Distance: 319/620 km
Daily Average: 64/61 km
Days in: 5/10
Days on the Bike: 3/10
Altitude covered: 2086/10997 m
Daily Average: 695/1098 m
Nights in the Tent: 1/8
Nights in Houses: 3/2
Breakdowns: broken Pedal, 2 broken Spokes 1 flat Tyre
Daily Average: 12,16/9,73 €
Wellcome to the Caucasus!
As i nicely rolled down into Georgia and the Spring the first thing popped into my sight was a former german Plumber-Van with the following Text on: „we remove your shit!“… i had to smile and thought: here we go!
after i arrived in the first Village i really enjoyed the Spring-Sun and took my Breakfast in Front of the old beautiful Church. After Turkey it is like a culture-shock, entering this christian, for me seems to be total european Country…
The Car-Mechanic gave me a Lesson how to spell Georgian words (they have also the Armenians a own totally different Script) and afterwards i rode slowly to Akhaltsikhe the first Town in the Country. before i arrived there i had to drink a beer with some guys on the side of the Road. It was my first one since Van and it tastes fantastic…
Akhaltshike is topped of a freshly renovated Castle and has nothing else to show except of its sovjetic Charme. The whole Country los like there is nothing happened the last 25 Years. Except the masses of european Cars (all in very bad condition) hopping over the Roads it looks like the Russians were just gone yesterday. A nice foreground for the amazing Nature in the Background.
After the last weeks i decided to ride the Easy-Way through the Country. I followed the Kura to Tbilisi. After 40km the Ride ends cause of a young Georgien women perfectly speaking german invites me to take a rest with her family. Great someone who understands you! and followed her very curious. We got to the Construction Site of their new house and the whole family welcomes me and invited me for food and drinking. Every few Minutes they serve the selfmade „Chacha“ the local Vodka and there is always a thing you can drink on… It was clear for me that this is not a break, this is the end of the Day on the Bike… so i enjoyed it. The simple traditional Meals tasted very good and the wholehearted people (with the translation-Help of Shorena) need to be loved!
We moved to the Core of the Village were the actual House of the Family is located and there the time was like 100 Years before… Nature Roads connect the Houses, a ancient Churchruin stands in the center and an old castle tops it. We visited first the House of the Friend of the Family and later the House of Shorena and her family. More originally is not possible. Everything is Handmade: the Marmalade, the Cheese, Wine and the Vodka… they live in a fantastic Area like paradise. i get spontaneously jealous. They don´t have much, but they like to share it… Shorena gave me a clear Yes to my Question „Are you happy with this life?“ She use to work as a Nanny in Germany and Austria for 2 Years so she knows our World.
The Night i slept at the Construction-Site and after a good Breakfast and 2 glasses of Chacha (and a bottle of it in my Backpack) i cycled on deeply impressed.
I followed the Valley of Kura along Bordomi, a Spatown with Sovjet-Charme and far after his golden Years, down to Gori. Short before the City on the Left Side the Mountain Range of the Big Caucasus appeared. Impressing, partly more than 5000m high, Peaks looked down on me. In Gori Stalin was born, they want to do some touristic stuff on this but i could not find anything. The City has a lot of Plattenbauten and a nice renovated Oldtown. It is topped by a big fortress.
Until here i followed, lacking an alternative, the Mainroad. After the City there were some little roads winding through the villages. Short before Tbilisi, near Mtshketa i hit the Mainroad again that was grown to be a City-highway and followed it into Tbilisi. The City is build along the narrow Kura-Valley and so after 20km i reached the center and found a nice Hostel.
Taking a Break was one of the points on my list. I have to organize a new pump for my Bike (forgot my somewhere in Turkey) and wanted to do some Sightseeing. I started with that. The ramshackle Charme that you can find in the whole Country is also shown here. But there are a lot of Renovations going on. Its very nice to strawl through the alleys and the more you get away from the River the more you get the Charme of the Oldtown. There is a Spa-Area on the edge of the old town that was shortly newly renovated. It gave the City its name (Tbilisi means hot water) and a castle on top offers great views. A Ropeway leads up to the Castle just for touristic reasons. In the old times there were a lot of ropeways connecting the upper parts with the River but they all have to be closed down cause of security reasons…
On the second Day i cycled to the Bakeshop and to the new Cathedral of Tbilisi. The Building was totally funded by a georgian Billionaire and is still under construction. What you can see is very be beautiful and by the way the church will be one of the biggest orthodox churches in the World.
