I wanted to make it to Tbilisi in one day, I expected about 120 kilometers of more or less flat roads. At 8h45 I jumped in the saddle after eating my 0,5 euro Khachapuri breakfast in mere seconds. It was cold at this time of the day and my breath condensed to my hairy face, making an nice 'ice beard'. Before I knew a thick fog blurred my vision and I couldn’t see more than twenty meters ahead of me. I continued, staying at the right side of the road, and the amount of pressure I had to put on my legs learned me that I was wrong about flat roads. I was going uphill again.
The advantage was that the fog disappeared quickly, and halfway up a shopkeeper gestured me over.
Shopkeeper says something Russian and points at me. “Belgia” I answered. “Georgia, Belgia” Shopkeeper makes hand sign for “the same” (he brought his index fingers together and rubbed them, keeping other fingers closed in a fist) The shopkeeper started filling a bag with all kinds of fruits and handed it over, not expecting any money. Shopkeeper knocks on his chest “Me Shota. You?” “Stef” “You sivak?” asks if I’m cold... “Yes.” I lied, but my feet were cold and could use a warm stove “Come, Chacha” points at my beard and grabs a piece of ice “Hahaha”
Three coffeemugs of chacha later I was ready to go and put on my music. Instantly the song Georgia on my mind played on my phone, two times, without me interfering. As if it was reading my mind.
Close to Tbilisi I saw four, obviously not sober men, crawling out of a car for a quick toilet stop. I honked my horn and cheered at them. They answered with raised arms and a load “Hurraaaay!” They caught me 100 meters further and in the middle of the highway they braked and opened their car window: “Hello my friend, where are you from and how can we help you?” Motivated by the loud horns of the truck drivers and other vehicles, the driver decided it was safer to park on the emergency lane. Luckily the driver wasn’t drinking today. The 4 guys came out and greeted me with a beer and some khachapuri, all they had to offer today. I accepted this with open arms and gave them a hug before I took off to Tbilisi. We exchanged contact info and maybe I’ll see them again when I get there. Thank you guys, your support was very welcome to make the complete 136 kilometers today!
Ancient forts and monasteries on the top of the hills made for an epic view whilst I was nearing the country’s metropole. I met Oli and Yuri in the hostel where they were trying to conquer their hangovers, but we moved across the street to the Limelight hostel to install ourselves, as there was no place in the other one. Then I hauled a cab to bring me to Anton to greet Nicole, our long lost American friend. The pair had been riding around to explore Tbilisi all day with Nicole cheering on Anton while standing on the back rack of his bicycle. it’s good to see you again girl!