Homeward bound

While thats a night I won’t forget in a hurry.   Not because of the princess, but because the bed was harder than a whore’s heart.

We get an early breakfast and head north out of Armenia.  We want to cross as close as possible to the Georgia/Azerbaijan border and try our luck at getting in.  I’m not hopeful but you never know until you try.

So .. exit Armenia

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And meet some Russians going the other way.  A young bloke and his pert girlfriend.  I wonder if they’re still there, or if he is presently cowering in a ditch somewhere, or worse, permanently holding his breath inside a black plastic bag.  You pass people all the time, never knowing what fate will decide your future is.

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Arrive at the Azerbaijan border and its obviously open, but the queue of ‘none’ seems to indicate that entry is by invitation only.


We park up in the sun and start heading for the booths when a very pretty young woman in a very snug and perfectly fitted uniform chassés gracefully over .. it was worth the ride here just to watch her TBH.  She has obviously managed to switch five men into basic instinct mode as we all stand on our back legs, front paws in the air, waiting for instruction.  She takes our passports, our visas, and absolutely anything else she wants and chassés back to her booth to fax the Azerbaijanis our details, just on the off chance that they’ve forgotten the border is closed to tourists and they feel like making an exception for 5 salivating man-dogs waiting at the border with their tongues hanging out.

But they don’t.  They wont let anyone in without special permission. Bollocks.

I didn’t know where we would be tonight so I didn’t book anything for today.   Hopefully fate will be kind.  It’s quite early so we’ll go on a hunt.  I could stop somewhere to find somewhere on the web but I can feel the force is with me today.  Either that or I’ve got the shits coming on.

Tbilisi is hot and tight.  The hotel we’re heading for is in the old town.  The old town clings desperately to a steep hill and its a fractious ride but as luck would have it they have just 3 rooms left and we’re in at the first attempt.

I stayed in this area before and I like it.  I like cities with trees and shade.  I like the light and shadow.  I like the cool and the heat.  I like the ups and the downs.  I like Tbilisi a lot.

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We’re having a day off here so instead of a nice sleep in a couple of us decide to get up early and visit Kartlis Deda (mother Georgia) before she has a chance to put her makeup on.  We wind our way up a set of steep stairs, head down, heart rate up.  We hear chants and gentle bells from a small church on the way up.  Step inside and there is a single shaft of morning light that picks out a young priest in the darkness as he kisses a deity on a painting .  A perfect image.  A memory stamp.  A fraction of a second where everything comes together perfectly.  It’s something impossible to recreate.  A tingle, a shiver, and then it’s gone.

Up up up we go, and there she is.  Shiny, pert and proud reflecting morning sunlight in all directions.

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However early you think you are there are always people there before you just watching the world go by. Another soul sharing eye contact just for a moment.  Point to the camera, a smile, a nod, a snap, a thank you and goodbyeIMG_10540

Then back to the daily grind .. ummm.. I wonder what the ‘more’ is.

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Looks like the traffic likes to play bumper cars round here too so we’ll have to take care.  Everywhere you look you see cars without any front and/or rear bodywork.

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Someone has recommended we go and eat in the sewing district which is a good 30 minute walk  down and across the river.   Its supposed to be the ‘happening’ up and coming area, but I get 10 minutes in and think this place must be a lot more interesting.


And catch a pavement perv taking pictures of the local talent.


We get to the sewing district and it seems our passes expired about 30 years ago.  Yooffs everywhere and the air thick with the sweet smell of ripe tottie and drugs, but not the smell of cooking meat.  Roasted daffodil and dill risotto isn’t going to even make a tiny dent in our appetites so we take one last inhale and leave.

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Go to get a taxi, and a Covid test ..


The taxi driver is a Turk.  A big ball of hair with hams of hands dwarfing the steering wheel.  We’re only with him for 10 minutes but still have time to learn he’s been married 3 times and he’s divorcing his current wife because she’s an angel in the kitchen  but refuses to be a whore in the bedroom like his previous wives, which is nice.

Last time I was here we rode north to Russia and that door is currently closed but we decide we might just go and knock on it and run away to see what happens.  We’re trying to get some local information about some of the other roads we want to try so we spread a map on a table in the hotel, chuck in some GPSs, and men are drawn in like moths to a flame.

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We’re quite a way from the roads we’re asking about but the general consensus seems to be that one is ok, and the other is currently a complete shit fest.  Perfect. I better get some more signatures ASAP in case they have to identify my body by my helmet.


We decide to take the long road through a national park.  Even the normal roads round here are twisty but the morning is like riding up a coiled spring. A greased coiled spring.  Morning dampness and cow shit covered roads makes it a slow and fractious ride.

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By the time we get to the main road there is a massive cake size hole in my stomach that needs immediate attention.  I guess we’ll just have to sit on this balcony overlooking this beautiful lake and have coffee and crepes.

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We’re headed north to try and see the Gergeti Trinity Church which is perched up in the mountains near the border. Get to the car park and its full of 4×4 vans taking passengers up.  The road is out apparently, probably a landslide. So we decide to follow the vans up the alternative rough road.  I carry a huge set of balls in my panniers that I can retro fit for special occasions and I put them on this  morning because I suspected we could have trouble up here.   These balls are made of steel and are 30cm diameter.  I have to put them on my knees when I ride they’re so big.  But they’re still not big enough for today.  The rough road is all very big loose stones and its so steep that stopping isn’t an option.  It’s not an option but with all the loons in their vans on the road its sometimes unavoidable.  And when you stop, you put the brakes on, and you just skid backwards out of control.   We soon decide discretion is the better part of valour head back down to the security of the black stuff.   I’ll leave the church until the next time.

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The border is only a few miles north of here so we decide to go up for a look.  Shout “Boo” at the Russians.  The last section is cut into the mountainside and is an absolute bitch. A slow dangerous crawl in the company of hot trucks and lunatic drivers willing to risk life and limb for a 10 second advantage at the border.  We barrel into a big dark tunnel and get a quick flash from a truck coming the other way.  The tunnel is full of horses.. of course it is..

The border isn’t that busy when we get there and we see why on the way back.  There are queues of lorries along the side of the road and they’re being managed in groups.  When I say queues… I mean 40 km of parked trucks .. I’ve never seen anything like it.

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The ride back is truly spectacular.  Its up there with the very best.

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There was only a choice of one hotel tonight, somewhere along the road back towards Tbilisi.   A hotel passed by by every decorator since sometime in the 1970s but it’s welcoming and its clean and it serves fresh trout.  In fact the trout pool is so close to the barbecue they could jump straight on if they really wanted to.

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Another night, and the same old routine from the same set of bags.  A sight familiar to bikers the word over.  I love the wear and tear on my kit.  I love all the memories etched onto it in scars and scratches.  I love the worn zips and buckles, the familiarity and feel that means you could do it all with your eyes closed.  I love opening my eyes in the darkness and those first few seconds working out where I am.  I just love life on the road.  Any road.

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