Video: Central Asia

This is what we saw in two months as we crossed Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
During leg 3 we pedaled 1392km in 62days and also used a lot of public transport; 5 sleeper trains, a cargo ferry and a minibus.

For 29 of those days we were stuck in capital cites waiting for visas, however, that did mean we got to hang out with some great people, see the sights and rest our bottoms! The cost of visas and capital city accommodation/living has meant that Central Asia has been the most expensive leg yet. Crazy huh? Hope you like the video.

Crossing the Caspian Sea

Only cargo ferries cross the Caspian Sea from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan, however, they do take passengers. There are no timetables as these ships only depart once full of cargo. The crossing can take anything from 1 to 4 days, depending on storms, space to berth at the arrival port and customs/police/army inspections.  We had heard tales of how the ticket office was impossible to find, of it’s random opening hours and the unhelpful ticket lady – thankfully all these tales were untrue! In line with the rest of the region, road signs, street names, building and shop names are all non-existent,  therefore finding anywhere requires great patience and the need to repeatedly ask for directions! Fortunately, with a lot of tips and shared information from the other cyclists we struck gold on the first attempt!

As instructed on the telephone, we arrived at the docks at 10am and located the lady who was holding our tickets. Transaction completed and back outside, we were joined by two Swiss guys – they’d also got their visas so we would have company for the voyage! We’d previously met Dominic in Tbilisi when he was attempting to get his wheel rebuilt at the velodrome workshop. Dominic and Mario are great characters who had ridden all the way from home on vintage ex-army bicycles. If our bikes are old – theirs are pre-retro, with only one speed and some seriously ropey brakes, they are definitely on a mission!

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Dominc and Mario arrive outside the ticket office –  their front ‘brake’ Continue reading

Azerbaijan to Baku

Another day – another country. Our train from Tbilisi arrived early in the morning so we reassembled the bikes and set off, attempting to orientate ourselves in the new city. We were also trying to find some breakfast! Riding in the city was not easy as the majority of the roads in the centre are one-way and 4 lanes wide. Beaten-up Ladas mix it up with expensive European cars, all united by their love of the horn! We navigated around the streets and eventually found the city centre, which has been completely rebuilt in marble, even the pavement!  This is a city made rich from oil!

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Thankfully there is no way this train would go that fast! Continue reading