At a point it was enough and i left the city towards the Border to Armenia. The Road was not to Hilly so i could get warm on the Bike.
The Bordercrossing was totally easy, Pass out, Stamp in and welcome to Armenia (or Barheev as they say here)
The Border of the Countries is a River and i followed this River for 2 Days. The Debed cuts deep into the Landscape and i cycled through his gorge. The Ramshackle Charme of Georgia continues but even more crumbly. The Number of western Cars goes down near zero and the Trucks are totally from Russian Factories. Like me they also have to fight uphill and the Exhaust was a Problem i had to get used to…
Until the Industrialtown of Alaverdi i followed the River and climbed up to the Edge to visit the Monastery of Sanahin. Equipped with an UNESCO-Sticker it should show a good sample of armenian Architecture thousand years ago. When i reached the Monastery it was almost dark and i reached a roof before it started raining. I asked and get the permission to sleep in the Garden infant of the Monastery, perfect!
The next morning i got the time to take a deep look around before tourists came. Arthur, a guy who sells Souvenirs invited me for a coffee. This went quickly to be a communal drink with breakfast and the best: He completed my little Armenian vocabulary! That worths 4 Vodkas in the Morning…
Later in the Day i met Olli from Düsseldorf and we cycled together the rest of the Day. We split cause he stayed in Vanadzor and i went on for a few kilometers to put up my tent.
On this Day the Road shows me what will be in front of me in the next time: Mountains
I rode the whole day out of the Gorge uphill to Vanadzor. The Next Day after a descent to Dilijan it went up to Sewan-Lake on nice Hairpinned Passroad. On top i got a nice view toward Lake Sewan. I pitched my tent at the Lakeshore in the Evening.
I followed the Shore towards Selim-Pass. The Evening before i reached it my right Pedal broke. A Knarz-Sound, a short blocking and Knack the Pedal broke… I didn´t have a replacement with me. I was to tired and pissed off to think about this, so i pitched my tent at the side of the Road. The next morning i realized that it is possible (more or less) to use the Pedal-shaft to pedal.
After the Pass i enjoyed the View and the 30km long descent down into the Valley of the Arpa-River. I followed him. I bought a pair of Pedals in Ehghegandzor and headed towards the next Mountain. Vorotan-Pass challenged me. Steep, long and rainy… perfect conditions! As i reached the Top i drunk a little bit of my georgian Gift and afterwards enjoyed the descent.
The Pedal starts going up in smoke and so i decided to buy a second pair in the next City. After a 30km Ride through Fog i reached Goris and decided to take a Room with hot shower for the Night. Very Nice!
The next Obstacle on this Journey is not going up, it´s going down… The Vorotan-Gorge.
After i crossed the Pass, cycled along the Lake with the same name i had to cross the River now. Vorotan cuts through whole south armenia in a gorge and there is not a question if, just where to to cross it.
Near Tatev they builded a Ropeway a few years ago. It connects the northern „Shore“ with the Monastery Tatev on southern Shore. That will save me from the Gorge i thought and asked… But no chance, they will not take me on Board. So i have to go through it. Hours later i was standing infant of the Monastery enjoying a beer… After Sightseeing i was able to go on for a little bit.
The next Day i had to cross a 2000m Pass before i could descent to Kapan on 700m… The Road leads me through totally rural Territory and i enjoyed the Day. But there was a rough Climb after Kapan up to Nature Reserve of Shikahogh. I sleptt the next night near the Border to Ngorni-Karabach were still landmines can be found. So it was not so easy to find a place for my tent…
Next Day it was Pass-Day again. I had to cross a last 2200m hight Pass to get to Meghri and to the Iranian Border. Another hard day for the Body. I had some Problems to motivate myself and it took a lot f time to get to the Top. Up on the Top the View worths every cycle rotation! And then i got a descent of 1600m of Altitude and 30km Distance… fantastic!
Down in the Valley, temperature was over 30 Degrees there i followed the Borderfence and River to Meghri.
After two weeks in this two countries i am excited about the Landscape but first of all about the People. Far away of the Touristic Trails you can meet them and share a time with them. Next to this there is a fantastic Nature that takes your breath sometimes when you cycle up a hill again…
A Recommendation, visit this Area, it worths a visit!
Now i will enter Iran, but this is another story