We woke up some in our tent other in the van, all of us not really bursting with energy but at least we soon knew the van is going to be fixed on the same day.
Dzengis came over in the morning and took a look together with the Fiat mechanics but the only solution was to change the whole clutch. While our van was being fixed we went for a swim in the Black sea, the water was quite warm but was as refreshing as ever compared to the sun on the beach. We threw around a frisbee (until losing it underwater) and read magazines/books so the time would move faster. Around noon we went for lunch to Kebabistan 2 again and once again it was delicious. Soon after we arrived they told us the van will be finished by 15:00 so we started to prepare for leaving and were surprised by some tea (cay) which the head of service brought us.
The head of mechanics at Fiat
Once we paid for the new clutch and said bye to everyone we were high on energy and driving towards the Georgian border was fun and loud :). Arriving at the border was a whole new adventure, coming out of the tunnel a policeman said we need to go back via another road where there was a long line of cars and vans waiting to cross. We took the last spot in line just behind a “Samand” car with an Iranian licence plate. The 4 Iranian guys inside came out immediately and we soon became friends taking photos with each other and they brought us some delicious nuts and an amazing sweets with pistachio.
We were low on diesel as the prices are really high in Turkey (around 1.80euro per liter) so we waited to come into Georgia to fill up the tank, as we didn’t know how much more we have left (our van shows no info after it’s less than 50km until the tank is empty). Because of this we pushed the car in neutral when the line moved (it moved for about 10 cars every 5 minutes), and soon a lot of other cars in the line did the same, we helped the Iranians they helped us and we all had a lot of fun listening to their music, exchanging information etc.
Once we came nearer to the border we got the idea why the line is so long. The turkish customs were working in only one line and their work process was slow as ever. After clearing the Turkish border we moved on towards the Georgian gate and they started to shout at us to stop. We didn’t know what is happening but after a couple of seconds we realized that only the driver stays in the car while others have to walk through a special crossing that runs parallel. The Georgian side is completely new and quite nice, the officers were friendly and finally WE WERE IN GEORGIA.
The border at Sarpi
Driving towards Batumi was quite bumpy as the road has a lot of holes, dents and cows running around. We soon found a petrol station where we filled up the tank. Afterwards we went in search for the hostel. We tried to find Boombully hostel which is mentioned in Lonely planet but i guess they mixed something up as we were at the adress where it is supposed to be and the telephone number was not working. So we drove around town and got to experience the bad driving of Georgians, the first impressions of it are quite bad. We asked people for hostels using our basic knowledge of russian mixed with serbocroatian and some nice girls told us of a street where there is one (Mazniashvili street). At first we couldn’t find it so i jumped out of the car and asked some guys to show us the way – one of them took it literally and took me into his car while the others drove behind us. Soon after we found Globus Hostel Batumi (https://www.facebook.com/HostelBatumiGlobus), which is really nice and the staff are amazing with their help and kindness.
We made our beds and went to buy some beers, we were soon more happy with the prices than in Turkey as beer was around 80 cents in a small private shop. Other prices were much lower as well, a part of our group were almost ecstatic when they saw a packet of cigarettes costs about 1 euro. We chilled at the backyard of our hostel and met two guys who are cycling to Iran, one of them was from Varazdin in Croatia, so basically our neighbor, we talked until around 1AM, when some of the guys went out to find a party and others went to sleep.
We woke up really late (around noon) as we haven’t had proper sleep for a couple of days. We soon went out of the hostel and found a nice place with khacapuri(a georgian pie usually filled with cheese), we each ordered our own and as the pies started to come to the table we discovered that the size of portions in Georgia truly is huge. We couldn’t eat the whole thing so took some with us for later.
We walked around town for a couple of hours checking out newly built parks the renovated boulevard and the beach. These parts are kept very clean and new hotels and buildings are being built around here. On the other hand you have old apartments blocks that stayed the same from the soviet era and are in really bad state.
Posing near the “Batumi boulevard”
After arriving back to the hostel we still didn’t manage to overcome the fullness from the khacapuri so we just laid on the couches and Nejc somehow managed to arrange the stream for the Tour de France, i never tought i’d be watching it here, and it was even more delightful cause one of the Slovenian riders was doing quite well.
Later in the evening we met a cool german-australian couple who are cycling from Germany to Australia, we talked for quite some time and after meeting all of these cyclists i’m slowly getting really fond of the idea of cycling as you realize how small the world really is. Later on a german guy called Sven joined us, he is hitchhiking across the caucasus and gave us some advice on Armenia and told us of his adventures in Nagorno-Karabakh.
After drinking some Georgian vodka we had a late night snack in the supermarket and then off to bed.
We used our last day to go to the beach, we drove a few kilometers south towards the border at Sarpi. The beach was nice and the water was very clean, we had some fun in the water, chilled and got sunburnt on the beach.
In the evening we decided to go for a typical Georgian meal, Sven also joined us. We had a lot of food everything from salads, saslik, pork and patatoes, a goulash like dish, and everything was delicious although maybe a bit too salty. Our dinner in Batumi
We paid about 8 euro each and couldn’t finish everything that was served. In the evening we met a polish guy at the hostel who was a ex-yugoslavia nostalgic and knew serbocroatian, so we talked for a bit. Later some of the guys went out to party while i opted for bed – according to their report of the kind of clubs which are around Batumi it was a wise decision.