While stef and oli accepted a Russian invitation to a ski trip, Yuri and Anton held the fort in Tblisi. Residing in a city for more than a week gave us a feeling of overcivilisation, so we followed our noses, which led us to the Tbilisi zoo. It seemed as if we were on the wrong side of the bars, and we wished we could set free the animals that were forced to pace their small cages nervously.
The next morning we received a message from Arezoo, an Iranian lady we met at our favorite traditional Georgian restaurant. She requested our companionship for a cultural day out, eager to learn about the Christian religion. We told her every bible verse we knew, and even added some that sounded plausible. In return Arezoo graced us with her singing voice in every church we visited. We caught wind of a country just beyond the mountains where the water flows like wine, and off we were. But first we paid a visit to the old arcade, where we spent every Wendy's coin we ever made. 20 kilometers into the vast nothingness that is Georgia's countryside, Yuri realized he left his passport at the hostel. A quick taxi ride there and back solved our administrative problems swiftly and by nightfall we were sitting in the warm glow of natures television crackling in front of us. The next day mountains were on the menu, so we made sure we brunched extensively with King khalis.
We found a strip of rainbow pills on the way, and as we cycled through another sunlit day, we tried to figure out their effects. Yuri took a brown one, Anton a blue one and we both took a green one because we were feeling lucky. Right before starting the final ascent to the Armenian border, a crystal clear mountain river found its way through a thick layer of snow. Being spoiled by the blazing sun, cloudless skies and windless plains, we left our clothes on the icy riverbank for the first cold swim of 2017.
We started to go up to the 1600m high border as the sun faded behind the mountaintops. The roads near the border were ill maintained, and the temperature dropped as a headwind started picking up. Luckily a police patrol gave us and our bicycles a lift in their truck and dropped us right in front of the Armenian border. The next hour of nightcycling was spent looking for an abandoned building to rest our heads in, and we picked a beauty of what used to be a mansion.
We crossed the plateau the next day, fascinated by the endless white plains all around us , hoping we’d reach the downhill and leave the mountains before nightfall. This was vain hope, and we spent another night in our warm sleeping bags while the mercury dropped below -8°C. On our final stage towards Yerevan we climbed to 2034m and faced 50km of headwinds before receiving a bottle of vodka from a pastor to reheat our cores. He posed as St. Nicholas and slipped us some candy before showing us his church and wishing us a good journey. Finally, after 3 days of waiting and expecting the downhill, it came. We could see we had been above the clouds this whole time, and started our 20 km descent into the misty frozen valley that holds Yerevan. Our beards soon were completely frozen and by the time we arrived at the hostel our fingers and toes were too numb to even notice it was freezing -10°C.