Friends of the road – Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia

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Armenia, Azerbaijan, English, Friends of the road, Friends of the road - Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Nederlands

[‘Friends of the road (Vrienden van de weg)’ bestaat enkel in het Engels, excuses hiervoor]

I’d like to dedicate a page to all people who help me on my way to Taiwan.

People who offer me a night stay in their garden, stable, garage or flat. People who offer me a shower, breakfast, some food for the road, home made tidbits, water or a nice chat. People who put effort in showing me the right direction.

People who mean a lot to me.
People I instant like and love.
People who make my journey memorable.
People who deserve a special thank you, bedankt, merci, danke schön, děkuji, dzięki, спасибі, mulțumesc, благодаря, teşekkürler, …
People I call friends.

Thanks a million!

While I started riding the Georgian roads I had some stuff to repair on my bike but didn’t have the right tool. This man helped me out by asking others to find the exact tool I needed. Thanks for helping me kind roadworker #Georgia

Being offered lemon and mandarins from these nice enthusisastic fellows. Renewed energy, grateful #Georgia

It was late afternoon in the little mountain village Riketi that the sun appeared. I quickly dried all my completely wet gear (tent, backpack…). A man (Gela), who spoke little English, came to me and offered a night stay with his family. An hour later I was having a lovely dinner togeether with this super sweet family in their house. Thank you so much Maia, Gela, Londa (16), Lika (11) and Nodika (3) #Georgia

It was in the same house in Riketi the great grandmother Jolie (85, in the middle of the picture), really loved hugging me. She is, for sure, the sweetest elderly lady of. I instantly loved her. #Georgia

These 4 British birdwatchers were very enthousiastic to see me on top of the Goderdzi Pass (2025m). Maybe it was because of the chacha they just tried in a tiny shop/resto nearby, maybe not. They were exploring Borjom-Kharagauli National Park and asked me what I did up there. When they heard about my trientrapt project they were interested to sponsor, asked my name and you know what… The second man at the right said: ‘Pauwels’? Are you family of my Belgian friend Reginald Pauwels, the former CEO of WWF Belgium? Nope, I’m not, but what a coincidence you know another Pauwels, that’s wonderful. And you know what? It’s really a ‘rare’ name in Belgium though 😉 #Georgia

On Goderdzi Pass (2025m) I stopped at this tiny shop/resto. There were just 4 British people leaving and left a lot of food on the table. I asked the lady of the house what kind of egg cake it was. I could taste it and lots of other food too. Finally she offered me a bag full of leftovers for the road. Warm people high up there in the cold mountains of #Georgia

Entering Kutaisi with a bike that needs a shower. A free one, due to these guys. That felt good, not only for my bike #Georgia

Predicted rain did me find an abandoned house for the night. No empty houses without lock (to protect dust, spiders and mices) in this village, so I asked a farmer if I could sleep in his stable. I could. The farmers wife (left) had a better idea, I could spend the night in a former fitness/library building. A visitor passed by… You can read that story on this blogpost: #Georgia

On my way to Ushgulli, the weather was harsh. I just had not such a nice experience with sleeping in an abondoned fitness hall that I decided to stay in this guesthouse. First I had the house all by myself. Later that day Hervé arrived. A very sweet and friendly French guy that made dissapear the bad experience from the previous night. Together with the cute kitten and Hervé I had a cosy afternoon and evening in the mountanious village Tsana #Georgia

Rain rain rain. I asked if I could sleep on the covered terrace of this roadhouse. I could and even better, the lady at the left offered me a place in her sleeping room. So grateful! #Georgia

In Napichkovo I started talking with these kids. The mother of two of them immediately came over to talk and offered me a bag full of home made cookies. Just delicious! #Georgia

Later that day, in Kurzu, I was looking for a safe place to camp. It was no option to pitch my tent in the garden, they made me sleep in a huge bed in the house of Lela and Tamuna, very kind people who welcomed me with chacha, a typical Georgian home brandy #Georgia

