Around the world by bike




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(413km -10days)

13/5 - 22/5 2008


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13 May - Batumi - Samtredia – 131 km

Once in tiny Georgia, everything appeared different from Turkey. Not only was Georgia less than a 10th of the size of Turkey it was far less populated and home to just 3.7 million people compared to the nearly 80 million in Turkey. Everything was vastly different the food, the people and even the scenery. Misty snow-capped mountains in the distance, wooded ravines with waterfalls and old ruins, gave a slightly medieval feel. It was a great day of cycling past many traditional homes on large plots suited to subsistence farming. The only thing that spoiled the scenery was the old disused factories from the former Soviet 5- and 10-year plans. Many of the villages looked half-forgotten with dilapidated buildings and villagers, seemingly, living under the breadline. The Georgians were extremely reserved, to such an extent that they even appeared unfriendly. They stare at us, and we at them, and the kids kept a safe distance, even the dogs seemed wary of us. That night we stayed in a room above a petrol station, with no hot water and torn bedding (we slept in our sleeping bags).



14 May - Samtredia - Zestaponi – 81 km

We peddled along admiring the scenery, while crossing rivers and passing through densely wooded areas and small villages, even although some were half abandoned and quite depressing looking. We found a place to pitch our tents next to a river in a very idyllic spot. We were still struggling to get used to the unsmiling people, so different from Turkey. The language, Georgian, was somewhat more tricky to master and appeared very much like Russian, or maybe they were indeed speaking Russian. We could hardly manage the basic words like hello, goodbye, and thank you.


15 May - Zestaponi - Agara – 85 km

We left rather late at 10.45, as it was such a sunny morning and such a beautiful spot. We stopped ever so often to buy cherries from roadside stalls, neatly platted on a stick. It was an enjoyable ride along the river and through the mountains, over a pass and down the other side. We stopped in Agara for a Khachapuri, the local staple. A friendly man invited us to camp under the verandah of a disused bar, as he thought it was going to rain. No sooner had we pitched our tents, and it did start pouring down - what a good thing we followed his advice. At least we could cook and sit outside our tents, as it poured the whole night.


16-21 May - Agara - Tbilisi – 116 km

The sky was still overcast as we packed up, but fortunately no rain. We cycled to Gori, the birthplace of Stalin, and had a look around. There was still an amazing number of statues of the man left including a large one in the town centre. We seemed to get a bit of rain just about every day. We did not mind as it was not cold and in such a lush green place one can expect rain on a daily basis.

We cycled into the capital, Tbilisi, and found that there were hardly any budget hotels in town. Eventually, we took a slightly pricey room, but with breakfast included it usually was a loss to the owners.


We were learning fast, and this time we first phoned the Azerbaijan embassy to find out if we could get a visa at the border. The answer was a definite “no”, and that we had to apply for one at the consulate where there was a 3-day processing time. In the meantime, we moved to cheaper accommodation nearer the centre of Tbilisi. Nasi’s Homestay is an institution, and popular with budget travellers where just about every nook and cranny is filled with beds and where we could stay for just a few Lari. It is, therefore, a place where one is bound to meet some interesting characters.


22 May - Tbilisi

We packed up and cycled to the embassy where we, as usual, had to wait in a long queue. Once inside the building, we were informed that we first had to pay for the visa at a bank in town. Then it was back on the bicycles into town where we'd just come from, and with receipt in hand, we returned to the embassy. After waiting in line again, we handed in all the papers and were told that we could collect it later that afternoon.


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