Another cold start with less than -10 degrees celcius in the morning. I think I will get used to it though. Met a cool dog. She ran along beside me for about 4km before giving up…
The plan was to find a place to stay in Akhaltsikhe Town for a couple of days before heading to Batuumi – the last main town in Georgia on the Black Sea coast, near the Turkey border. This changed somewhat in Akhatsikhe when I asked Nugzar, a local university student, where an internet cafe was…
Nugzar and his friend took it upon themselves to show me to the internet cafes. Being close to the new year, cafe after cafe was closed. As we walked to the third internet cafe, Nugzar explained that he had to catch a bus to his home town, Ude Town, at 5pm.
“Roberts, you come to Ude?” he asked out of the blue.
I was feeling fairly tired from the five days of cycling in snow and on busy highways, and would have been just as keen just to crash in a hotel room for a few days. But I spoke before thinking.
“Yeah, why not?” I replied.
Nugzar assured me that it would be no problem to put my bike, luggage and all, onto the bus for the half hour bus ride to Ude Town.
Indeed it was no problem, and at 6pm we arrived in Ude, a sleepy little town on the side of a mountain.
Originally, Nugzar and I had discussed that I would catch a bus back to Akhaltsikhe the next day (30th Dec), however his family were adamant that I would stay until at least the 2nd or 3rd of January. I mentally prepared myself for some major cultural experiencing.
Basically, the three days I spent at the Khuljanishvili family’s home was spent eating copious amounts of food, politely refusing to skull thier wine (there is no such thing as sipping wine in Georgia, it seems), and wandering around the town.
Being in Ude gave me the opportunity to go to an Orthodox Christian church service. Lots of chanting and melodic harmony…
Now I had heard of the Georgian’s amazing hospitality, and thanks to Uajar Khuljanishvili and his family, I managed to experience it first hand. Thank you so very much!
The day started off with a chilly -13 degrees celcius in the morning with a strong wind that made the cold feel like a sharp razor blade on any exposed skin. I accidentally broke a tent peg that had become brittle in the cold ground. The river next to which I was camped had frozen considerably since last night…
In contrast to the last few days where all my concentration wasa absorbed by the need to stay alive on the busy highway, today was a quiet and enjoyable ride, albiet on an icy road…
Soon after I had hit the road, one of the many white BC Pipeline Toyota Landcruisers stopped ahead of me, and out jumped an Aussie named Todd. He kindly gave me some water (all mine was frozen). I was quietly envious of the warm looking vehicle…
Another highlight of the day was the restored Green Monastery. Hidden away up a narrow valley, it was silently nestled in a snow covered forest.
English Summary: One way or another I will get off this M1 highway. Almost hit by two large trucks, I pushed my bike for two hours along the side of the road, watching in awe at the insane overtaking manouvers of cars and trucks. Decide to take smaller quieter road, the M8, and am happy to be on a quieter road. I get varying reports on the pass to Batuumi. Some people say there is 3m of snow, some say it is open and no problem.そのM1国道にはもう走れませんでした。2回も大型トラックに引かれそうになって、自転車から降りて道の横に2時間近く押して進みました。
In the morning I had a feeling that the skies would unleash a fury on me, and indeed they did just before Gori Town. The heavy snow continued from 11am until 2pm.During this time I sheltered in a petrol station office, where the staff kindly allowed me to eat my lunch and warm up by their electric heater.
I had seriously considered staying a night in Gori, but as the weather eased in the afernoon, I headed out of Gori and over a small pass to just past a small village called Rusi.
The small farm road I used to get to my campspot for the night was covered in knee deep snow – a real challenge when you have low panniers on the bike.
English Summary: the first 20km or so of Georgia’s M1 main highway were great. Smooth, new highway. The rest of the day was in first gear slogging my way through soft gravel on the side of the road – too dangerous to be on the road itself – so much traffic.グルジアの一番主な国道に走っています。最悪です。
I have arrived in Europe. Well, the most Europe-like city I have encountered so far on this trip. Cobbled streets (look nice but are rotten for cycling or driving on), stone buildings…
But tomorrow it is goodbye T’Bilisi. I head west once again towards the Black Sea to the coast town of Bat’umi.
Sorry for the lack of photos of people…I still haven’t plucked up the courage to ask people if I can take their photo.
Last night’s campsite was a good one. Overlooking T’Bilisi’s satellite city, Rust’Avi. A shepherd tending his flock of 400 (?!) sheep and goats wandered over and had a chat. Luckily he spoke Russian. I am finding that less and less people speak Russian here in Georgia. Especially the younger folk but also some of the older generation also.
On the way into T’Bilisi I met this cyclist going the other way. Passionate cylists are great. He is wearing a tank helmet and a visor.
Got my first dog bite today. Well, my panniers did. That’s a hole in the rear right pannier. I suppose it’s better than a hole in my leg.
It did get me a little riled however, since the dog belonged to the petrol station that I was cycling past, and the attendants didn’t even bat an eyelid. The dog was jolly ferocious, and they did nothing. Maybe they get off on seeing their dog attack cyclists…
Jolly cold this morning. A mild -9 degrees celcius. Great weather for camping.The last few kms to the Azerbaijan border were fairly straight forward, as was getting out of Azerbaijan. Georgia impresses me with it’s zero tollerance to corruption in the public sector. They have special police at the border whose sole job is to enforce the no bribe policy.
And in no central Asian country would you see a sign like this.
Azerbaijan has a ferral dog issue. In no other country have I been kept awake in the middle of nowhere at night in my tent by howling and scrapping dogs.
Today took me through hibernating vineyards, and in one particular town I got the biggest crowd of spectators yet when I stopped to get some food from a shop.
More of the same narrow busy roads. However as usual, the closer you get to a border, the scarcer traffic gets. Towards the end of the day it was nice quiet country roads once again.