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.
Bojormi was our next destination, a popular Georgian holiday spot due to the healing mineral water found there. We checked out the accommodation and found a hotel in at the right price. One morning we were brought wine for breakfast as apparently it was cold outside (it wasn’t), after a couple of sips the plants were given a good watering! We explored abandoned buildings and a theatre, tried the salty mineral water and rested for two nights. As we were planning to leave town (after the first night at the hotel) we stumbled across the tourist information and decided to pop in hoping to find a map. They strongly recommended a trip on the narrow gauge railway up the mountain…. there was a train leaving in 10 minutes and we could just make it if we set off immediately. The fare was less than £1 each and it took 2 hours to weave our way up the mountain. The bikes were still fully loaded with panniers but there was just enough room to jam them on top of each other in front of the carriage! The railway was electrified in 1963 but looked like it had not seen any investment since. After a picnic at the top it was downhill all the way back to Bojormi. It had just started to spit with rain and another nightly thunderstorm loomed so we headed back to the hotel where they were very surprised to see us again! Next time we take a day trip we’ll take the luggage off!
Left to Right: Winding our way up the mountain, Each of the carriages had unique paintwork.
The uninterrupted ride downhill continued over the next day and a half that it took us to within reach of Tbilisi. The added bonus of a tailwind meant we cycled our biggest distance yet – 125km. We stopped early to camp in the countryside rather than enter the suburbs at night. After setting up camp in an abandoned orchard – the owner (we assume) of the neighbouring orchard came over and gave us a whole bag full of freshly picked apricots, delicious! Continue reading →
Into Georgia and the changes were instantly visible, the scenery became greener, with trees replacing rocky landscapes and excitingly, the street cafes were now selling beer rather than tea! The prayer calls silenced and the mosques were replaced by silent Orthodox crosses which are dotted frequently across the hilltops. In Turkey, women were not normally seen on the streets – in Georgia they were back with a bang and in high fashion just to go grocery shopping! We were also happy to dispose of our last “chicken ham” when we realised that “real” ham was back on the menu. It may not be Packington Pork, but at least it’s the end of pink processed mush!
Crossing the border in the evening we called in at the first shop – a petrol station to find it only sold vodka, beer, cigarettes, crisps and chocolate! We exchanged the last of our Lira for two bottles of beer and a bar of chocolate and set off in search for a place to camp.
Left to right: At the border after an epic day, Our first Georgian petrol station!
Continue reading →