Spring in Georgia and Turkey

After saying goodbye to Rita and Dani on the airport in Tbilisi, we finally went back to Emma. The three weeks she spent on the parking space of the Mercedes Benz truck service. After the first night back in our bed, we started with the outstanding works like changing the front wheels and greasing some parts of the truck. As the prices including the spare parts are the same as in Germany, we decided to do everything by ourselves. In the afternoon we drove to Ucha (our friend and mechanic at a petrol station), where we have already been in the beginning of the year. Early the next morning we changed the complete oil and meanwhile somebody else cleaned our Black Flash. After midday everything was finished, so we drove to our well known place at the Tbilisi Lake. The following days we spent with chilling, washing clothes and cooking at Mikels place, smaller works on Emma, tiding up... Through Mikel we got to know two other cyclists from England, Alice and Louis. We invited all together to our truck for eating pizza. It was a funny evening with a lot of laughing, eating and talking.

Gemütliches Beieinander mit unseren Fahrradfreunden
Nice evening with your bicycle friends

On Thursday we drove to Chiatura, as Hannes was planned to arrive in the night. After a few hours driving we arrived at the climbers house, which key we got from Guga. The nice neighbours allowed us to park next to the house. Emma was standing more then one month at the same place, meanwhile we travelled with the Black flash and our guest Hannes through Georgia.

Ein Teil unserer Nachbarn, Oma mit den Enkel Mariam und Saba
A part of our neighbours, the grandmother with her grandchildren Mariam and Saba

When Hannes went back to Germany, we spent another two weeks in the climbing house, sometimes together with other climbers, sometimes alone. When the weather was good, we went climbing and one day we made our first biking tour of the year. In the garden we started building a shelter and cleaned the surrounding of plants and weed.

Wir nutzten die Zeit um eine Hängematte zu nähen und einen kleinen Unterstand bei der Feuerstelle zu bauen
We used the time to sew a hammock and build a shelter next to the fireplace
Erkundung der Umgebung des Kletterhauses mit unseren Fahrrädern
Exploring the surroundings of the climbing house with our bikes

Finally, Mikel arrived, for whom we have already been waiting for a while. After a few days after starting in Tbilisi with his bike, he had to go back because of technical problems. When he finally arrived, we were happy to see each other again and we enjoyed the life together in the house with a huge garden and went as well climbing.

Johannes in seinem Element als Brotbäcker
Johannes the bread maker
Und hier das Ergebnis, gebacken im Dutch oven auf dem Feuer
And here the result, baked in the Dutch Oven on the fire
Wir genossen die Zeit mit Mikel beim gemeinsamen Essen und kochen...
We had a great time together with Mikel, eating and cooking…
... und beim Anlegen eines grossen Gartenbeetes
… and preparing a small garden

One day, the climbing community became bigger, Georgian, Lithuanian and Belarusian climbers joined us. We enjoyed the nice weather climbing together and one day we went cleaning a new rock. In the evenings we had good meals together and spent time on the fire.

Um uns herum entstand eine kleine, internationale Zeltstadt
Next to us, a small, international tent town grew up

Finally we said goodbye to all, packed Mikels bike on the back and together we drove to Borjomi.

Vor der Losfahrt wurde nochmals frisches Wasser getankt. Der Brunnen dient dem ganzen Dorf zur Trinkwasserversorgung, da niemand fliessend Wasser im Haus hat.
Before starting to our trip, we had to fill up our water tanks. On the fountain, which gets used from all the people in the village, as no-one has running water in the house.

We walked around in the town and in the park, got invited to some wine and finally ate in a restaurant, where Bakar joined us.
The following day we drove to Achalziche, where we walked again around in town and got some fresh food. After the break, we finally drove to Vardzia. We found a spot for parking next to a hot spring (water temperature 43 degrees), which we visited during the night, when all the tourists had gone.

Emma vollbepackt mit "La Rossa" von Mikel, auf dem Weg nach Vardzia
Emma with “La Rossa” from Mikel, on the way to Vardzia
Ein unscheinbares Gebäude und drin ein Schwimmbecken, mit richtig heissem Wasser
An inconspicuous building and inside is a hot pool, with really warm water

The next morning we went for a bike ride in the beautiful landscape to a small church in Gavedi. We were pretty impressed about the lonesome and hard life of the people there.

