In the Caucasus

cover image for In the Caucasus

Senaki, headed on M1 to Tbilisi. Nice weather and good road. (2004-07-21 12:45 - Bergie)

Gori, 96km to Tbilisi. Nice mountain roads. Every time I stop the bike gathers a huge audience. (2004-07-21 15:53 - Bergie)

Tbilisi, odometer at 60474km. Giving interview to Georgian national television. (2004-07-21 16:45 - Bergie)

After the TV interviews the Camelot MC members escorted me in a convoy to a bike store where the owner presented me riding gloves. (2004-07-21 19:25 - Bergie)

We're having a traditional dinner outside by the river in restaurant Nikala in Old Tbilisi. (2004-07-21 20:45 - Bergie)

Beers on Turtle lake beach. I was invited to a religious night festival with trappist beer on a mountain top monastery during the weekend. (2004-07-21 22:11 - Bergie)

Just for the record, the two TV interviews I gave will be shown tomorrow between 8:30 and 10 in morning programs of Rustavi 2 and Georgia 1. (2004-07-21 23:11 - Bergie)

Both of the interviews looked quite good, especially the riding shots. Everything was dubbed to Georgian so I have no idea what was being said. (2004-07-22 09:15 - Bergie)

It rains in biblical scale, flooding the hilly streets. Tbilisi metro is an experience, as everything is written only in Georgian alphabet. (2004-07-22 10:55 - Bergie)

The Polish backpackers, Ania and Nata managed to get to Tbilisi. We're holding rain in a cafe and comparing sightseeing plans. (2004-07-22 14:19 - Bergie)

The flood has barricaded us to Tbilisi city museum. We're debating whether to wade or stay here. Nice 19th century item collection. (2004-07-22 15:29 - Bergie)

Finally sunshine! Driving with the group to Mtshketa, the ancient capital. All traffic cops in Georgia have been fired because of reforms. (2004-07-22 18:15 - Bergie)

Last night we visited the Djvari 6th century hilltop monastery and had another Georgian dinner on the river. Today we'll go to the countryside. (2004-07-23 10:01 - Bergie)

After a bit of touring in Old Tbilisi we're going to sauna in the old 19th century sulphuric health baths. (2004-07-23 11:57 - Bergie)

After sauna we climbed to the Narikala castle. Now a light lunch and I'll go pack the bike and check out from hotel Victoria. (2004-07-23 14:43 - Bergie)

Visiting the Internet Access and Training Program (IATP) offices where Taya works. Then we'll start the ride to Shilda, a small village in east Georgia. The plan is to spend the weekend there and see some ordinary Georgian life.

We're spending weekend in a mountain village near Kvareli, and there might be no cell phone coverage. Girls are taking turns riding pillion. (2004-07-23 19:11 - Bergie)

The house is in absolutely beautiful place. I'll sleep on balcony under the stars with view to the blue peaks of Caucasus. (2004-07-23 21:15 - Bergie)

The Milky Way and swooping satellites shine above Caucasus as we barbeque sausages filled with goat cheese and taste the local natural wines. (2004-07-23 21:55 - Bergie)

A long, hot climb got me up to the 8th century hilltop monastery of Nekresi. Tried enduroing up but the street tyres kept slipping. (2004-07-24 12:03 - Bergie)

Picnic lunch of bread, cheese and churchkhelas at a mountain spring. On the other side of the Caucasus ridge, few kilometers away is Dagestan. (2004-07-24 13:41 - Bergie)

We're exploring the 15th century Gremi palace on the old Asia-Europe trade route. In the process we've scared quite a few bats. (2004-07-24 15:57 - Bergie)

As night settles on Caucasus we again marvel the Georgian hospitality while preparing shashlik. Ania and Nata are learning how to milk cows. (2004-07-24 20:29 - Bergie)

We were taken to the neighbor's wine cellar where they produce it with traditional methods. White wine was really good with some fresh cheese. (2004-07-25 10:01 - Bergie)

