A steady start in the countryside where they seemed to be more animals on the road than cars or humans. We stopped a couple of times to sample more of the bakes goods of Georgia. Then some tough sharp climbs with some of the steepest gradients we’ve had this trip to wake to quads up then a short fast descent before hitting the main road again.
At one town we took a break right outside a bakers where they were using a deep clay oven to back the traditional delicious breads and let us in for a look.
Anyone following the tracker may have noticed we made an executive decision to try the main road up and over a high pass today instead of the more minor road Laura had plotted. The road suralfaces were variable enough already and the original showed off road sections that would likely be “challenging” on a fully ladened tandem.
The climb was tough enough and the road was full of trucks and pollution. There is a massive job building whole new road where the construction went on for miles and miles but in the meantime the old road surface was poor and everybody was on the same road as us. Reaching the top there was a surprise tunnel but it was well light and quiet enough enough blasted through and finally got a bit of descent before getting into Khashuri quite late on.
We rolled into a guesthouse up a back alley just as it was getting dark and we’re delighted to be greeted by a lovely friendly host and shown to a rather opulent room. Everything seems to stay open late in Georgia so we still had time to get to a local restaurant for dinner. There was a birthparty with a rather exuberant karaoke set on, which.left us feeling completely out of place. There was no English menu but we managed via Google translate to order a traditional Georgian chicken dish which was very creamy and garlic but not quite as much meat as we would have liked. We finally got to bed quite late but with the carrot of Tbilisi in our sights!
We had a great breakfast in the guesthouse rounded off by the hostess giving us crepes to eat on the road and having a photo with us. We got on the bike determined to get through the final distance to Tbilisi in good time. We were soon on quieter back roads bit apart from some dubious road surface in places it was a beautiful road. We made an emergency stop for more Georgian baked good before pushing on through the last few miles.
The road then merged onto the highway and we were suddenly in the this of Tbilisi rush hour. We wended our way through the traffic to the hotel and are looking forward to putting our feet up for a few days before our flight.
The hotel didn’t quite have a faulty towers feel but our first disappointment was that the restaurant was closed/non-existent and the “bar” had no beer, just local Georgian wine (and only white…if you can call that colour white…)
But the wine was free, courtesy of quirky manager David and we soon found the restaurant next door for kebabs and dumplings.
We treated ourselves to a lie in beyond 6am in the hotel and definitely felt better for it.
But there was no more time to put our feet up and we started the search for bike boxes, packaging, tape and a means for me to reroute on a computer. I’ve been using ride with GPS with does have a mobile app but too fiddle to route the over 3000 miles we needed.
The hotel was helpful to some extent and happy to let us bring boxes back and store them but the computer situation was a bit beyond them. It’s a few decades too late for Internet cafes and the only one we found by googling did not look like a place I wanted spend several hours… the next plan was computer/electronic shops to see if anyone would hire us one. The first shop we had to be buzzed in then tentatively knocked on a dingy door a few flights I stairs up. It opened to a rather smart shop but once it was clear we weren’t buying they were keen to get rid if us. The next place spoke no English and also couldn’t help and we wracked our brains and asked a contact we had from Tbilisi but to no avail.
We changed tack and went to the bike shop instead to find they were fresh out of new boxes and we had to investigate their dark damp garage to pick the best of a bad bunch. But we were grateful to have them sorted and returned triumphantly to the hotel.
And so we persisted with the laptop saga and having the door not even opened when we went back to the first shop with the intention of buying one and reselling it a few days later we had a brainwave when we came across a pawnbrokers and we’re able to secure a deal to buy a second hand laptop and resell it a day or so later relatively cheaply.
And so Laura started rerouting, only to get dragged away by Stevie for dinner hours later and a meat kebab platter and some more fine Georgian wine.
We had a early start, but for a good reason: massages! These along with massive jacuzzi bath managed to sort out most of our aches and pain and Laura even squeezed in a bit of yoga too. But then it was back to the grind to get the route finished and go tape shopping before anymore fun could be had.
A successful mission re-pawning the laptop and finding a hardware store for the tape and we made what was left of the test of the evening by visiting Turtle Lake on the cable car.
We had a lovely dinner overlooking the lake with a Ajaruli khakapuri (pizza egg boat as Laura likes to call them) before Laura headed back down on the cable car and Stevie took the longest zip line in Europe! No prizes for guessing who was first time the bottom!
With still a whole day left before pur rescheduled flight we had not choice but to celebrate our wedding anniversary and Laura’s Birthday!
Finally able to take a break we did a bit of sightseeing around Tbilisi. We wandered the old town and climbed the 144 (and the rest steps) up to the fortress and Mother of Georgia statue.
The old town is beautiful and the views over the city were amazing.
We fuelled up on a plate full of Khinikali dumplings before wandering some morebacross the Freedom bridge and Rustaveli Street before having gained enough of an appetite for dinner if wood fired pizza: Laura’s favourite!
We got up even earlier than a ride day to get to the airport 14 miles away ahead of the bike boxes that were being dropped by taxi. One last token chase by Georgian Street dogs (they’re not a scary as some of the Turkish ones) and we were there before 8am. Feeling nervous we went straight to dissembling the bike as not only did the couplings need to very split but the back brake detached, the gears disconnected, both saddles off, stoker bars off, captain bars rotated, both front and back racks off, pedals off and tyres deflated.
The whole process “only” took 3hours so we had plenty of time to wait nervously to check I and make sure the boxes were accepted. After more hoops to jump through of paperwork and fees we finally waved them goodbye and had everything crossed to see them at the other end.
The first flight was not the most comfortable and we didn’t manage to sleep but did get a curry! Arriving at Abu Dhabi without enough time to get a hotel we dozed in the recliner seats in the incredibly bustling airport for a hour before the gate opened. and we took off just before midnight.
I’m not sure where day 28 ended and day 29 began to be honest! After a more comfortable but all to short flight (and more curry!) we landed in Ahmedabad at 4:15am and somehow manged to negotiate visas, covid certificates and immigration the make it to baggage reclaim. A bit of a kerfuffle trying to figure out oversized baggage and as if by magic the boxes appeared!! Safe and sound!!
Landing in India was about the culture shock we expected and feeling dazed and exhausted we rebuilt the bike in the airport carpark to a small audience before braving the chaos of motorcycles, tuktuks, cars, bicycles and cows on the road. The heat rose quickly despite our early start and we took a while to find our feet in terms of shops and where to eat having our first curry in India for lunch about 50 miles downnthe Road.
But the people are so friendly and beautiful! Everyone on motorbikes/scooters and tuktuks smiles and waves and they often pull over to ask where we are from and going. Thre are usually two people and the ladies sit side saddle on the back with beautiful saris billowing, usually on their phones (assumably Instagram!) Lots of people drive by making visors too or taking selfies and we get requests to pull over for a selfie but are learning to ignore these. The exception was one lovely bloke who spoke fluent English on his way to an anniversary night out with his wife. They were both so welcoming and pleased to meet us.
We made it to the hotel we’d precooked relatively early but completely exhausted. More curry for dinner then off to bed!
Punctures: ZERO 🥳
Currys: 3 Pizza: 2