April 14th, 2015 was the day we left our hometown Thessaloniki, Hellas (GR) to chase our dreams. Aiming to visit Georgia, we firstly had to cross Turkey.
Thessaloniki - Bursa (Turkey). After 680 km and 8+ hours riding, everything felt like in slow motion.
Bursa, Turkey. This day's goal was to reach Sivas, located at the eastern part of the Central Anatolia region. I red somewhere that the route of the Silk Road and the Persian Royal Road run through Sivas. For us it seemed quite hard, as we had to cover 880km of not preserved asphalt on D200 road. Anyway, daydreaming combined with few hours sleep just made it worse.
Left Sivas (Sevastea),Turkey and heading to Batumi, Georgia. When i ride i always listen to music, usually old punk and rock n roll stuff. Turning right, left, changing gears, breaking and accelerating, my mind and body is getting in the "auto" mode and everything happens like i have no control of it. I remember only thinking about that we were not born just to pay f* taxes and then die. .
Remember to breathe..
On the way from Batumi to Mestia, Georgia. The road up the Greater Caucasus mt. that leads to Mestia, offers many opportunities for some offroad on abandoned ex-soviet military roads.
First impression of Mestia, a village in the heart of Caucasus in Georgia. Mestia is the administrative capital of Svaneti, at an altitude of 1400m with old buildings and typical Svan towers mixed in among drabber Soviet-era structures.
Svaneti. Impossibly wild, mysterious and beautiful. An ancient land hidden in the Greater Caucasus, so remote that it has never been tamed by any ruler. Even during the soviet period it largely retained its traditional way of life.
Mestia. Walking among the Svan towers. Time stands still.
Left Mestia and Svaneti region with best memories ever and a promise to return. Now we have to choose which road to take: Armenia or Azerbaijan?
We decided to stay in Georgia and go north, up to russian borders on Caucasus mountain. There is the 《Georgian Military Road》, part of the E117 road. It surely is a highlight to any trip to Georgia, and one of South Caucasus' most scenic roads, steeped in trade, wars and legends. This ancient passage across the Caucasus towards Vladikavkaz in Russia is a spectacular adventure. The road is 198km long and runs between Tbilisi (capital city of Georgia) and Vladikavkaz (in the North Ossetia region, in Russia) across the Great Caucasus Range. It follows the traditional route used by invaders and traders throughout the ages.
On the way to Kazbegi, at some point there is no road, so you are free to choose: mud, gravel, rivers.. My kidney just peel off its position.
Eleven (11) km north of Kazbegi and along the Tergi river, we reached the spectacular Dariali Gorge. Much of it is across the Russian border, but as we lacked of visas we were turned away by border police. At least we saw the two flags (Russian and Georgian) to wave side by side.
Views over Tbilisi. After a long day, riding under heavy rain, we rest to the fascinating old city. "Kartlis Deda" (Mother Georgia), the 20m aluminium statue that dominates the Narikala hill, holds a sword and a cup of wine. It happens to be a perfect metaphor for the Georgian character, both welcoming and proud.
Tsminda Sameba is Georgia's symbol for post-soviet religious revival. Unmissable landmark by day or night.
Got to leave Tbilisi and take the road back home. We passed the area near Tsalka lakes under freezing temperatures, visited Vardzia caves and head to Batumi again.
I ride my BMW r1200 gs from 2005.. this is the exact place where i had my first "hard forced landing". Thank god only thing broke was my pride.
After Vardzia on our way to Batumi , is Borjomi. Back in 1829 some soldiers discovered a mineral spring here and since then Borjomi was developed as a resort until the Soviet Era. After the Soviet collapse the city was left to its own fate..
After a long rainy day on the road, we finally reached to Batumi. The city is full of futuristic buildings, parks and ferris wheel, but this Stealth Bomber-like McDonalds & gas station really got my eye.
Got to leave Batumi, exit Adjara and Georgia. This day's goal was to enter Turkey and head as far in the mainland as possible. Here is the statue of Neptune situated in the most central place and in front of Batumi Drama Theater. It is a copy of the Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza del Nettuno in the town of Bologna in Italy, indicating the city's wealth and development.
Riding by the Black Sea, we spent a night in Samsun. Finally we made it to Istanbul, just before the sunset. Last day of our trip, we were happy that we would soon be home, but at the same time sad because this roadtrip almost came to its end.