Left around 8am. The road’s surface switched back and forth between muddy track, cobbly stones, and freshly paved every couple of kilometers. And it climbed.
Had a short break after 20km and when I turned around – I saw a touring cyclist! Alexander from Switzerland, on his way to Mestia. He’d started his trip in Istanbul and is on a tour around Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. We cycled on together. Small world: Alex is the Swiss cyclist who the Polish guy had told me about back in Batumi.
Beautiful vistas along the road. The first snow-covered peaks in the distance. Deep gorges. Beautifully situated villages. Great weather.
And: the first Svan defensive towers! Impressive, amazing, old. Some of them have been built between the 9th and 13th century AD. As you may remember, these towers where one of the main reasons why I’m on this trip.
We finally arrived in Mestia. Took us some time to find a welcoming homestay (I wouldn’t recommend the one that was recommended to me), but we ended up in a lovely farmstead – and they have their own Svan tower in the backyard!
The Russian border is just 10km to the north.
Mestia’s roads are a catasprophe in its own right. Whatever type of bad road I’ve seen on the 140km from Zugdidi to here – it is also represented within the single kilometer or so of Mestia’s main street. Whatever type of good road I’ve seen – it is not here. Contrary to what I would have expected, there’s a Toyota Eclipse (a kind of sports car) driving around and women proudly take their high heels out for a walk in the mud. :)
Cycled: 62km, which took me almost 6 hours of net riding time! (Including about 2km just inside Mestia – we now know the main street like we’ve been living here for years!)