So it came to be that, instead of crossing Turkmenistan, we will have to travel back to Europe, cross Azerbaijan as fast as possible and board a ship which will take us from Baku to Aktau in Kazakhstan. Somehow we managed to transit through Azerbaijan in three days and leave the country before we even started to realise that we had arrived. We had learned from our previous mistakes and this time we did not have any expectations towards Azerbaijan – probably the only things we knew about this country were connected with oil and Nagorno-Karabakh. We think that you should let yourself form your own opinion and let everyone else form theirs. Truth be told, there was one reason why we wanted to cross the Iranian/Azeri border as fast as possible – after the dry law of Iran we finally had an opportunity to test real Azeri beer (preferably from two liter plastic bottle).
We had planned to find a way how to cross the Caspian Sea with a ship
The main reason for staying in Tbilisi for such a long time was connected with the curious incident in Sevastopol, Crimea. In case somebody is still wondering, what really happened in Sevastopol, here is a very short recap – two of our bicycles got stolen by ruthless criminals (you can find out more by watching this or reading this). So we found ourselves in Tbilisi wondering what to do next, because we had to find a way out of this mess or we will have to turn back home. This time we did not have any illusions, that this problem will solve itself and we understood from the very start that it all depends solely on us.
In Georgia they love food and even measure economical indicators with khachapuri
How long can you be lazy and keep on inventing excuses for not doing something? We have understood that it is possible to do it for quite a long time, but eventually we got tired of being lazy or even start to become lazy of being lazy and this very moment is finally here. So finally, after several months, we present to you recap of our Georgian adventures. Before you start to read this very long article, I would like to point out that unfortunately not everything is covered in this blog post and even some of the things that are covered have not been covered in full detail.
Arrival in Georgia
We spent the first night in Georgia not far from the highest mountain in the country – Mt. Kazbeg. That was probably the coldest night I have spent in a tent, the temperature dropped to -10C
We spent the next day in a much more inhabitable environment, but even there the room temperature was around 0 – maybe that was the reason why this room was used as a substitute for a refrigerator.
It was well after midnight when the ferry approached Russian port “Kavkaz” and all of its passengers rushed to get back to their personal vehicles, buses or cargo trucks. I was the only cyclist on board and as soon as the gate opened I was ready to head into the unknown. I could only guess what is waiting for me there – how many kilometres I would have to pedal tonight to get to our camping spot and what will locals think about the flying Latvian flag (we had an impression that a lot of Russians do not like Latvians very much).
I had to encounter the first surprise right after I left the ferry – it turned out that the passenger terminal is located on a narrow and long strip of land and I will have to cycle for approximately eleven kilometres to reach the Russian mainland and thus our camping site. Fearing no darkness and exhaustion I headed to the coast. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the asphalt is of decent quality and the road is lit by countless lanterns. Most probably the road has been renovated to accommodate the increasing flow of transport after the annexation of Crimean peninsula. This comparatively short cycling trip was notable for mainly two reasons – the annoying headwind and the late hour of day. At the very end of this land strip I was greeted by Russian police at the police checkpoint – it was really a pleasant meeting as they allowed me to continue without any interesting questions (they were really friendly and humorous). I waved goodbye to the officers and cycled on to look for our camp site.
As Ivars and Laura perfectly pointed out our resting place in Yalta was in no way ordinary. In the same vein the following day was not ordinary. We were already late (the usual morning ritual took us more than expected and it was already 12.30 when we were ready to leave) and thus there was no more time to waste, I had to jump on the saddle and pedal away.
Before leaving Sevastopol, I had spent some time looking over maps of Southern Crimea to understand what exactly I should expect there (I was particularly interested in elevation profile of the peninsula). For this purpose there is an excellent tool – cycleroute.org. In this simple and intuitive web site you can see the elevation profile for you chosen cycling route – all uphill and downhill sections are highlighted, you can see how steep and long is the climb. In our situation the practical significance was not so evident as we had already decided upon the chosen route. All I could do was to check if my worst fears corresponded to the reality. This time it was what happened – I found out that I will have to battle with several hills higher than the highest “mountain” in Latvia – Gaiziņkalns (312 meters above sea level).
The elevation graph showing the route from Yalta to Solnechnogorsk