On a hill walk with the villagers we were shown the memorial spring of poet Vazha Pshavela and the old smugglers' mountain route from Dagestan. (2004-07-25 13:29 - Bergie)

Taya's father, Valeri fixed the hanging rear right indicator and we're thinking of how to enforce and fix the license plate that's shaking apart (2004-07-25 15:27 - Bergie)

The villagers gave us several bottles of local wine and chacha, the Georgian moonshine as farewell gifts. I also got a book about the region. (2004-07-25 17:17 - Bergie)

The ride to Tbilisi was first scenic with setting sun drawing silhuettes of mountains and castles, and then a dark, wet and potholed nightmare. (2004-07-25 21:33 - Bergie)

We're now meeting seven Polish bikers on their way to Armenia together with Camelot MC. Table is filled with vodka shots and I have to ride back (2004-07-25 21:35 - Bergie)

Today we're headed to Kazbeki on the old Georgian military highway carved to the mountains. I'm on the bike and girls will take a marshrutka. (2004-07-26 07:51 - Bergie)

Castle Ananuri. I'm taking photos while girls discuss who gets to ride pillion next. Very beautiful, twisty mountain road. (2004-07-26 09:33 - Bergie)

Kazbeki, odometer at 61036km. The mountain scenery was awesome but the road terrible. Lost my rear brake for a while in the bumps. (2004-07-26 11:49 - Bergie)

We're having a light lunch on the hillside before trying to proceed to the Sameba church on the top. Thunderstorm is coming. (2004-07-26 14:15 - Bergie)

Flooded path and heavy hail forced us to turn back just before the summit. Now we're treading between the streams back down to the village. (2004-07-26 14:49 - Bergie)

The mountain road back had collapsed in rain and I got stuck. A friendly driver helped me to push the bike out in knee-deep mud. (2004-07-26 18:21 - Bergie)

There were problems with the driver the girls had hired. He kept trying to get extra money out of everything and drove away when I got stuck. (2004-07-26 19:37 - Bergie)

Now back in Tbilisi. The stoyanka keeper wasn't satisfied until I shared my story and his vodka. Now we're preparing for a farewell dinner. (2004-07-26 19:43 - Bergie)

Farewell dinner in Valeri's home with long Georgian toasts, including one for the people waiting at home. (2004-07-26 23:15 - Bergie)

Last night's party got quite rowdy and emotional. Now we'll go to Taya's office to upload pictures and then I'll start heading west. (2004-07-27 08:37 - Bergie)

Cured hangover at lunch with Nata, Taya and Guram, and riding out from Tbilisi. It is late so I will miss the cave city this time. (2004-07-27 15:47 - Bergie)

Khasuri, 130km from Tbilisi. Turned southwest to M8 to Batumi. Stopping to apply sun lotion. (2004-07-27 17:17 - Bergie)

Gas break in Akhaltsikhe in shadow of a castle. Turkish border 10km away is closed for the night so on to Batumi and the setting sun. (2004-07-27 18:45 - Bergie)

In Adzharia the 'red' road turned from bad to terrible gravel with no signs. Treading on at 20km/h without rear brake. (2004-07-27 19:43 - Bergie)

Too dark and dangerous to ride so I'm staying in guest room of a tea house in Goderdzi Pass (2025m). Very scenic. (2004-07-27 20:51 - Bergie)

Had a dinner and lots of conversation in broken Russian with the tea house people. Now going to sleep with bike hopefully staying on the porch. (2004-07-27 22:31 - Bergie)

The morning has painted the mountains very beautiful. I pack the bike, pay the innkeeper and start descending. Uaz jeep can get to Batumi in 3h. (2004-07-28 07:03 - Bergie)

After 80km of traktor trails since leaving Akhaltsikhe the road is starting to improve as it winds downwards. And the rear brake has returned. (2004-07-28 08:37 - Bergie)

Batumi. Trying to get some photos printed before heading to Turkish border. (2004-07-28 10:25 - Bergie)