Machakhela Valley & Batumi

After saying Good Bye to Zoltán and later Bori, I jumped on the bike for a little ride to the countryside. Left Batumi to the south but soon turned east and rode up in a valley parallel to the Turkish border. Came to a sign showing a rough map of the next valley and a few sights: some historical arch bridges, two fortresses, and an ethnographical museum.

Steep, forrested slopes left and right, but for most of the time the track didn’t climb much, only the last few kilometers were somewhat steep at times. Cows roaming around freely. Saw some of the bridges, but couldn’t find the fortresses.

In what seemed to be the village before the last one, Kokoleti, I stopped and was approached by an older guy. We quickly found the lowest common denominator for communication: Russian. He was curious about my destination. I learned that the place Kokoleti was named after the family living there and I had to admit that I didn’t know them and had no intention of visiting them. I also learned that Kokoleti was just 2 kilometers away, but further up in the mountains, and the track leading there looked like hard work. Furthermore he told me that the ethnographical museum was visible from where we were. Unfortunately, it was on the opposite side of the river, and a bit higher up than we already were.

So I turned around to go back to Batumi. Not much later another guy stopped me. We didn’t find a common language but I understood that he wanted to try my bike! He was too short and neither managed to reach the pedals from the seat nor to ignore the seat and cycle in a standing position. I’m not sure he has ever used a bicycle before.

Returned to Batumi and after a quick shower went to the ‘Espresso Bar Sinatra’ just around the corner from the hostel. Met Natia there, the owner, who’d returned from her studies in Tübingen a month ago and speaks German fluently. She was happy to be able to practice her German and invited me to a glass of wine, which soon turned into a bottle. The best wine I’ve ever tasted, as far as I can remember. From the Alazani Valley, whereever that is. Delicious.
Edit: The Alazani Valley is ‘the center of the Georgian wine industry’, according to Wikipedia, and it’s located in the east of the country. The Alazani river forms part of the Border to Azerbaijan.

Today is one of two total lunar eclipses in 2011, and Georgia is in the part of the world from where it is completely visible. There’s no clouds in the sky and visibility is indeed perfect.

Cycled: 78km

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