In and out of Georgia

- "Kutaisi!", my friend Maciej exclaimed!

Is this some kind of Polish expletive, I wondered.

Sofia and I were having some drinks with our friends Anna and Maciej in the city of Batumi, Georgia, discussing flying home to family and friends for Christmas.

- "We are flying back home from Kutaisi!", Maciej continued. "20 Euros for a ticket!"

I had never heard of this town. That is not unusual, but we had been looking for cheap flights from Georgia and had completely missed this international Airport. Flying from the capital of Tbilisi was at least a 150 Euros. Kutaisi sounded like a much better plan.

The week before we had been cycling along the Black Sea coast in Turkey. While the weather was good the traffic was stressful, and we had to cycle through a lot of scary tunnels with little space left for bicycles. We wanted to get to Georgia as quickly as possible.

Somewhere along the coast. 

One of many tunnels. 

Eventually we got to the border, after passing several kilometers of trucks waiting for inspection. Finally, after having my bags, but not Sofias, thoroughly x-rayed we were in a new country.

Trucks patiently queuing. 

Border station. 

We cycled the few kilometers of roadway into Batumi where a sea-front bicycle path gave us an opportunity to actually enjoy the ride instead of worrying about becoming a statistic in a traffic accident. 

The Batumi skyline is unique and spectacular, but what stood out compared to Turkey was the existence of beach bars! We had plenty of time before we were supposed to meet our landlady so we stopped and had a beer. 

Riding into Batumi. 

A bar! 

When finished drinking we checked our clocks to see if we could fit one more beer in. Suddenly it dawned on us; what time is it really? 

Of course the time zone had changed and instead of being 40 minutes early we were 20 minutes late. We quickly paid and sprinted the short distance to the adress given. It was a big apartment building with no obvious entrance matching the description.

A short guy in a yellow vest told us to follow him into the courtyard of the building. He looked determined but didn't speak English. Inside the yard he wandered around pretending to know what he was doing and I was pretty sure he was trying to con us somehow.

A group of teenagers was hanging around and asked what was going on, in fluent English. Being very helpful, they called the landlady and apologized for what they claimed was "embarrassing post-Soviet inefficiency". 

Having got the key to the apartment, located four floors up and no elevator, the guy in the yellow vest insisted on carrying our bags up the stairs. He first tried to lift the entire setup, bike and all, despite my angry protests. It was obvious he would fail, as tiny as he was, but he tried hard to pull in all the wrong ways, risking damaging my bike. At last I yelled loud enough for him to pause and I removed the bags from the bike, and he grabbed them. I carried the bikes to the apartment and when done, he wanted money. Obviously. It was not at all surprising, but it's still annoying. I gave him 10 Lari, about 3 Euros, and told him that was good enough for the service provided. I don't think he agreed.

We enjoyed Batumi and stayed for two weeks. The climate was fantastic and even though December was fast approaching the Black Sea was still warm enough for a quick dip. At least it was for us Swedes, there were not a lot of other people in the water.


Old town. 

The beach. 

Moving on towards Kutaisi we learned what cycling was like in Georgia. In eastern Turkey we were chased by dogs once every other day or so, but here it was every five minutes. A lot of time went into stopping and screaming or throwing rocks at a dog or a pack of dogs. In Europe a dog barking at us is usually just pretending to be fearsome, exposed by their wagging tail. In Turkey they got a bit serious but here many of them were exposing their teeth and frothing out of anger. They usually back off but Sofia got a pair of bitemarks in her bags. 

Traffic was another concern. Georgia drivers turned out to be the worst we had encountered, seemingly driving with no regard for anyones safety including their own.

As soon as we left the coast the weather got cold and wet. We had to remind ourselves that we choose to do this of our own volition. 

Like a good summer in Sweden. 


We somehow made it to Kutaisi despite the dogs, the cars and the weather and it turns out to be a rather pleasant town. We spent a week before we stashed the bikes at the hostel we were staying, and took a flight to Sweden for the holidays.

2019 had been a great year, we couldn't wait for 2020!

Kutaisi as seen from our hostel.