Monday, 4 June 2012

Quick Blog for today......

.....while we're sitting in McDonalds, Kutaisi, half way between the border and Tblisi. Gotta grab the wifi while you can, and yes, the menu is exactly the same as anywhere else, except its written in Georgian, which looks like weird mix of Thai, Sandscrit and cyrillic. Apparently its one of the oldest languages in the world, the alphabet being two and a half thousand years old, with Georgian writings being found all over the place where old Bibley stuff happens.

We've done 150 kms this morning and its stonkingly hot but dry. There is a hot breeze blowing too which is really difficult to ride in, particularly as its head on.

Georgia looks very different from anywhere else we're been so far. Quite green and agricultural,but lots of derelict buildings and odd things in the middle of nowhere. Not sure what this statue was but it was huge and near nothing. Could have been an old left over from Soviet days or something new, not sure. I think it was Edvard Shevanadze who came from Georgia so perhaps big Politburo inspired things did reach here afterall.

People waving at us as we ride past again, and we met this man on a garage forecourt who wanted to welcome us to the country ( we think - sounded like that or something) Also bought us a chocolate bar and kissed our hands. That never happens when I stop for petrol at  BP  at the Elephant and Castle.

It must be cow hatching time around  here too as there are calves everywhere, including laying in the road. Nobody slows down either, but haven't seen any carcases as yet.

Had breakfast at the airport this morning as we needed to use the ATM to get money. Parked the bikes directly outside, complete with full spare tanks, and nobody said a word. Had to go through a security check just to get in and get a coffee though.
Will update later subject to signal etc

An update............made it to Mtakheta, just north of Tblisi, and not far from the border with Chechnya. Decided to stop here for the night because the light was dropping and we need to head up the Georgian Military Highway tomorrow towards Russia, and the road is not supposed to be that great in parts. So definitely not one to ride in the dark.

Had a bit of luck though as we couldn't see anywhere to stay as we rode in so we stopped by the kerb to see if satnav could help. It couldn't but a man and his grandson wandered by , asked if they could help, and low and behold, had a guest room which we could use. Excellent. Mini apartment thing and the whole family turned out to help us park the bikes and unload. 

This town is in a gorge with several  forts and monasteries on the hillsides. Apparently its the ancient capital of Georgia and the cradle of Georgian Christianity. A sort of Canterbury. Amazing what you discover from Tourist leaflets found at airports.

Bikes have been better today. Nadine's clutch is Ok after the last Turkish mechanic sorted it and mine is still ok after the cylinder head replacement although it still isn't as pokey as her bike, although mine is better on petrol. Well pokey for a Chinese scoot. But it did excel itself this morning in Batumi and outran a train. The town roads were diabolical, really rough  and dreadful although quite nice cars were still driving up them. A man stopped to see if we needed  directions, which we did, and led us out of the town to the main road, across a railway line - which I reached just as a train came along. No warning, no barriers, just time for a quick prayer and big blip of the throttle and I was across. Luckily the train was going quite slowly and the bike did what it was supposed to. Certainly woke me up though.

 We struggled a bit up a mountain pass today too. A combination of a very strong head on wind and bad fuel. We were lucky not to get stuck as well because two petrol stations were shut and we were running on fumes. Nadine's bike died just as she rolled up to the fuel pump we did find down in the valley.

As were were riding down the same valley road, we came across loads of bread stalls. Lots of women standing by the roadside offering loaves for sale. It must have been the worse place ever in terms of competition, yet there seemed to be nowhere else selling bread for miles. It seems that is what they do here - one town does one thing, one something else. Not sure what that's all about and how annoying if you just need a pint of milk and a loaf. You'd have to travel miles.

There is a big police presence in Georgia and they have the best cars and buildings. Really quite noticeable in every town as they are modern and stand out. We also saw several big police convoys today - black 4x4s with blacked out windows hacking along, about ten of them . It looked like maybe a presidential outing, and we're not far from the capital, so maybe that is what it was.

And we came across what  must be the poshest petrol station in the world. In the middle of nowhere alongside a new motorway. It looks like the MacLaren HQ in Woking and is totally out of place and odd.  Its huge but there was nobody there.