For more than a year I have been dreaming of doing a cycling trip around the Black Sea. Unfortunately, the political situation in the North Caucasus has been unstable for a long time and is still far from being calm and safe for independent travel. Nowadays the border between Georgia and Russia appears to be open again, but the Russian Autonomous Republics of North Ossetia (where the border crossing is located on the Russian side) and Ingushetia nearby are said to be not safe. Chechnya is just around the corner, too. So, at least currently, it seems not wise to entirely circle the Black Sea.
After changing plans a couple of times, I’m now attempting a trip that takes in the countries south of the Greater Caucasus, namely Georgia, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran, and involves a lot of cycling but also some trekking.
A visa for Iran has been arranged and I will pick it up here in Budapest in the next days. I was unable to contact the Azerbaijani embassy in Berlin so I will have to try and apply for a visa for Azerbaijan either in Kars, Turkey or Tbilisi, Georgia.
The first leg of the tour is done by train. I arrived in Budapest tonight where I am staying with my brother and his family. From here it’s a 1200+ km bike ride to Varna at the Bulgarian Black Sea coast from where I’ll catch a ferry to Georgia on May 31st – if I manage to secure the Iranian visa within 2 days.
From Poti, Georgia, where the boat will drop me off, I have a rough idea of where to go and what to do and see, but it will all depend on mood, stars, visa, weather, wind, people, countryside, and last but not least the political situation in those countries.
I had pretty much exactly 3 and a half months of time for this trip. However, a couple of things have changed and it is now more or less open-ended. It’s unlikely to last much more than 4 months, though.
Well, first I have to get there…