Amazing Caucasus Mountains

The Caucasus Mountains, Georgia

Oops, it’s been a while since I added to my diary. My bad!

Right. Getting out of Samsun was DEFINITELY the right move. Heading to Cappadocia was good fun. Nice roads, gentle scenery, uneventful and easy riding.

Goreme (in Cappadocia) was a sea change. Very touristy (though not like Venice) and amazing views. As a visitor to the town, one is supposed to do one or more of the following:

  • Watch the sunrise over Love Valley from one of about 100 hot air balloons.
  • Visit the open air museum of the stone/cave dwellings.
  • Rent a quad bike and go on a guided tour of the trails.
  • Go horse riding.

So I did none of those things. The balloons launched from right near my tent each morning, and the noise that the burners make is enough to make you think there is a bloody great big bear outside your tent at 5am! But I got to see the balloons and then go back to sleep.

The open air museum seemed a waste of time, as the dwellings are all over the place anyway, and you can just explore them (they are pretty cool).

Anyway, to summarise:

  • I availed myself of the cafes in the daytime and drank loads of cay (tea/chai).
  • I availed myself of the bars in the evening and drank loads of beer (Efes is good but Bomonti is better).
  • I took my bike up to the trails and just rode around at random, exploring the valleys and vistas.

The trail riding was ACE! I think I can say that I’m starting to improve, gaining confidence with each new crazy set of topology. Of course, I hadn’t had my first fall by this stage.

Goreme was fun. Meeting other travellers (including my first Brit since Venice) was useful for future trips, and I could’ve spent weeks exploring the trails.

The beer was costing me MONEY.

Time to move on.

East. Gevas (Near Van) was the destination. Long way.

A nice, cheap wild camp by the lake just north of Malatya and I was fresh again to complete the journey the next day.

I arrived at Gevas on Sunday 15th June and it was all nice and simple. There was a campsite by the lake and all looked good – even posh. The food (Tavuk sis – chicken shish kebab) was good, there was Efes and the sunset over the lake was serene. At 10 Euro per nights, I was looking forward to my morning ablutions.

This campsite should NOT have cost 10 Euro! Try 4 Euro! I can take a shit in a hole and walk on broken glass anywhere in Turkey. I might have to put that on Tripadvisor.

The site’s fortuitously-timed saving grace was that five German guys were on a bike tour and were also camping there.

The next morning all six of us set off for east Turkey proper (very close to the border with Iran) and then headed north to Georgia.

It was an interesting experience, to switch from riding solo to riding in a group that had an alpha-male leading it.

The riding pace was a little quicker (i.e less fuel-efficient) than I would’ve picked, but we were taking the same route anyway so I ended up getting into Georgia and getting settled into a hotel before dark.

That said, I prefer my adventure riding… solo. Maybe a smaller group would work though?

Last night, at our hotel in Akhaltsikhe, a subset of us headed out for some grub. We didn’t even get 20m from the hotel (out front, by the row of six bikes) when two local chaps pulled up on their two-wheeled rides and stopped. We started chatting (the head-honcho German chap was Ukraine-born so I think they spoke in Russian, or similar) and one of these locals turned out to be from a family that owns a bar/restaurant.

A banquet of free food and a gallon of free local wine was consumed.

Bikers of the world unite!

Right, I’m leaving out some details here, nothing consequential but I want to go to bed shortly.

Georgia. Odd place… It feels like I’m back in eastern Europe.

The roads here are shocking! the drivers are as bad as in Bosnia.

The off-road trails are ace! The main roads are so bad that they count as off-road too!


Akhaltsikhe -> Abastumani (Ok)

Abastumani -> Baghdati (Awesome trail)

Baghdati -> Tsageri (Knackered road. Fun but exhausting)

When one gets into the mountains in Georgia the views are simply stunning. The bike is caked in filth and looks cool for it.

Tomorrow I head north to Mestia, near the Russian border. My guess is that the roads will be, once again, exhausting. I also assume that the Caucasus mountains ‘proper’ will be breathtaking.

Goodness knows how they get petrol to the garage here. I’d like to see a fuel tanker cross the road I did today. It can’t be like a European tanker – it must be more of an army-like vehicle.

Right, it’s 22:15 here (19:15 BST). I’ve had a proper physical workout today.

Time for bed!

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