Today we’re making our way west to Kutaisi. Another unknown city. Another place people have over time decided that they can’t be bothered to walk any further and just built a house.. or two.. that turns into a village, a town, a city. Same the world over.
I go on a hostess hunt for breakfast but she’s nowhere to be seen. Eventually someone raises her from her bed and she looks like death. Apparently the Russian border was closed for a while last night and people were arriving at all hours. I’m sure I saw sleep dust floating in my coffee, but I’ll try anything once ..
The queues of trucks we saw yesterday continue here. Probably another 50km of them all the way towards Tbilisi. Christ only knows what it’s like there right now.
First stop is Gori. There is a Stalin museum here. He was born in Georgia but decided there weren’t enough people to persecute so he crossed the border for a much bigger audience. I think its generally agreed he was reasonably successful at it. Going round the place its just amazing how a single bag of bones with a brain and a moustache can get to cause just some much pain.
We’re going to take a bit of a loop to Kutaisi. We’re all aware we’re homeward bound and we just want to gorge ourselves on gorges and get high on hills where ever we can. Turn off and for a few miles it doesn’t look like a good decision.
But soon enough the roads begin to rise, the surfaces begin to smooth and the smiles begin to widen. Unlike these poor bastards I saw trying to revive the worlds oldest combine. Believe it or not this thing could actually move. I can imagine any wheat that came out of it was 90% ferrous though.
Stop for lunch at a new enterprise in a small town. Looks about 100 years newer than everything else and even has air conditioning. The chiller has some odd looking bottles containing stuff that Geoffrey Darmer might be familiar with, but like I said, I’ll try anything once.
We get about 200m down the road and there is the sound of sirens. They’ve obviously clocked us at the bar and they have their breath test equipment out. Just the think when you’ve just necked a pint of unknown liquid. I really hope that it was someones bodily fluids rather than vodka.
The roads and the weather both start to deteriorate as we get closer. Setting the mood and the atmosphere for the town. Getting ready to give us our first impressions. As we get closer we go over a small pass with a shitty road, and a gas main pipe that doubles as a crash barrier.
We’re rarely staying in the most expensive hotels in town so quite frequently its like arriving at the spotty, hairy arse end of the place rather than the pretty face. Today I reckon we’re somewhere round the navel. Its a mix of good and bad, but they seem to have specially arranged perfect imitation of our best English drizzle. Its getting dark and we’re hunting for the hotel with eyes half open and full of water. By the time we’ve seen it we’re passed it. The city has a big one way system and its busy and blocked. But that never stopped us before. Using the ‘its always easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission’ principle we just turn round and ride against the traffic, round the tables and chairs of the restaurant under the hotel and into the sanctuary of a semi derelict building to park.
The hotel is still being finished but the host is a big happy round lady with a smile that touches both ears and who disarms me with her charm within 5 seconds. I’m very quick to judge. Its not always a good thing and I’m not always right but I can’t waste my life giving tossers a second chance. My twatometer is pretty accurate and will usually tell me if someone is worth the effort within that first few seconds. This lady is one of the good ones. She’s struggling with the language a bit but she’s laughing and seems genuine. The whole place smells of paint and various fixtures and fittings are laying about on the floor some way away from where they should be, and the front door is being fitted, but she’s just trying her best to start a business. Its warm and clean and dry. It’s more than enough.
I go out on an ATM hunt. At first I take a wrong turn and head down to the hairy arse end of town where the bins stink, the roads are collapsing and some of the potholes are so deep that they have to employ very tall people to stand in them holding flags.
But turn round and the town quickly improves. Its a big place. Lots of people about and a nice friendly atmosphere.
I thought this one was naked for a moment..
I get down to the river and spend a while just people watching. This really couldn’t be anywhere else in the world. Eastern Europe .. where red hair colouring comes to dye.
A dinner of dumplings is followed by a dark and drizzly finale to another lovely day. I like Georgia, I really do.
We’ve got an extra day or two to fill that we expected to spend in Azerbaijan so we decided to spend another night here and do a big loop to the north. We punch a few random waypoints into the satnavs and go out to play the landscape lottery. A lottery where every player seems to be a winner. But first, breakfast. The kitchen isn’t finished so its a big picnic in our room for a change.
We head up into the mountains again, going through all the many twists and turns of today’s story until we reach a tiny village at a junction. A row of three small shops. There is a small bar come baker and I try to get some coffees from a nana busy making flatbread. She dusts off an old jar of instant and puts some warm water in it. I go into one of the two tiny shops to try and buy some milk and there at the back in the dark is a young girl sitting under the 50% stocked wooden shelves. She’s a pretty girl and her smile lights up the whole room. I doubt she sees many people here, just spending her day waiting. What sort of life is that? She will probable spend her whole life doing this. I’ll ride away in a few minutes, filling my brain with more adventures and experiences and she’ll just wait.. Life is definitely not fair. Still, I ask her to sign my helmet, and her mum too. I hope I’m wrong. I hope she’s just visiting her parents. I hope she has a set of leathers and a 1000GSXR parked round the back that she will drive on its back wheel back to civilisation this evening.
The further north we go the more desolate and abandoned it seems to get. Still desperate for a coffee we slowly cruise through looking for signs of life and finding very few. A small shop is open and as I approach there is a fat old bloke sitting on a stool outside doing some proper professional man spreading. Balls trying to bust out and getting heated by a full on fart as I walk by. Ok then ..
While the others head out I turn around and ride back to what looks like an abandoned train station. I ride in and right up onto the platform to be met by a load of blokes busy doing nothing, probably waiting for a ghost train.
Fuck I love these places .. I love this places about as much as the locals hate them I’m sure. I don’t suppose there are a lot of options round here though.
Out of town there is a big thick blanket of mist. I wonder if it’s hiding what’s in front, or what I’ve just gone through. Its bloody cold for a while and bloody difficult riding too. But suddenly we pop through and into yet more prizes on the landscape lottery. More steep and tight roads with views hammered onto your senses with 6 inch nails. Gorges, lakes, black tarmac snakes laid purely for motorcycle fun and enjoyment. I remember speaking to Brian before we left. Georgia was on his wish list and he was quite excited to be coming here. Well I for one am bloody glad we did. What do you reckon old mate?