Gemütliche Fahrradtour
On our bike tour
Die Landschaft mit dem Canyon und den Hochebenen war eindrücklich
The landscape with the canyon and the highlands was impressive
Mikel unterhält sich mit einer Bäuerin, welche zusammen mit ihrem Mann auf über 2000 müM ein Kartoffelfeld von Hand vorbereitet
Mikel is talking to a farmer, which is preparing a field for potatoes together with her husband, all with their hands on more than 2000 m altitude
Dies war das Ziel unserer Tour, eine alte Kirche
This was the target of our tour, an old church

The next day we got woken up by Mikel, who collected around 1 kilogram of fresh asparagus, which we immediately prepared for breakfast. In the afternoon the two men went kajaking on the river next to our camp and enjoyed an adventurous ride.

Was für ein Frühstück, frische, wilde Spargeln
What a breakfast, fresh, wild asparagus
Am Ende der Tour, beide glücklich
At the end of the tour, both happy

After three nights we decided to drive to the boarder of Turkey. First we drove on a gravel road out of the canyon to a high plateau, which Mikel drove pretty fast with his bike and all his luggage. We were waiting for him on the top and talked to the local farmers.

Ausblick auf die gefahrene Strasse, sowie die Höhlenstadt Vardzia
View over the road and the cave town of Vardzia
Gratulation an Mikel, der beim Hochfahren sogar nochmals angehalten hatte, um Spargeln zu ernten
Congratulation to Mikel, who even stopped driving uphill for collecting more asparagus
Die Anwohner freuten sich über einen seltenen Besuch
The farmers were happy about the seldom visit

All together we decided to wait for Mikel on the Turkish side of the boarder and we drove through the meagre landscape. In the boarder region of Georgia are mainly Armenians living, what we noticed when we went shopping, as nobody understood our few words we know in Georgian. With Russian it was no problem and well prepared for dinner we drove to the boarder.

Auch die Kühe wollten vor dem Gewitter zu Hause sein
The cows tried as well to be at home before the thunderstorm

Shortly before we arrived there, a heavy thunderstorm passed over us. Pretty impressive and we were happy about our truck. With any problem we passed the boarder, it seemed that the custom officers did not feel like going out in the bad weather. On the Turkish side we parked in the line with the Iranian oil trucks and asked ourselves, if Mikel would make it to us tonight. During the boarder control he had called us and we encouraged him and told him about the blue sky we were able to see.

Bei uns schien schon wieder die Sonne, doch bei Mikel sah es dunkel aus
The sun was already shining, back at Mikel’s place it looked dark

At this time he was still 17 km away from the boarder, waiting at a bus stop and it was already around 19.30. Later we got another call, as he needed 10 dollars for a visa from us. Finally at 23.30 we were all together and enjoyed dinner. Afterwards we all went happy to bed. The next day we drove to the next bigger town Çıldır (around 1600 inhabitants) where we met Sven and Martina, who came from Iran and together we were waiting for our cyclist Mikel, who arrived all wet, after having passed several thunderstorms.

Kurz nachdem Mikel ankam, ging wieder ein starker Platzregen nieder
Shortly after Mikel arrived, another downpour…

We got some Turkish Lira, fresh food and drove together to the Çıldır lake, where we found a nice spot on the shore. The next three days we spent with talking, drinking coffee, cooking and observing the changing weather. Sun, rain, storm and thunderstorms were changing every half an hour.

Unser Stellplatz
Our campsite
Hier die Aussicht aus dem Stubenfenster, wieder einmal mit Sonne
Here the view out of the window, this time with sunshine

On the third day we drove with Mikel to the canyon, to see if it would be possible for kayaking. We parked our truck above a village and all the inhabitants were happy to see us. But as soon as we arrived in the village, the boss of the village told us, that we could not stay here because of the police. We were allowed to have a look to the canyon and we saw, that there was a huge water damm and it was no river anymore, it was more like a lake (we were not able to see it in the internet). Not for kayaking.

