Thursday, May 24th 2018, we arrived in Tbilisi, the capital of the country, where we stayed almost a week. A vibrant, charming and amazing city. The city is a unique architectural blend combining Byzantine, Persian, European and Russian inspirations.
We enjoyed walking in the cobbled streets of the old town, admiring the old houses with carved wooden balconies, the fortress of Narikala and the many churches dating from the 6th to the 13th centuries. The city also has baths of sulfur, springs of natural hot water, considered a remedy against many diseases (but we did not go, a little too expensive for us!). Saturday, May 26th, we were here for the great national holiday celebrating 100 years of Georgia’s independence from the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, marking the end of Russian domination which lasted 117 years since 1801.
At this point of the trip we no longer count the number of times Arthur has broken one, two or three spokes on his wheel. Once in Tbilisi, we decided to change all spokes by thicker and more resistant spokes. We’ll see, and as we say, Inch’allah it’ll hold. Goodbye and thank you Tbilisi. Hello, Kakheti.
But Georgia is also and especially the country of wine. Recognized as the “cradle of wine growing” by UNESCO, the country has a rich and atypical vineyard. Wine plays a central role in the daily lives of the inhabitants and many Georgians produce their own homemade wine according to the traditional method of storing wine in large earthenware jars buried in the ground.
Our road thus continued through the vineyards of the Kakheti region in the southeast part of the country. We first had to climb the Gombori pass at 1620m of altitude. When we arrived at the summit, we were greeted by the applause of a tourists’ group from South of France, very admiring of our effort and our journey. This hard climb up done, we went down into the valley.
We have cycled through the fields admiring both the vineyards and the numerous monasteries including the monastery of Ikalto and Alaverdi, founded in the 6th Century, the Citadel and Church of Gremi, as well as the perched monastery of Nekressi which offers a splendid view of the Alazani Valley.
Saturday, June 2, 2018, it rained all night and facing Lake Ilia where we had set our tent, a young Dutch couple travelling in their camper came to offer us coffee. They probably took pity on us, sheltered under the external roof of a restaurant trying to dry our tent. That coffee warmed our day, and we were happy to talk with other travelers.
We hit the road during a thinning, but we were quickly caught up by a heavy rain that didn’t stop for the rest of the day. So we decided to hitchhike and after three vans and a little wait, we arrived to the town of Lagodekhi near the border with Azerbaijan. We spent the night in a guesthouse (€10 the room) and the next morning it’s full of beautiful memories that we were able to cross the border dry and rested. On our way to new adventures, towards Azerbaijan!
See you soon!