Saturday, 17 May 2008

GEORGIA ON MY BIKE











No, not Georgia USA. This Georgia is the former Soviet state on the East coast of the Black Sea, and the Caucusus Mountains form the Northern border with Russia. After leaving Sinop we made good time along the North coast of Turkey, as the road was good and quite flat. The new highway follows the coast, cutting out the steep hills and cliffs with a series of tunnels and land reclaimed from the sea. However, many of the tunnels are not yet lit, making it somewhat hair-raising on a bicycle. The Turkish border police looked at our expired visa's with some concern, and explained to us how we'd sinned (as if we didn't know). In the usual Turkish fashion they were not particularly unfriendly, and we were even given a seat and tea while they calculated the extent of our punishment. We were offered a choice of a fine and 5 year ban from Turkey, or a much larger fine and only a 3 month ban. We opted for the former, holding thumbs that we would be able to enter Georgia (until recently visa's were not available at that border). There didn't seem to be any long-term camping space in no-man's land, so we were extremely relieved to be able to buy a 3 month visa there for Georgia (if only we'd had 3 months for Turkey). We found Georgia to be pretty and green (lots of rain), but the rural people are poor and seem to be struggling to recover from the Soviet era. Once again, after learning to speak a bit of Turkish, we are now in a country with a strange language (Georgian), and their alphabet makes no sense to us at all. The Georgian people are also a lot more reserved than the extroverted Turks which we'd become accustomed to. Currently we are in the capital, Tbilisi, which is a fairly large and interesting historic city on the banks of the Mtkvari river. Most of the other towns seemed a bit run down, with dilapidated disused factories and schools dating from Soviet times. In the countryside we came across many neglected monuments and parks, also from the previous era. One of the towns which we passed through was Gori, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, where he also spent his childhood (there is a large statue of Stalin on the main town square). Daily distances cycled since Sinop were:- Bafra 114 km; Terme 127 km; Bulancak 132 km; Trabzon 161 km; Pazar 122 km; Batumi (Georgia) 91 km; Samtredia 111 km; Zestaponi 81 km; Kareli 85 km; and Tbilisi 116 km.

1 comment:

Mayo en Juuls said...

Hi guys,

We're yet at the coast again. We decided that 700 km through the desert from Tabriz to Tehran wasn't the most fun we could get in Iran, so we went up to the north to meet up with the French guys with their solarbike at the Caspian Sea coast (so maybe we'll see your ferry pass by on the way).

In 3 or 4 days we have to arrive at a town on the coast above Tehran where we leave the bikes an go to Tehran for a few days to apply for our visa's for the Stan's, then of to Turkmenistan. We'll skip Mashad and go to Ashgabat directly: so maybe meet there?

Strange country, we had a bit of a wrong start: met some weird people, but yet everything is getting better although we still love Turkey more. We have to get used to the fact that they really don't respect twee girls travelling on their own.

But anyway the nice people of Iran are waiting for us, so we'll have to go.

Greetz,

Mayo and Juuls