Unser Begleitkommitee
Our company from the village
Im Hintergrund das Dorf, welches direkt am Rand des Canyons gebaut ist
In the background the village, which is situated directly on the edge of the canyon
Der gestaute Canyon
The dammed canyon

So we went back to our old place at the lake, where we first drank a tea in the restaurant and then enjoyed the last evening with Mikel, eating a self made pizza. The next day we hung around, talked to each other and did not feel like saying goodbye. But then came the time for leaving, Mikel drove with his beloved Rossa towards the South and we back to Çıldır. There we bought some nice Turkish food and drove back to the boarder. On the Georgian side we found after two villages a nice place in the forrest for one night. The next morning we drove close to Achalkalaki, where we found a nice place in a small canyon next to a river. We enjoyed the nice sunny weather with some small works on the truck and collecting some fresh herbs. The plan for the next day was going to a lake and kayaking back to our truck. To the lake we went by hitchhiking, which was absolutely no problem. The landscape was beautiful but unfortunately already after 500 m the adventure stopped, as one of the kayaks got a big hole because of a sharp lava stone. This meant again hitchhiking back and repairing the boat.

Am Anfang unserer kurzen Kajaktour
The start of our short kayaking tour
Ein grösserer Schnitt...
A bigger cut…

The next morning we first drove to Achalkalaki, where we visited the centre, bought some fresh vegetables on the market and ate a superb soup in a small restaurant including a good coffee (unfortunately, you often get only the pre-made coffee out of a bag if you go to a restaurant either in Georgia or Turkey). Then we took the road towards Bakuriani, which after a few kilometres changed into a gravel road with many holes.

Ein typisch armenisches Steinhaus
A typical Armenian stonehouse
Oftmals sieht man auch Gebäude mit Grasdächern
Often grass is growing on the roofs

In a village we stopped to refill our water tanks and already after a short time we were the attraction of the village. Just before we had finished, a woman spoke to us in with few Italian words and we found out, that she was catholic. She invited us to her house and we got to know all her 4 children (from 4 months to 17 years), her husband and the 87 year old mother in law. Finally we stayed more than one hour and got even some nice food and in the end we made some pictures all together. A very nice family.

Die ganze Familie inklusive dem neusten Familienzuwachs
Nearly the whole family including the youngest
Natürlich durfte ein Bild mit der Oma nicht fehlen
The picture with the grandmother had not to be missed

The boarder region around Armenia and parts of Turkey are inhabited by Armenians. These people are very helpful and in opposite to the Georgians, they never invited us for schnapps and neither asked us about the price of our truck, pretty pleasant. Now we passed more Armenian villages, where everybody was working on their fields, planting potatoes. Our road went higher and higher up to 2000 m, where we found a nice place next to the Tabatskuri lake.

Blick auf den Tabatskuri See bei der Anfahrt
Our first view over the Tabatskuri lake
Stellplatz direkt am See
The camping spot next to the lake

We stayed there for two nights and one morning we walked up a volcano. Because of predicted thunderstorms, we decided to start at 5.30 and two hours later we had a beautiful panorama.

Früher Start auf direktem Weg zum Gipfel
Early start and on the direct way to the summit
Aussicht auf den Tabatskuri See
View to the Tabatskuri lake
Beeindruckendes Schauspiel von vorbeiziehenden Wolken
Impressive spectacle of the passing by clouds

The rest of the day we were chilling, as heavy thunderstorms passed by. The next day we started around midday, after having tried to explain the new 4x4 vehicle to a park ranger. Higher we drove and on around 2500 m we were back on the main road to Bakuriani and first had to stop on the military checkpoint.

Vorbeiziehende Landschaft
Road from the pass to Bakuriani

The road down to Bakuriani was steep and as the town still did not look any better than in wintertime, we decided to drive directly to Borjomi. There we ate some nice Khinkali and a Chaschapuri Adscharuli. After half an hour on the road, we found a place for sleeping next to the river Mtkvari. Early the next morning when still all the Georgians were sleeping, we went for another hike. Unfortunately, a part of the trail was not existing anymore, we still tried to find a way fighting through bushes and fern, but we gave up. On another way we walked back, on small tracks, through streams and meadows.

Landschaft in der aufgehenden Sonne
Green hills in the sunrise
Das erste Ziel ist erreicht
The first destination is reached
Schön siehts aus...
It looks beautiful…
Und überall blühten die Margeriten
Everywhere the marguerites were blooming
Über den Fluss führt eine befahrbare Brücke, für die wenigen Häuser, die auf der anderen Seite liegen
Over the river Mtkvari is a drivable bridge crossing for the few houses on the other side

Back at the truck we enjoyed the good weather and at midday we drove towards Kutaissi, where we parked next to the monks, which we got to know in December.

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