continue to Erzurum.
Erzurum is Turkey’s highest and most exposed city and has a long history. The Seljuk buildings in the town are remarkable. Next door to Ulu Mosque is the Cifte Minareli (Double Minaret) Medrese (theological school), which is the most famous feature of the city. After visiting Taşhan, old shopping centre where we hear all about the black Oltu stone used to make rosary beads, it is time to eat famous Cağ kebap, a traditional meat dish before we continue our journey on the Doğu express.
On arrival in Kars at ca. 01.00 hrs. Transfer to hotel in Kars.
Overnight: Kars (Bed and Breakfast)
Day 3. Ani- Bagnairmonasteries- Kızıl Kilise (Red Church) – Kars.
Kars, standing at an altitude of 1,750 meters in Eastern Anatolia, has played an important role in Turkish history and was at the centre of the Turkish-Russian War during 1877-1878 after which it remained under the Russian rule for about 40 years. The Russian legacy can still be seen in much of the town’s architecture.
After breakfast set off for Ani, the capital of Bagratid Armenia, bounded on one side by the gorge of the Arpaça (Akhurian) river, which forms Turkey’s border with the Armenian Republic.Impressive fortified walls still encircle the ruins of numerous churches, mosques and caravansaries. Then continue to neighbouring villages to explore Bagnair Armenian Monastery ruins and cave, probably used as a Zoroastrian fire temple,and Kızıl church (Kamir Vank). After lunch visit to the cheese museum,located in a former dairy farm.At the end of the afternoon head back to Kars to explore the Russian buidings and castle.
Overnight: Kars (Bed and Breakfast)
Day 4.Posof – Türkgözü-Borjomi-KaragauliNationalPark- Bakuriani
Early breakfast and head to Türkgözü for border crossing with Georgia. Step over the border and into the area where a Turkish population used to live. During the Stalinist repression almost the entire Turkish intelligentsia was exiled from Georgia. In the small city of Akhaltsika,we explore the rebuilt castle and mosque. We then continue to Borjomi-Karagauli National Park, a beautiful protected area with a variety of natural landscapes. The park is famous for its naturally carbonated mineral water which has a volcanic origin. Following a visit to Borjomi recreation centre continue to Bakuriani ski – and spa Resort. Enjoy the Spa centre of the hotel or join the group for a hike in the beautiful mountains.
Overnight: Bakuriani; Spa hotel (HB)
Day 5.Kukushka historical train- Tbilisi
After breakfast we take the Kukushka ‘’little cuckoo train’’.The journey to Borjomi is slow, through green valleys and gorges, along the breathtaking steepsides and on old bridges. It takes 2,5hrs to cover the railway (37 km) but it’s worth it. We then head to Tbilisi(Tiflis) a nice panoramic route along the Kura (Mtkvari) river.Tbilisi is the capital of the country of Georgia. The cobblestoned old town reflects a long complicated history. Its diverse architecture encompasses Eastern Orthodox churches, ornate art nouveau buildings and Soviet Modernist structures. Looming over it all are Narikala, a reconstructed 4th-century fortress, and Kartlis Deda, an iconic statue of the “Mother of Georgia.”
Overnight: Tbilisi (Bed and Breakfast)
Day 6. Tbilisi City tour
Tbilisi city tour is the best way of discovering this cosy city and our first stop is Tsminda Sameba –the highest temple in Georgia. Then, the trip continues to the historical district of Metekhi to explore the Assumption Church located on the picturesque hill. We reach the fortress Narikala by the cable car to enjoy a breath-taking panoramic view of Tbilisi and have some great walking around the Old Town.No trip in Tbilisi is complete without strolling around Rustavelli Avenue andcosy Shardeni Street with cafes, boutiques and fashionable galleries.
After dinner;optional visit to dance Show or Opera in the historical Opera house,or other night amusement.
Overnight: Tbilisi (Bed and Breakfast)
Day 7.MTSCHETA–GORİ- STALİN MUSEUM -KUTAİSİ – BATUM
After breakfast, set off to Mtsheta, old capital of Georgia for visit to Jvarimonastery and Svetitskhoveli cathedral. The Georgians who were among the first to accept Christianity started initially to build their churches in caves. Then, when the population grew and their fears disappeared they started to build wooden churches and finally churches out of stone. In Mtscheta we will see nice examples of this development.
From Mtscheta continue to Gori for a visit to the castle, a 13thcentury fortified castle complex and the Stalin museum.Then continue towards the Black Sea coast and hold in Kutaisi, the second largest city of Georgia for a visit to the Bagrati cathedralon Ukimerioni Hill overlooking the city.
In Sataplia visit to the grotto, where dinosaur footprints were found. In the late afternoon continue to Batumi, on the Black Sea coast and port city.
Overnight: Batumi (Bed and Breakfast)
Day 8.Batumi city tour- HOPA- TRABZON (airport)
Batumi—the “Pearl of the Black Sea,” as it is often called—is located in the autonomous republic of Adjara. It’s history date back to the 4thcentury BC and was it was ruled by the Ottoman approximately 300 years. European architects undertook numerous projects in Batumi at the beginning of the 20th century, and today it remains a hub of architectural innovation. After we explored the city we continue to Sarpi border for border crossing to Turkey. En route we hold Gonia castle for a quick visit.
After passing the Sarpi border we will meet with our Turkish bus and drive to Trabzon directly to catch up with our evening flight home.
The price Includes:
- 1 night in 2 persons sleeper cabin ( bed only)
- 7 nights accommodation in good middle class hotels ( 3-4 stars)
- 7 x breakfast in hotels
- 1 x dinner in hotel
- Bus transfers
- Full day bus & driver for 7 days
- English speaking Turkish guide
- Türsab compulsory health insurance
- Admissions fees for museums and sites
- Admissions fees for National Parks
The price excludes
- Flight tickets
- Lunches and 6 x dinners
- personal expenses and shows