Georgia was our next destination after Turkey. The country belonged to the former Soviet Union and was a popular tourist destination during that time. Now when we have cycled through the country, we understand that the good food, the wine and the magical green nature must have attracted many tourists over the years.
The nature of Georgia is incredibly beautiful. We cycled in the mountains all the way from Batumi to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. The landscape was so green that we couldn’t tell if we had accidently put some kind of filter on our photos. There were fruit trees with plums, peaches and pears everywhere and if we needed some extra energy, we could just stop to pick some fruits along the road.
In Georgia’s beautiful landscape there were also villages that looked totally forgotten. Cows were strolling around outside the police station and in the roundabout in the city centre. There were probably more “loose” cows than people in some villages.
We cycled together with Vincent and Michel through Georgia as well. If you have read Eva’s previous blog post, you know that they are the French guys that we have cycled with since Istanbul in Turkey. We started our Georgia tour in Batumi and stayed there an extra day to study the map and plan the route through the country. The plan was to cycle from Batumi, the “northern route” to Gori, Tbilisi and then to Azerbaijan.
It was raining when we left Batumi on our first day of cycling. This is one of the days that we remember the most in Georgia, maybe on the whole trip. The rain continued to pour down all day. As long as it is not cold outside it is fine to cycle in the rain, but in the evening it is nice to be able to take shelter somewhere. When the evening came, we started to look for a covered place to pitch our tent. Many houses we passed were built in the same way and had a large terrace with a roof. We thought it would be a perfect spot for our tents.
On a small street we were lucky to meet Beka. He spoke a little bit of English and we explained that we were looking for a place to pitch our tent. He made a quick call on his phone and then he looked up at us and yelled, “Come here! You can stay in friends house! “. We followed Beka into an even smaller dirt road and after a couple of hundred metres we arrived in a garden filled with colourful flowers and grapes. An old lady met us with open arms. Beka told us “This is grandmother, she likes you!” She did not speak English but with gestures she invited us to her little house and showed us that we could pitch the tent under the roof on the terrace.
While we changed our clothes we could see how our new friends made bread for us over an open fire. We also had one of our best showers (yes, we rank our showers nowadays). The water in the shower got warmed up from the fireplace where the old lady made the bread for us.
It became a memorable evening at Beka’s and his friends’ house in the colourful garden. We slept very well to the sound of thunder and the raindrops that fell on the roof above us.
We got invited to stay with the curious locals almost every evening. Since Georgia is covered by wine yards, we tried their locally produced wine and we also enjoyed a lot of Kachapori, which is a type of thin bread with cheese inside. It can be found everywhere.
Bread is an important part of the food culture in many countries that we have passed. We have definitely consumed more bread than usual during this year and I have to admit that Kachapori is on the top 3 of bread types we have tried – hot and thin with melted and salty cheese.
The main roads of Georgia are very busy with both cars and trucks, but it is possible to find small parallel roads and wine routes that are perfect for cyclists. Certainly, we cycled hills with a 19% slope, but they were usually not that long and we could do it without any problems.
After five days of cycling we arrived in Tbilisi. It was 40 degrees and therefore not the best weather for doing touristic stuff. The sweat ran on my body even at night. Our accommodation was in the City Centre, near Freedom Square, we strolled around in the old town among cozy restaurants and had even more Kachapori. We also took a walk to Georgia’s largest church and spent as much time as we could with Vincent and Michel. Our trip together was almost over. We cycled with them from a florist-shop just outside of Istanbul to Tbilisi in Georgia and of course we had a lot of fun in between.
When we said goodbye, we promised each other that we would do more adventures together in the future. As usual, it’s very hard for me to say goodbye to people, but I think that maybe this trip has made me a little bit better at it. We’re ending up in so many different “good bye” situations every week I have to be happy and grateful instead of sad.
Eva and I continued our journey towards Azerbaijan and Baku. For the first time since the start of the journey (October 1st 2016) we were all alone. It felt good and we were excited.