Information: The original language of this blog is German. Any other language is translated using DEEPL's machine translation (www.deepl.com), without proofreading.
With rested but again untrained legs we cycled from Telavi through the Tbilisi National Park back to the Georgian capital. It was our third visit to Tbilisi, which served especially to pick up the long-awaited parcel with replacement parts.
Receiving mail in Georgia is complicated and tedious as there are neither mailboxes nor proper addresses. At the end of August, my parents sent the parcel via DHL Germany to a Swiss pizzeria owner in Tbilisi, where it arrived about one month later. Many thanks to all who were involved in the shipment!
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Tbilisi is a very lively city with countless places to go out. There is a fine line between run-down and trendy-modern. It seemed to us that Tbilisi was the superlative of Zurich Wiedikon in terms of hipness :-D On our third visit, the city was even more crowded than usual because of the many Russian refugees. Our accommodation tried to cancel the booked room the night before arrival, probably to rent it out for a longer time at a better price. Only because we insisted on our booking, we still got an affordable place to sleep in Tbilisi.
In Tbilisi, we had to decide whether our trip should continue to Armenia or return to Turkey. Because Azerbaijan launched new attacks in the south of Armenia in mid-September and the insecure situation continues, various foreign ministries (including the EDA) have since advised against travel to the three southern provinces of Armenia (a precise analysis can be found on Eurasianet.org). We wanted to avoid the approx. 300km ride on the border of the conflict area and therefore chose the way back to Turkey. A detour to Yerevan was not considered because the closest border crossing to Turkey is closed and we would have had to drive back to Georgia.
That we already cycled a large part of the route in Georgia in the opposite direction, we could now fully enjoy. In Orbeti we ate again the best Lobiani of Georgia and in Ninotsminda we visited again the food court with wonderful pastries and fresh Khinkali (dumplings filled with potatoes, cheese or meat). In the last few weeks, autumn has noticeably arrived. People are preparing for the (long) winter, harvesting potatoes and gathering their animals in the mountains. In the morning it is cool and, in the evening, it gets dark early (in Turkey already at 5 pm).
The entry into Turkey was without any problems. The Turkish border official looked at our passports so closely only because she liked the design very much :-D. On the Turkish side, the trucks for the entry to Georgia were queuing up for many kilometers. The route via Georgia is currently one of the only ways how goods can still be transported to Russia. For political reasons Georgia delays the entry and exit of the trucks as long as possible.
Waving in a friendly manner, we passed the patient truck drivers who wait for days to clear the border. Yesterday we pedaled 80km against strong winds and reached the Turkish town of Kars again after about two months. With the ongoing protests in Iran, we are taking our time here to consider various options for the onward journey. It remains exciting…