Caucasus + Western Asia

Here you’ll find all the articles and short posts I’ve published about hitchhiking and hospitality in the Caucasus + Western Asia. I traveled in countries such as Georgia, Armenia, Iran, and Turkey mostly in 2014.

  • Georgia: my best friend whom I met at university comes from Georgia, so I visited there for the first time for New Year’s in 2012/2013. Then in summer 2014, I hitchhiked from the Netherlands to Tbilisi in five days to attend her wedding. After that, I traveled back and forth to Georgia from Armenia and Abkhazia, living in Tbilisi’s Vake Park with a band of cool people and absolute weirdos.
  • Armenia: I visited Armenia twice in 2014. Once with a Polish friend on a short trip, and once on my way to Iran.
  • Abkhazia: I visited this disputed territory after getting travel permission in Zugdidi. It was a strange place, but also incredibly beautiful. I had a lot of fun at Stalin’s Dacha and in Gagra.
  • Iran: after picking up my visa in Armenia, I hitchhiked around Iran for 28 days in October/November 2014. These were some excellent times!
  • Turkey: I’ve been to Turkey four times, of which twice with my family. The last two times I was there speed hitchhiking through to get to that wedding on time. The second time, after Iran, I had more time to explore between Van, Batman, Hatay, Mersin, Northern Cyprus, Ankara, Eskişehir, and İstanbul.

Because of the top-tier hospitality in the Caucasus + Western Asia, I’m longing to return pretty much every day I’m feeling a little uninspired.

Bonzur, Mahébourg?! Traveling from Istanbul to Mauritius (Semi-Live Blog)

On the 3rd of December 2021, we’re hopefully flying from Istanbul Airport (IST) in Turkey to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (MRU aka Port Louis Airport) in Mauritius. I’m updating this post as we go. If you’re here for the documents checklist to enter Mauritius, click here.    Booking Mauritius Before we even arrived in Turkey, I already knew I didn’t want to spend the full 90 days here. It would be too cold by the end of our visa. And Jonas wanted to spend at least one month in Istanbul, which would result in too little time toContinue reading

The Great Synagogue of Edirne: My First Synagogue Visit (Turkey)

During our eight-day stay in Edirne, Turkey, I had a very long list of places to visit or check out. The city is really full of history. One site stood out on Google Maps: the Great Synagogue of Edirne. When I read that it’s actually open to visit for non-Jews, I thought it would be cool to go there. So on November 30th, 2021 we visited. Why Have I Never Been to a Synagogue? The Synagogue Exterior More rain was in the forecast for later. Jonas navigated to the synagogue because he really wanted to walk via Saraçlar Caddesi—the mainContinue reading

Ayasofya Mosque Visit in 2021: from Museum to Mosque—Foggy vs Sunny Day

These events happened on the 5th and 21st of November 2021. Jonas and I visited the Ayasofya (aka Hagia Sophia) on a rather spontaneous basis. This was my second visit to the Ayasofya and my first visit since it became a mosque in July 2020. Click here to read about my Istanbul and Hagia Sophia experiences from March/April 2013. There’s also a breakdown of Hagia Sophia as a ‘wonder’ in the videogame Age of Empires II down below. A Change of Plans We arrived at the İDO pier at the indicated time of 9:30. During the downhill walk from ourContinue reading

How to Get a Turkish SIM Card (In the Small and Non-Touristic Towns of Turkey)

We bought our Turkish SIM cards on Monday the 25th of October, one day after arriving in Karasu. Karasu is a port town on the Black Sea coast and we’d arrived by ferry. It’s relatively small and getting a Turkish SIM card wasn’t straightforward. This post is supposed to help people who are also arriving in Turkey by land or sea and in a smaller town away from places geared toward foreigners. Our Experience Buying a Turkish SIM Card in Karasu FAQ Turkish SIM Card + Internet Freedom in Turkey Which provider should I choose? There are three telecom providersContinue reading

Ukraine to Turkey by Boat: Booking a Black Sea Ferry from Chornomorsk to Karasu

On the 22nd of October 2021, we’re hoping to depart Ukraine after staying there for 88/89 days via a Black Sea ferry. These ferries leave from the town of Chornomorsk outside of Odesa, southern Ukraine. Out of several destinations, we eventually decided to take the Chornomorsk to Karasu ferry. Karasu is in northern Turkey some 200 kilometers east of Istanbul. This article is about booking the ferry and our preparations. To read about our experience, visit the page about the journey [TBA]. The Black Sea Ferry Idea Plans after Ukraine Though we had a generous 90 days upon arrival inContinue reading

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan?! Traveling from DXB to FRU (Semi-Live Blog)

After 88 days of 90 allowed days in the UAE, it’s time to leave. Jonas and I chose Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan as the next place to go during this pandemic with limited choices. Follow this post for the coming days to see how things are going. Also, the latest date is always on top. Use the table of contents to skip to the date you want to read about. This is a semi-live blog that I’ll update throughout the journey. I’ll add photos once I’m back on my laptop.  Wednesday, 28th of April: Arrived in Bishkek Too sleepy to writeContinue reading

Sharjah’s Abandoned Airport—Al Mahatta Museum

On the 21st of April, 2021 we visited Al Mahatta Museum in Sharjah. The nearby King Abdul Aziz Street is the former runway of Sharjah’s old airport (RAF Sharjah). There’s an Abandoned Airport in the Middle of Sharjah You might already know that I really love visiting abandoned airports. Same for abandoned aircraft, which you can often find there. So when Jonas told me that there’s an abandoned airport right in my favorite city in the UAE, I knew I needed to go. The thing is, Sharjah’s appetite for growth already devoured this airport’s runway whole. It has been thisContinue reading

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Fujairah—How to Visit as a Non-Muslim

This article contains both a story of how we managed to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Fujairah (as non-Muslims) as well as actionable tips. We visited on Wednesday the 7th of April, 2021. To skip forward to the how-to, click here. UAE Mosques that Allow Non-Muslim Visitors There aren’t that many mosques in the UAE where non-Muslims can enter. The most famous ones are in Dubai (e.g. the quite commercialized Jumeirah Mosque) and in Abu Dhabi (also called the ‘Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque’). On our journey from Dibba Al Fujairah to Fujairah City, we made a stop atContinue reading

Madha and Nahwa Exclaves in Oman + UAE—Traveling Through the Donut Hole

Events in this story happened on Thursday the 1st of April, 2021. From Fujairah, Jonas and I visited the Omani exclave of Madha for the second time. Then we continued onward and visited the second-order enclave of Nahwa within the Madha exclave. This is how we did it. Click here to find a vital route map and for our tips on how to visit Madha and Nahwa. Why Are Madha and Nahwa Exclaves? A brief history: back in the olden days, there were many rivaling sheikhdoms in this area. The ruling clans relevant to this story are the Al QassimiContinue reading