Stef and Oli left Georgia’s capital on the 8th, two days later. The duo dunked a couple of donuts and followed the river to the south, loaded with an oversized three liter jug of Georgia’s finest red wine. Shota, our local contact via a friend at home, was so kind to present us this home made wine as an (Orthodox) Christmas gift.
We decided not to stop until we felt that civilization was far enough behind us. The low sun, clear blue sky and a meadow with dozens of grazing sheep was the perfect setting for our mid-day wine & dine. Shota’s brew proved to be an excellent one indeed. Merely 10 kilometers after our break we had to pull our brakes again, as some locals at a gas station called us over. “Here we go again!” Oli announced, as we made a U-turn to meet Giorgi and his friends, who welcomed us with more food and wine.
As we learned at David’s place two weeks ago, Georgians toast a lot and drink full glasses only, so after a few glasses we politely tried to explain in our best sign language that we can not drink too much when we are cycling. They waved this away and answered that our cycling day was over, and we will sleep in Giorgi’s mansion around the corner tonight. We looked at each other and agreed: “Let’s have it then!”
At Giorgi’s castle we lunched on his patio, and were treated like kings. The table was overloaded with Georgian delicacies, sweet wine and champagne. After a final toast in the traditional drinking horn, the banquet was over, so we enjoyed the idyllic sunset behind the mountains before our hosts granted us their royal, king-sized bed.
We followed the same route as our companions and when entering Armenia, we were left in awe by what nature presented us. The Armenian highland is truly breathtaking. The undisputed highlight of this route was the mountain pass to the Armenian Plateau at 2000 meters above sea level. The landscape here was completely white, adding an arctic feel to our final cycling day.
As Anton and Yuri advised, we dressed warm for this final stage, prepared to cycle down to the Ararat Valley in temperatures well below freezing point. We only briefly stopped at a Brandy factory along the way for a liquid heat booster. Needless to say we also brought some of this liquid gold to our new home, one bottle to celebrate our reunion, and a second to welcome Yuri’s parents in Yerevan.
Lastly we’d like to thank Nicolai, a Russian we met on our first day in this new country, for the warm welcome in Armenia, the short history lesson and warning us for the wild wolves roaming the highlands after nightfall.