8th August 2017
We've been in Georgia for about a week now, and have been left in awe by the beauty of some of its mountainous regions.
We headed north from Batumi to a town called Mestia on some nice roads. Not long after lunch, the roads went from Tarmac to dirt pretty quickly. At exactly this time, the heavens opened up for the first time in 4 weeks (and only the 3rd time in total - we've been quite lucky!) This did a good job of turning the dirt road to mud.
We were surprisingly happy to see rain to be honest, not only did it make it cooler, but the riding got far more interesting and challenging. There's nothing like a bit of rain to make you feel that little bit more epic - pathetic fallacy for you English lit fans. Despite having almost new, top of the range tyres we slipped around a fair amount but managed to stay upright at all times.
We finally arrived in a town called Ushguli, famous for its spectacular array of watchtowers used to help defend the villages in the middle ages. It is situated at the foot of Mt Shkhara, one of the caucus regions highest mountains at 5200m - making Ushguli one of the highest settlements in Europe (yes we're technically back in Europe again).
Dave had been feeling a bit peaky all day, and we thought about taking a guesthouse for the night. We climbed to the top of one of the watchtowers though and saw the potential for a really nice camping spot. So glad we stuck it out because we found one of our best sites yet with an amazing view of peak-capped mountains.
The road carried on in its very remote, bumpy and jarring way making for a very tiring few hours of riding until we finally made it back to tarmac and got on the road to Tbilisi.
This brought our 10-night camping spree to an end. We've been joined by Amelia for a few days (making poor Dave a third wheel on this two wheel adventure for a bit) to relax in the city while we also sort out some visas and hit up some v tasty Georgian cuisine.
15th August 2017
We've had an absolutely amazing 2 weeks in Georgia and would seriously recommend this country as a travelling destination to anyone who has some spare time on their hands.
Georgia is a funny little country about the same size as Scotland, with a population of just under 4 million people. The food is very tasty/interesting, and varies from Kechapauri's (cheese baked into fresh bread with an egg on top, plus other variations) and dumplings, to goulashes, kebabs, and as Amelia and I accidentally found out - a gruel-like dish that Oliver Twist himself wouldn't have eaten.
Dave's and my favourite was the Kebari, freshly baked doughy-bread with spiced minced beef inside, with cheese if you're lucky.
It's not the most well-developed country, and the roads and infrastructure vary a lot depending on where you are. It's a land where farm animals roam free. It's like fields were never invented here. Pigs trot about in the south, whilst horses are more common in the north - cows are absolutely everywhere. This was funny at first, but actually incredibly dangerous, you can be coming round any corner, no matter the type of road or if you're in a town or not, and a few cows might have just set up shop right there on the tarmac.
The reason we loved Georgia so much, however, was due to its location at the foot of the Caucasus. This range includes the tallest mountains in Europe, with rivers separating huge valleys with colossal sides. It's all very dramatic, and can make you feel so small at times! What's fantastic is how accessible some of the remote areas are too. Buy a map of the local area and follow any little routes which look interesting and you'll find yourself on dirt roads leading to nowhere with no civilisation in sight.
We've now moved onto Azerbeijan which is very different. Immediately the scenery turned very arid. The people are incredibly kind, everybody waves and honks their horns at you - it can be hard to keep up with it all. At one point so many people in a town stopped to wave at us from the side of the road, it felt like a welcome party! Whilst we were on the side of the road after I had run out of petrol, two old men in a tractor pulled over and handed us two bunches of grapes and drove off. Can't imagine that sort of thing happening at home.
Baku is a rather boring and fake city, we are here for two nights preparing for a gruelling 30hr ferry across the Caspian Sea to Aktau in Kazakhstan (diaries of a migrating moose episode 1 to be filmed then - stay tuned). Sadly, due to consulates being closed, we couldn't get our Turkmenistan Visa so are having to go around it. We are also having problems getting our Chinese visas on the road which is a slightly larger problem, but we're staying positive about it all and trying different avenues!
19th August 2017
W’ve just completed a 30 hour ferry (not including a 12 hour wait on tarmac in port and 6 hours of customs at other end).
Was nice to have no commitments for a whole day so we could be as lazy as we wanted and not feel guilty about it.
We shared the boat with about 14 other European travellers and a huge host of Ukrainian and Turkish lorry drivers. We got fed 3 times and were given a cabin between for of us so a lot comfier than expected!
Found the time to edit another GoPro video, now we just need to find the wifi to upload it! Bring on Kazakhstan!