Dienstag, 30. Juli 2013

Day 42 – 44: somewhere behind Batumi - Mestia

We decided to spend some days in Svanetia, a valley of the Kaukasus on the Russian border and selected as UNESCO world heritage, before then heading to Tbilisi on Friday. Distances in Georgia are fortunately not comparable to distances in Turkey so we were optimistic to soon get to the main mountaineering trailhead of Svanetia, the village Mestia. 

We packed our stuff in pouring rain (all four of us were not unhappy about some fresh and cool air to thooth the little pressure behind our eyes). While we stopped at several gas stations, trying to find a map of Georgia larger than postcard size, the rain got heavier and heavier and soon the streets were under water. The cows aside of the roads had to stop eating to catch some air from time to time.
Orthodox church in downtown Poti.

Deep puddles aside the road...

And on the road.

Trying to find a map.

Our guidebook said: "the main traffic problem is caused by cattle". This time, the cows decided to stay on the side.

The two bikers initially wanted to get off at the road leading to Tiblisi, but the dark clouds over us and ankle-deep puddles in the street made them change their mind. We planned to drive up to the mountains, and the two happily accepted our offered lift to escape the torrents. Up through georgious georgian landscape and past a huge dam, we found a place to stay for the night on a plateau near a small waterfall.
The next day again started with some driving until we reached Mestia.

One half of the village looked as if it was build within the last 2 years, all new nicely built stone houses but all empty. We wandered around a bit, went to the tourist office (english speaking, but did not get any information) and looked for some food.

At the restaurant, as soon as we sat down at a table next to a bunch of soldiers the waitress turned up the volume of the music and we listended to Tina Turner and some Georgian and Russian smash hits until our ears rang again.

The food was again georgious! We had two different Kadjapuris (Georgian Cheese Pizza, as Gia had explained us), kingalis (dough pockets filled with meat and brew) Kortane (a bean stew), Adjabsandali (pickled vegetables) and eggplant with walnut topping. Mudseli!

Well fed (once again!) we started our biking tour for the afternoon. We wanted to go up to a glacier at the end of a small side valley and decided to go by bike as far as possible.

still with Kalimero, the way into the Glacier valley.

But then switching to 1-wheel drive.

On the way, the Georgian soldiers pointed the way with a certain smile, telling us with hand-signs that is would not be what they perceive as a perfect bikepath.

Well, we considered it a very nice trail, but several Georgians intruingingly tried to convince us that is was absolutely impossible to go on, pushing or carrying the bikes. After about half an hour more, we partially agreed and left our bikes – only David carried on for about 20 more minutes before we reached the glacier.

A Georgian, not seeing the point in David's bike carrying. So, he offered him a beer. Georgian hospitality.

Just for the photo... and it IS possible to go to the glacier with the bike.

There, we met some Georgians with flipflops and t-shirts, lighting a fire in a windproof spot behind a huge glacial rock. They brought several of the 2L-beer-bottles and even glasses, and their Georgian hospitality made them invite us to at least one glass of Kazbegi beer. We stayed with them for a while, it turned out they were construction workers in Mestia village, building a new orthodox church. On their day off, they decided to go to the glacier...

The guy with the yellow cap was incredible happy that we could translate the slogan on his cap - "Steurer und Sohn Eisenmarkt".
We had a hard time to get going but after inviting our host to our campsite in turn, we finally managed to ride down the near-perfect trail the Georgian hikers had warned us about. 

Back at the car, we enjoyed some duty-free Raki with glacier ice, before a car turned over – the construction workers, ready to continue the supra. It should get midnight and need a 2L-bottle of dangerous homemade Chacha before we finally were able to go to bed. As nice as Georgians are, their alcohol consumption at supras does not work well with the sporty schedule we intended to have.

With a certain hangover by the Chacha, it was noon before the austrians departed, and we decided to stay in this beautiful place for another night.

Georgian cowbell.

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