Turkey and Georgia are very different
Updated: May 29, 2022
On the way on Thursday, May 12 in Turkey, we came across several brick and tile factories. Here bricks and tiles are still made in the traditional way using a ring oven. This is like going 50 years back in time or visiting an outdoor museum.
When we see an entrepreneur with a tea cart along the road, we can't help but stop there. Normally everyone gives you the tea for free, but he knows how to make a living out of it. Chapeau! The tea water is heated with wood until it is hot enough to pour it into a tea pot and then the tea pot is kept warm by the same wood fire.
By lunchtime we had stopped at a somewhat fancier joint near a gas station. They asked if we wanted to eat and within a minute there was a hot meal in front of us. Cola Zero was also provided. When we wanted to pay, we were told that we did not have to pay because this was distributed for free in honor of a deceased person. Perhaps a commemoration or something. As we drove away, they even wanted to give us a bag of sandwiches and fruit.
In the afternoon we enjoyed the many views in Turkey. What beautiful views of these high plains, you can't get enough of them. All in all, Turkey and its beautiful nature came across very positively to us. It's a pity they can't drive, otherwise it would have been even more beautiful. At the end of the day we settled down at a hotel in Kangal, a village at altitude where it cools down considerably in the evening.
Friday the 13th. Arrested again, also a motorcycle with trailer and router on it.
The controls are apparently there because they are afraid of attacks by the Kurds.
At the end of the day we arrived in Kelkit and booked a 3-star hotel, Grand Teras. Looks good and is quite luxurious,
Late in the afternoon we walked around the city and found a pub with beer. Got talking to a Turk who regularly works in London and got a lot of information from him that we still had questions about. On his advice and together with him we went to eat at the restaurant of a friend of his. Nice dinner and instead of us paying everything, he wanted to know nothing and paid everything. Afterwards with coffee and tea idem.
Saturday, May 14, along the road we had a cup of coffee / coke and came across a dressed-up man on a motorcycle that we had already overtaken on the way. He was dressed up because of the homage of Trabzonspor which takes place tonight. We had a chat with him and another man with a truck loaded with drinks. He pointed us to a road through the mountains that should be nicer (via Sumela). This appears to be a dead end road after 20 km, which leads to the Sumela monastery built against a rock face. We decided to have a look at it once we got there. There we meet a group of Brabanders from Geldrop. The road up and down to Sumela is beautifully curved and well paved, perhaps the last of such a beautiful road in the coming time?
In Trabzon we first drove to the stadium to take some pictures and look around. Here is the homage of Trabzonspor who became champion of Turkey. In the evening we took a cab to the city center (Meydan) to see the ceremony on the square. This took so long that we decided to go to a pub. The pubs are usually on the 1st or 2nd floor, probably because they don't like to see someone drinking alcohol.
From Trabzon on Sunday, May 15, we drove along the coast to Georgia. At the border it didn't take that long, but Rob's bike had to go through XRAY. Of course nothing was found, meanwhile Martin could discuss with some customs officers who could speak English very well what we should see in Georgia. This was besides Tblisi and Batoemi also Koutaisi, but we won't get through that place (we thought at the time).
Batoemi is like a Spanish costa but of Georgia, very touristy, more expensive and more tourists. If you see how many gigantic (American) hotels/apartment complexes they are still building, it is a lot. Apparently, this city has a huge tourist appeal and they want to put that to good use. They have an old and a new boulevard that together are several kilometers long and we have therefore hurriedly walked them. The new boulevard has new prices, but if you walk into town on the old boulevard you get to the old town and the bars there are much nicer. Eaten at a grill tent, both had a super hamburger where you get no cutlery, but black latex gloves to consume this decadent meal. The wine with the meal was amber in color and the taste was a bit between cognac, grand marnier and white wine. Not really tasty for us.
At the end, the battery of our hotspot was dead, so we had a chacha cocktail to get back on track via WiFi.
We slept at hotel Light House. Great hotel at good price with a nice breakfast in the morning. We think we were the only guests, the bikes could be parked on the terrace of the hotel at the back.
We left Batumi this Monday morning , May 16, to drive all the way north into the Caucasus Mountains. The first 100 km were straight road with many trucks. When we left the city we made good progress, but not much else. When the mountains started we stopped at a lake to take some pictures. At that lake we met a Georgian guide with a Swiss customer who were making a week-long motor trip through Georgia. We got many tips from the guide and also heard that we can not complete the route through the Caucasus because the high pass is still closed. It is definitely worthwhile to go to Mestia, they both said. This is about 100 km uphill which we then have to descend again. Immediately the guide advised a hotel and called the hotel for us: Hotel Mountain Mestia.
