Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’


Another pause – this time in Tehran. Time to make a new video. Hope you like it!!


Our nice little camping spot on the lawns in front of an abandoned factory seemed high profile judging by the number of kids visiting us. The military also visited us – and kicked us out. We are now sleeping in someone’s house that is being renovated with a spectacular view over the mountains. This is called going with the flow.

Our living room in Ayrum

Our living room in Ayrum

Armenia on a sunny day. We were welcomed by the border guards with their impressive tall green hats. We collected some drams (the currency) and were on our way, following the border river.

Drams

Drams

The small village of Ayrum was chosen as our end point of the day. A kind lady who spoke German pointed out a nice abandoned factory with lots of lovely lawns for pitching a tent. On getting to the factory, we passed the army barracks. They wanted our sunglasses, and James obliged, giving a spare set of spacey sunglasses. I was allowed, then, to try out the beret.

Armenian beret

Armenian beret

So, they knew about us. And they knew where we were camping. We set up the tent, and the soldiers visited our campsite, together with the kids, multiple times. We also socialized with the neighbours – with all 3 generations.

The neighbours

The neighbours

On the 3rd visit from the soldiers, the boss told us we could not camp. We were near the Georgian border. (We weren’t.) Our neighbours spoke to the soldier – could we camp in their garden? No, said the soldier. So, we are now in their second house that they are renovating – up on the hill above the village. What lovely people!

Our Ayrum hosts

Our Ayrum hosts

View from our verandah

View from our verandah


Since our dash to Tbilisi against the wind, we have completed a relaxing week with our great new Tbilisi friends Pieter, Floor and Mathias. Repairs, collecting mail, catching up on the blog and buying odd bits and pieces, was combined with mountain walks, city walks, a visit to castles and cave cities and a stimulating Green Pedals visit to the QSI school in Tbilisi. Thank you very much Pieter and Floor for the great hospitality and the amazing time!!

And I had time to put together a video of the next part of my trip. 🙂

Cave city at Vardzia

Cave city at Vardzia


We made it! Stage 2 of the bike trip is complete, and what a finale! Bright sun along the valley between the snow-capped small and large Caucasus mountains. A hurricane headwind making a cruising speed on the flat of 10km/h. And 2 flat tyres.

Plains before Tbilisi

Plains before Tbilisi

Photos can be deceiving. They give the landscape a serenity that I didn’t feel – except when I stopped, and looked. What beauty there was around me. The walls of rock in the distance, covered in snow, were spectacular. Cycling into the headwind, I didn’t notice them. My memory is blank between the stops. I was focussing on the next post, and the Chinese language course in my ears.

It was windy

It was windy

It was a rush to cover the 120km to Tbilisi before dark. Short stops to consume as many calories as possible, and then continue. At one stop, the Georgian Easter bunny came early and left a typical Georgian gift on our bikes – alcohol.

The easter bunny has arrived

The easter bunny has arrived

Two stops were to fix a flat tyre.

Flat tyre number 1

Flat tyre number 1

One stop to observe the Love Tourism bus. We saw the Love Tourism bus hotel when we were in Batumi – a city with quite a reputation.

The Love Bus

The Love Bus

One stop to let the donkeys pass.

Donkey rush hour

Donkey rush hour

And some stops to take in the scenery.

Hay petrol station

Hay petrol station

Plains before Tbilisi

Plains before Tbilisi


The sun was ‘a shining and the wind was ‘a blowing . The snow-capped mountains were our spectacular horizon companion in the morning and the evening. In between, we slogged into the wind over a 920m pass. Our tents are erected for the evening on the grass in the Coliseum-like sport stadium in Khashuri.

Early morning mountains

Early morning mountains

I am now the proud owner of a bike with new brake-pads. I have proved that my bike maintenance skills extend beyond changing a flat tyre. After reading horror stories of people coming down high passes in the rain without being able to stop, I thought, take the time to change the pads that were passed their prime.

I knew the climb was over 50km, and would rise to almost 1000m. The fierce headwind got to me, and I was exhausted, even before the climb had started in earnest. Sometime knowing what is ahead is more of a hindrance than a help.

Village shop

Village shop

On the way up we passed numerous stalls selling pottery and statues of leopards. On the way down we passed numerous stalls selling a kind of raisin bread, and the pottery moulds used to bake them.

Georgian sweet bread

Georgian sweet bread

The descent into Khashuri was lovely, overlooking the valley with the high, snow capped mountains as a backdrop.

View over Khushuri

View over Khushuri

Church near Khashuri

Church near Khashuri

We have created some interest setting up our tent in the sport stadium. The rugby team was practicing, then the young kids played soccer. A group of girls then dropped by and screamed. I’m sure we are featuring on Facebook (assuming the landline internet is better than the mobile internet).. ☺

Cooking at the stadium

Cooking at the stadium


We left Samtredia, back down the road we had come up yesterday evening in the rain. Today we were riding under clear skies towards a wall of snow-capped peaks. In front loomed the snow capped minor Caucacus. We turned and behind us, on the other side of the wide valley were the massive white peaks of the major Caucacus. The mountains surrounded us today as we cycled down the bumpy road through farming, rural Georgia.

Rural Georgian village

Rural Georgian village

All animals roamed the road – pigs, cows, ducks, geese, a goat.

Farmhouse

Farmhouse

Church

Church

A local

A local

The people were very welcoming. James was invited into a local wine producer, and was given many glasses of wine to try. I was ahead on the road, and eventually saw his message to return. We got a tour of the ornate house and farm, including turkeys that responded to my call.

Wine making friends

Wine making friends

The kids were curious at the lunch stop.

Georgian kids

Georgian kids

We are all excited – camping for the first time since we restarted our trip in March. (It has been too cold up to now..) Nestled in the foothills of the minor Caucacus, we have a great view over the snow capped mountains behind.

Mountains

Mountains


When you have a tailwind, make the most of it. We cycled, blown by the wind, and made some kilometres. We also cycled through the teeming rain, punctuated by stops squelching into a café to warm up, and a short visit at the stormy Black Sea coast.

Black Sea coast

Black Sea coast

That was kind of it, really. We are seeing signs for Yerevan and Baku. Kind of cool. No more photo opportunities as it was too wet and bloody cold.