Greetings from Georgia 🙂
On Thursday morning I left hotel around noon (seems to be quite normal time in my schedule if nothing bigger is planned for that date).
Nothing special happened in Turkey side, I had a plan to stop before the border and spent rest of my coins, but I reached border faster than was planned.
Some guy guided me through the Turkey border, so everything went really fast. Of course this guy then started asking money… His price was 20TL, when I told him that my money is still in bank, he changed his price to 20€ 🙂
Then I got brilliant idea, I gave Turkish coins to him. I think total value of those coins was around 3-4€, not excactly what he was asking, but he did not refuse my offer 🙂
Georgian border was really fast and easy! One police check, where they checked bike and dude papers. Then officer said to me “welcome to Georgia” 🙂 Nice and easy! Only thing what I was wondering was insurance, no-one asked my insurance and I did not see any place which would sell them… So, onwards!
First impression from Georgia was: Roads got worse (paved roads, but big holes here and there), traffic also got more chaotic. Couldn´t look around at all because all focus was on traffic and road surface.
I have seen one travel document of Batumi, so decided to stay one night there and walk around a bit.
Finding a place to stay for a night was bigger task than expected. Radisson Blu has normally had reasonable prices, but this time I got quoted 336USD!!! After getting back up from the floor (shocked by the price), I just commented “it is a bit out of my budget” and left without looking back. Price in next 5 hotels got gradually down, but price was still too high. I got some help from locals and found ok hotel with reasonable price. Batumi seems to be really, really expensive place!
Painkiller and short rest helped and I was able to go out and walk around. This time I remembered to drink enough (no, not beer :)).
Batumi has several big hotels with casinos. Shore area has been built really nicely.
Of course, Batumi is not only expensive hotels and nice beach. Close to the expensive area starts apartment blocks where locals live and they are not similar as 5-star hotels… So, big contrast between buildings as also with cars…
I also noticed strange alphabets. I had never seen these alphabets before, luckily Google clarified things. For me they look similar as writing in innerside of the “Lord of the Rings” -ring.
One thing what I also noticed was people, who were not as open and friendly as in Turkey. It was only a first short view of Georgia, so decided to see how people are outside of this touristic area.
On Friday I filled tank with cheap Georgian fuel (2,25GEL/l, Georgian Lari) and continued towards inland on road P1.
P1-road looked big on my map, but surface got worse and worse. In the beginning it had decent pavement, then appeared holes and finally it was really rough gravel. Most of the day I used only 1st and 2nd gear. I could have ridden faster, but there was no sense to break anything from the bike and I am not in a hurry 😉
Further I got, people seemed to become friendlier and more open. People waved their hand to me and I returned to their greeting, cars sounded their horn or flashed their lights. When I stopped, people came talk to me and checked the bike. Good and friendly people also here (outside of touristic areas)!
Around 4pm I stopped for late lunch to a roadside restaurant. Walked in and ordered meat soup. Soon I was invited to another table where 1 Georgian and 3 Russians where having their meal together with beer and vodka.
I was offered vodka many times, but alway refused and sticked with lemonade 🙂 Still they poured one glass of vodka to me and just asked me to toast with them.
Then they wanted to have few photos taken with me.
When I was ready to continue and wanted to pay my soup and lemonade this Georgian guy said to me that I am guest and cannot pay! He payed my lunch! What a hospitality!!! Great!
Continued couple of hours more jumping up and down with my bike when I saw one group camping close to the river. Decided to check with them if it is safe to camp there due to wild animals. They said it is no problem, so made camp there also.
Later I found out that one of them was german named David. He had been living in Sweden and now couple of years in Georgia. He is doing voluntary work here. Got some hints from him where to go and what to see. Thank you David!
Later in the evening I joined their campfire for a while. David was there with a group that he helps in Georgia, also one woman from Switzerland was part of the group (unfortunately I missed her name).
Saturday morning I went to give my farewells for the group. After few photos (forgot to take photo myself…) I waved to them and headed towards Vardzia (N41 22.698 E43 17.168). Nice group of people! All the best for all of them!
Couple kilometers from the camping spot road suddenly got much better and I was able to gain some kilometers once again.
Ride to Vardzia was enjoyably because of good, twisty road, only few other cars on the road, nice valley road and good weather!
Vardzia cave city is easy to spot from a distance, so you cannot miss it.
Climbed up to the caves and spent some time going through them.
These caves are a bit different compared to Derenkuyu, because Derenkuyu is totally underground and this site has been carved to mountain wall.
Road from Ahalkalaki towards Tbilisi climbed over 2000m high. Temperature dropped so much that I needed to put top layer to my jacket against cold wind.
Up in the mountains I started to look possible place to camp, but before it I needed to visit grocery store. Villages up in the mountains were looking really poor and I could not find any stores from there.
In Manglisi (around 40km to Tbilisi) I finally saw grocery store, purchased everything I needed and rode to the woods. After a little search I found good place to put up my camp. Soon after Polish couple came there with their 4WD car and camped in same area.
Later in the evening I joined their campfire for a beer and nice chat. Really nice couple!
Sunday morning I started to think that I should maybe change the name of my blog to “encounters”. Reason for this is that I have met such a wonderful people during my trip. This has been something that I did not expect at all beforehand.
Today ride was short, my target was just to get to Tbilisi and find place to stay overnigh (needed desperately shower ;)).
Now staying in “Green Stairs -hostel”. Price is only 25GEL and good position.
Met here in hostel a nice couple from Estonia. I heard words which sounded similar to finnish words, so guessed immediately where they are coming from.
Original plan was to continue on Monday to Armenia, but got message that one overlander from UK is at the moment here, so will have beer with him tomorrow and continue to Armenia on Tuesday (benefit of extremely flexible schedule :)).