Borders seem to be becoming progressively more of a hassle, at the Turkey/Georgia border James and I have to get out of the van and have to queue with what seems like hundreds of Turks/Georgians to get through customs while John goes through with the van. We are in a queue with lots of very pushy and dare I say it smelly sweaty people - by the time we are in Georgia James says he feels as if he has been violated!
Georgia is located in the Caucaus region of Euro Asia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe Not European but not Asian - if it were European it would have the highest mountains as in the north of the country, the range is over 5000m, bigger than Mont Blanc! Unfortunately we don't have time to visit as we need to catch a ferry in Azerbaijan never mind next time
Immediately it feels different to Turkey, how can that be a small strip of land can make one place feel so different to another ? The biggest difference we notice is the driving - if we thought Turkish driving was a bit dodgy then Georgian driving takes things to a totally new level. So this is how it works, Georgian drivers will overtake anywhere and I truly mean anywhere, blind corners, approaching the top of a hill, when it seems impossible to overtake because there is another car coming!!! the norm is that the car being overtaken brakes while the oncoming traffic breaks and everyone moves slightly over for the overtaking vehicle then with a bit of luck we will avoid an accident - now that may all seem bad enough but you need to throw in to the mix random animals on the road, we were used to dogs but now we had to look out for cows, pigs and dogs and not just on what we might call B roads but A roads and motorways!
Slip road on to motorway just need to negotiate the cows!
We decide to spend our first night along the black sea coast we are hoping that it may be more alluring in Georgia, than it had been in Turkey. we wild camp just outside of a place called Poti which could have been so lovely if it hadn't been for the rubbish, not so different then! a beautiful spot ruined by garbage. We gain a couple of friends for the night - two sweetie pie little dogs, oh how easy it would be just to pop them in the van, we miss our furry friends from home so much.
James woke us in the night to let us know that a police car had just pulled up near us, we have no idea if wild camping is allowed in Georgia but they haven't bothered us so presumably they are just checking us out, me on the other hand now can't sleep at all as we are obviously going to be murdered in our beds by corrupt policeman - must have nodded off at some point and still alive the next day!
Next stop Tbilisi the Capital, not usually a big fan of cities but this one is lovely. It so reminds me of Paris, lots of tree lined streets, coffee shops and a general relaxed and European feel - even the people are a little grumpy like the Parisians we almost feel at home!
A little left bankish don't you think?
Interesting fact - Georgia has a population of 5million of which 1million live in the Capital Tbilisi, The state of Georgia in the US has nearly 10million population!
Even some of the signs look a bit French
We have a couple of days to head for the border so decide to visit a Monastery which is bigged up in the Lonely Planet book. The monastery is 50k off the main road, and a very bumpy off road 50k but the upside is the stunning scenery beautiful rolling meadows full of early summer flowers beautiful.
We stop for a photo/wee stop and I consult the all knowing Lonely Planet book, which informs me that we "should beware of Poisonous Vipers in the area especially between May and July!!!! It is June!!!! I call the boys back from their wee/photo spot trying to convey how dangerous it is out there - they laugh at me, but not for long! As we are driving along the bumpy road an enormous- (stretches arms out wide) snake crosses the road, now John says it gets bigger every time I tell the story but it truly was at the very least a metre long and really really fat at least the diameter of a golf ball (according to John) more like a tennis ball according to me - maybe somewhere inbetween?? Consequently this means i don't want to get out of the van at all!
We eventually get to the monastery too late to visit but thought we could camp for the night nearby so we went to ask the benevolent monks if it would be ok, Well we have never met such a miserable bunch of holy men they were so rude, they were very indifferent to us camping but verging on the downright unpleasant, and in my mind scary so now if we survived the venomous snakes we would no doubt be murdered in our beds by the crazy monks. As it transpired we had a really peaceful night in the Georgian hills unbothered by crazy monks or snakes.
Lots of these little guys around
The following morning we visited the monastery which had the most exquisite chapel and bought some of the wine made by the miserable monks which felt exciting but like the monks was disappointing before heading back along the 50k bumpy road
Beautiful little Chaple at the Monastary
We did stay another night in Georgia close to the border village of Lagodekhi where there is a picturesque national park, we managed a short walk in the very alpine like woods again reminding us of France, there were even snow capped mountains in the distance, it would have been good to stay and explore more but we need to get to Azerbaijan as we have ferry to catch!
General overall impressions were very European like country, people not over friendly and completely mad drivers - Would love to come back and explore properly as we only really skimmed the surface of what is on offer. As we are uploading this a few weeks after the visit we were very sad to hear of the floods in Tbilisi it was a very pretty city and we only hope the damage is not beyond repair.