For us Georgia was one of the countries that really surprised us. We didn`t really know much about it, so we had no expectations or prejudices when we entered from Turkey in Sarpi. Coming from Turkey in the late afternoon the first thing we saw were glittering casinos instead of Mosques. Everything was written in kartuli anbani, the Georgian alphabet. We were glad that there were also Latin words beside it. On the border we met Raif, a nice and helpful guy driving a Yamaha Teneré on his way to Tajikistan. He helped us with translating while buying an insurance for the bikes. After saying goodbye, we went on to Batumi, a beautiful city on the Black Sea. As we drove along the coast the view was amazing. The city was bathed in the warm afternoon light and the sea was glittering from orange to pink in the colors of the sunset. We decided to take a break and enjoy the breathtaking scenery as well as taking a few pictures. The owner of a nice restaurant on the seaside allowed us to use his terrace to take some pictures. We went on north out of Batumi to find an idyllic camping site called Robi directly at the sea where we pitched our tent in the last light of the day for the amazing price of 10 GEL per night for both of us. We spent the next day swimming, relaxing in the shadows and using the Wi-Fi. The other guests were a family from Belarus and some Russian people as well as two cute dogs that didn`t really belong to anyone but felt at home at the campsite. They were looking for human closeness and nearly attacked Peter until he started stroking them. Good thing that we were vaccinated against every possible disease.
After the second night we left in search of Katskhi pillar, a natural limestone monolith located in the western Georgian region of Imereti. We drove through nice curvy mountainous roads and stopped at a small shop for a break. The owner, a helpful lady didn`t speak any English but wanted to boil us some water immediately as we bought some frozen dumplings filled with meat called Khinkali. We met Katskhi pillar during sunset and went uphill with the motorcycle. Unfortunately, it`s not possible to enter the ruins of the church on top, but we had a fantastic view of the fascinating rock. The sight of the illuminated church on top is even more amazing during the night. We pitched our tent nearby and had an awesome view of the scene. As we lay in the tent we heard some party going on in the distance and thought that people around the world aren`t that different.
The next day we tried out our stove the first time to cook the Khinkali we bought and liked it very much. Happy from the good food we went on to Ninozminda to cross to Armenia. We went through mountainious regions as it suddenly started raining and hailing so hard that we stopped and tried to find a dry place. We were grateful as a farmer let us stay in his garage for some time. After about half an hour the rain stopped, and we continued to the south. The street got worse every kilometer we went. Cows, horses and sheep were standing in the middle of the road and we had to do some animal slalom to prevent a collision. The last kilometer before the Armenian border were an unpaved road and we were happy as we reached the border. The Armenian border was one of the toughest borders to pass for us until now. Every bag was opened and unpacked. Getting into Armenia on the road should be well planned because it is only possible to enter from Georgia. The borders from Turkey or Azerbaijan are closed.
Once inside the country it was already dark so we didn’t really see much of it on our way to Yerevan while driving on badly paved roads. Late in the night we arrived at a nice small hostel where we fell asleep immediately.
The city center of Yerevan turned out to be very nice with beautiful buildings and a great atmosphere with people playing music or dancing on the streets. Nevertheless we could see that outside the city center people lived under very simple conditions.
On our way back to Georgia we came by lake Sevan, where the monastery Sevanavank was located. The scenery was amazing as we were riding across mountainous regions.
At the petrol station the attendant invited us for tea in his building and told us about his hard working situation. To support his family he had two jobs and no free time at all. Nevertheless he was a happy man being proud of his own house and his children being able to live abroad.
The border crossing to Georgia was easy and after about fifteen minutes we could enter Georgia again.
The road on this side of the country was much better so we reached Tbilisi in a short time. Through couchsurfing a German guy living in Tbilisi invited us to stay at his place. He showed us the city and a nice pub as well as a traditional local food restaurant where we tried a Georgian bean dish called Lobio that tasted delicious. We only stayed two nights in Tbilisi and would have stayed more if we didn`t have other places to go. The two days in Tbilisi went by so fast in the relaxing and peaceful atmosphere of the city. As we went towards Azerbaijan and stopped to buy some bread a family invited us to have dinner with them. Although we couldn`t understand each other as we didn`t speak any Georgian language or Russian we really enjoyed the company and the good Georgian food. Georgia really surprised us with its friendly people. We`ll definitely come back some day.
Standing at the border to Azerbaijan we were curious about visiting the next country. But first we had to answer some questions about our visit to Armenia. They didn’t like the stamp in our passport at all. While Peter explained that we were just harmless tourists visiting many countries Claudia was offered some food. Border crossings are always unpredictable. You never know if they will question you endlessly or offer you some food or even both at the same time.
The first night in Azerbaijan we pitched our tent somewhere in the fields enjoying a beautiful sunset. The straight road to Baku was quite good so we reached the city within a few hours ride seeing many very old Ladas.
In Baku we slept in Freedom Hostel, a clean and friendly place located in an old historical Baku Apartment from the 19th century. Instead of the planned two days we stayed a whole week because we enjoyed the city so much. The colorful luminous flame towers, the interesting building of Heydər Əliyev Merkezi, the beautiful park on the seafront as well as many cozy cafes let us enjoy the city. We even visited the 100-year celebration of the Republic of Azerbaijan. A huge crowd of people were watching the military parade enthusiastically.
The days flew by and after a week we left Baku towards Iran.