The road to Mestia is much worse with potholes and sometimes sections that are unpaved, but the views and scenery are really beautiful. From the bike you have a view on the snowy peaks of the Caucasus of which the tops reach up to 5,600 meters.
In Mestia we had to search for the hotel, eventually the hotel manager picked us up by motorcycle in the village. Gocha Tavdishvili (https://georgiamototours.wixsite.com/my-site) is an avid motorcyclist and was part of the KTM enduro factory team in Georgia. He told us that Ushguli is really worth seeing tomorrow, it is an old village and the highest inhabited village in Europe at 2,200 meters. The first 30 km are still paved, then about 7 km unpaved road. Challenging route with beautiful views and a nice village to visit. Then another 150 km driving back on the same roads as today via Mestia.
Later in the afternoon we adjusted the route to go back to the west and then with a turn to Koetaisi. On the way there is a gorge to visit and also caves. Since all of that is touristy, there are plenty of hotels there in case we don't make it to Koetaisi in one day.
The guide's tip is to buy tires in Tiblisi and take them to Iran to have them mounted there. The question is whether they have the right tires in Iran, because the maximum engine capacity of motorcycles there is set by law at 250cc.
In the evening we had dinner at Layla, a restaurant that was recommended to us by the hotel manager. There were many foreigners, most of them seemed to be hikers who were eating there together with their guide.
After dinner we went back to the hotel and sat by the fireplace with a glass of wine to chat with Gocha.
Tuesday, May 17 we had a very extensive breakfast, what was on the table was enough for 5 people. Gocha joined us again for a chat and wanted to take pictures of the motorcycles, which he could also use for his own promotion.
Today we first drove to Ishguli, the highest inhabited village in Europe. 30 km asphalt and then some 10 km unpaved, but doable. At one place we had to throw the stones aside to make it easier to pass with the bike, for the cars it was blocked by the stones that had come down.
Upstairs we visited the old village of Ishguli and drove through it. There were still some people waiting there with their cars and because they could not get through, they were already drinking beer. Our comment that the five of them could move the stones was not responded to, they are not really working here.
Back in Mestia we refueled and drove the same way down as we came the day before. Road with nice views, but also holes in the road and stretches without road surface. This was still over 100 km until we were back in the lowlands. There we also met the 3 Czechs on the motorcycle again, we had seen them for several days. Short chat, they were on a 3 week motorcycle vacation and will finish in Baku at the end of this week after the second week. After that they still have a small week to ride the 4,000 km back to the Czech Republic.
Along the inner roads, the houses are all on the road with a ditch in between and an old rusty fence or wall. Pigs and cows walk on the street, so it is important to watch out.
We drove along the Caucasus to Koetaisi, the old capital of Georgia. We did not have much time to see the city. We did drill a hole in Rob's tank (borrowing a battery drill), so that the ventilation works better. This modification was already present on Martin's bike.
Looked up the restaurant Tiflisi via Tripadvisor and ate there. This is located in the middle of the old town. Good food, noticing that you get the starter and main course at the same time as soon as it's ready.
Had another beer in the evening at a basement pub by the river and then walked back to the hotel. In the street of the hotel we passed Hof Brauhaus München and couldn't resist having a drink there. Very large place and indeed typical German. Tomorrow we continue to Tblisi.
Left Koetaisi on Wednesday, May 18. Quick enough the bikes and our motorcycle pants and boots/shoes went through the laundromat. It didn't look like much anymore. Immediately topped up oil at Rob's place, so the can is empty.
A bit after Koetaisi we drove a nice route to the north and hilly. The last 50 km before the highway with nice asphalt where the speed could go up.
In Sachkhere everything was black from the manganese extraction. Even the river was completely brown from that point on. Several cable cars were built with bins to transport manganese down to the river.
Last 100 km to Tblisi highway, and immediately mapped out route to Motobeat to score new tires. Martin had a flat tyre and managed to get to the motorcycle store. Fortunately, they were able to patch them. What a blessing in disguise!
Unfortunately they had no tires for us, but they did score new engine oil and chain spray. For the motorcycle tires we were referred to Bikeland, about 6 km away. There they had front tires that we bought, rear tires we will look for tomorrow in the city.
Only around half past 7 we arrived at the hotel. We changed clothes and had dinner across the river in the tourist area. Then scored a beer in a karaoke bar and on time to our nest. Tomorrow we will score rear tires and straps to tie the tires on the back.