A very bloody hello from Romania!!! HA HA HA!
Hold on I’m getting way ahead of myself here. I still need to fill you in on the three countries in between. Firstly, I want to apologize again for not posting as often as I would like to but Internet is a hard thing to come by, especially if you can’t speak, or read the language. But Will and I have finally found a place to stay that has a computer as well. So where did William leave off last time? I think he was giving you some of the highlights of Turkey? I really loved Turkey. The landscape was so beautiful and there was something for everyone. Beautiful beaches, high mountains (which horny got to experience first hand several times) and the greenest farmlands that stretched for kilometers. And the people were so friendly. We didn’t stop at any hotel or gas station where we weren’t offered some chai and smiles. The weather on the other hand did not seem to really play along. it occurred to us one day that we hadn’t really seen many sunny hot days and that the rain was never far behind us. For William and I it wasn’t so bad but for poor Niko and Jasa on the bikes it must have been horrible. It did provide them with some adventure riding though. So after Nemrut (where it actually started snowing/hailing on us) we started our way to the norther coast, or the Black sea. After yet another extremely terrifying mountain pass where the road mostly ended in a cliff, we camped in a construction site on the side of the road. This seemed to be becoming a trend as this was our second construction site. Luckily we weren’t woken up too early this time by the bulldozers and trucks, last time it was at 7, this time 8. We then arrived at the coast and made our way to Georgia.
We sailed through the border with the help of some Turkish guys who ushered us through, letting us skip all the ques. but as we foresaw this was too good to be true and they demanded we pay them when we were on the other side. The price ranged from 15lira to 15 euros to 50 euros. But after some wheeling and dealing from Will they settle for 20 lira which is about 10 euros between the 4 of us. We were then officially (and without me having to buy a visa for some reason) in post soviet Georgia!
Georgia was a stark contrast to Turkey with less warm welcomes from the majority, a lot more alcohol drinking and finally significantly cheaper gas prices. Our first night was spent at a botanical garden in the city of Batumi. Batumi is the late president’s pet project turning it into a tourist hub, lucky for us as we got the low-down on what to see in the area. Our night in the botanical garden was graced by a poor little puppy who we donned “Kaya”. Kaya was visibly emaciated and terribly distrusting of humans. With a bit of bread, patience and careful movements we won the trust of this little pup who we quickly fell in love with. She gratefully spent the night in our shabby little hotel room after being fattened on bread and other tidbits plus a little de-ticking from Kirsten. The next day we were already thinking of ways we could take her back to Niko’s step-father who is a dog-lover and would have taken the poor little dear in. After a long discussion we decided that unfortunately we couldn’t help this little mongrel as our funds were on a strict budget as it was.. and we all know dogs drain the money sink. So with a heavy heart we left Kaya in her paradise/hell of the botanical garden.
Our main mission in Georgia was to take the ferry across the Black Sea to Bulgaria in order to avoid the high fuel prices of Turkey and to discover a totally unfamiliar country to all of us. It was necessary to inquire in the port town of Poti as to how we could traverse the great sea. This became quite an exchange of uncertainties, changed plans and unforeseen circumstances. To make a long story short we made a loop through Georgia exploring along the way and came back to Poti only to find that we had another 10 days to wait until the ferry arrived. This led to a further string of events but I would first like to describe to points of Georgia that I particularly enjoyed. The first was in a small village in the middle of Georgia. It was getting dark and we needed to find a place to stay. It had been raining rather furiously all day so we were reluctant to camp but were hard put to find a lodge. Finally Niko asked a local policeman who took us directly to a woman living alone in a rather large country house who had converted it into a sort of bed and breakfast. She was expecting company but agreed to let us stay for the night for the small fee of 40 Lari. This is the equivalent of about 20 euros, therefore only 5 euros each.. very agreeable indeed. We enjoyed a very pleasant evening buying a few necessities from the local grocer (a small shack on the side of the road) and enjoying another fine meal from Kirsten cooked the old way over a wood oven. The electricity had gone out in the whole village so we drank home-made Georgian wine while talking about the contrasts between the Soviet way of life and the modern capitalist way. The woman spoke English very well and had quite a number of splendid tales to tell. I was most struck by her story about supporting her family at the beginning of the fall of the Soviet union when power was changing hands quickly and one was left to their own devices instead of the support of a government. The woman, living in the Georgian capitol (Tbilisi) was forced to smuggle goods all the way from China and sell them in the city in order to warm her house and feed her family. She described such nights that were so cold that they would change into their bed clothes under the covers of the bed, the whole family snuggled together for warmth. It was quite a different picture of reality all together for me and made me understand how lucky I had been throughout my life.
The other more memorable moment for me was at a nature reserve called Mtvala National Park. We took a splendid hike there to a waterfall and I was struck by the quiet beauty of the place. The waterfall fell thunderously into a pool and was quite cool to the touch. We drank its sweet water and climbed to the small ledge behind to take in a moment of raw sound and power. We then found a nice sitting spot further on and enjoyed a William Wallacesque game of throwing stones at targets. Amazing how with a little imagination and returning to the mind of a child one can be amused for so long. Upon our return to the visitors cabin where we were staying we made lunch and were invited to a toast with the local rangers. One toast turned into fifty and soon we were all dancing in gaiety together. The drink of choice: Georgian Schnapps, home made liquor made from grapes (in this case) and with a powerful sting to the throat that sends your eyes watering and your vocal chords singing. We guessed it may have been about 40 percent alcohol. Niko’s russian came in handy once again as he continued to translate the great deeds of these fellows, including drinking 10 liters of wine (as if it were water), battles (one of them was an ex-special ops) and Soviet era truck off-roading. As the night wore on, the strong brew took hold and I happily took myself to bed with Kirsten’s encouragement. I was sad to hear the next day that I had missed a whole episode of the evening as a series of brawls broke out between the rangers and some local fellows. To the extent of clobbering each other with stones and madly shouting insults concerning death threats. Luckily their cordiality remained for the present tourists who were privy to these theatrics.
As the ferry was to come in another 10 days we decided to bite the bullet and head west by road across the whole country of Turkey once again.
So I thought I’d let William describe Georgia for you but I’ll do a quick update of the rest of the trip. And I’ve just been asked to get off the computer so this is going to have to be quick. William and I decided to race across Turkey making kilometer more important than sight seeing. After all, who can say they’ve been to Turkey twice in one month and crossed the entire country both times. So we rushed across, making it in a record time of about 24 hours. Our tactic was one sleeps the other drives. And amazingly our little horny hit the 1000km mark with one tank!! so it’s safe to say we all worked very hard. Bulgaria was very beautiful as well. we stayed in a tiny town the first night just to catch up on sleep then traveled all the way north the next day. It was a pleasant country but i think Will and I were more interested in Romania. We did love the forests in Bulgaria.
Unfortunately I’ll have to stop there for today. My spot here at the computer is being eyed very angrily by a short little Romanian girl and I don’t want to find out what she is capable of. So maybe I can try again tomorrow morning! Till then!!!