The son of Lela and Tamuna is a very sweet boy, Shotikot (7), who is learning Taikwondo together with his neighbor Mariami (14) who was my interpreter for the evening #Georgia

Leaving Kutaisi for a second time, this time direction the capital, Tbilisi. Along village roads I passed this little school. An ‘English’ teacher started talking to me and I informed for road conditions. It’s sad to see/hear that English teachers here aren’t very well educated. She hardly understood me and I barely understood her. One of her pupils spoke better English then she did #Georgia

It was in Kashuri that I couldn’t find a good camping spot. So I knocked at the door (actually gate) of the house where super sympathetic Tengo and his mother and sister are living. Tengo is a very sweet and welcoming guy. He and his sister are making hundreds of chairs to pay their studies. That evening his sister came over to my tent with French toasts, tea and pears. The following morning the mother of the house offered me tea and katchapuri, a typical Georgian yummy dish #Georgia

At the intersection for taking the road to Omala in Tusheti National Park, I realised that I missed a part of my bag that attaches it to my rear rack. The man on the scooter, who owns the butchery in the back, helped me for searching a rope (I left most of my luggage in Tbilisi, including some rope) #Georgia

The many climbing on the scenic road to Omalo deserved now and then a pause. In the only inhabited house on the road, lived this man, a roadworker who’s job consists of clearing these mountain roads the whole year round. He offered me chai (tea) and chacha (brandy) and a great view on Tusheti mountains #Georgia

Going down from the Abano pass to Omalo was due to sunset a wonderful experience. Some roadworkers informed me that the last 30 kilometer stretch to Omalo was a constantly going up and down. I realised I couldn’t make it before dark. I saw a guesthouse, at least, that was what I thought. Actually it was a house where four woodworkers were living and enjoying beer and chacha. They offered me beer too and chacha, soup, bread, apples and a night stay. Perfect timing… Thank you guys! #Georgia

Before really starting my bikehiking/bikepacking/Tusheti adventure I met these fellows lying in the sun, watching their sheep and horses. I verified with them if my planned direction was right. They said it wasn’t possible with my bicycle. I knew it would be though… Once again I actually didn’t listen to locals -oops- The man on the right offered me some candies for the road. Super sweet #Georgia

It was in Alvani that I arrived very late and couldn’t find a place to sleep. After knocking on different doors I could stay at this wonderful families garden. Salome (10) loved practising her English, her little sister Anna (8) was too cute and loved helping me with carrying my bags and pitching my tent. Waso and Madonna offered me a hearty soup, bread, eggs, apple and some kind of cherry. I’m so glad I met these wonderful people. Thanks a million #Georgia

In Alvani no marshrutka (shared mini-bus) allowed me and my bicycle to drive back to Tbilisi. I started hitching. This handsome man helped me, first with a ride to Telavi and once there helping me with finding a marshrutka that did want to take me. Thanks a lot #Georgia

In Indie Mindi, a nice hostel In Tbilisi, I met funny and sweet Marcel from Germany (also on the road for a while). Sometimes I left town for a couple of days or a week and when I returned he was still around. He fell in love with the city and with its nightlife. Glad I met you Marcel! Enjoy the road and where it brings you #Georgia

I took a mashrutka (minibus) to Car, a mountain village in Azerbaijan. The final stop was Car. A lady (Hawa, left) was carrying a lot of stuff and she invited me to her place. I helped carrying her bags. What I didn’t know was that her house was 1,5 hour walking into the mountains. But the road was just lovely, along a wild river, up and down and over… When we arrived at her house, she started cooking some food. And offered me pasta, egg, cheese, bread, tea and biscuits. So we had lunch together with her husband (Borja) and brother in law (Sasha). When I returned Borja accompanied me for the first half hour because otherwise I would be lost in the wood. Hawa gave me a full bag of chestnuts and nuts for the road. A bag I couldn’t refuse #Azerbaijan

It was in Sheki I met sweet and funny Aylan (left). She was guiding Salwa and Nadhem from the Emirates through Azerbaijan. Aylan speaks at least five languages and is super enthousiastic. She invited me to have lunch with them in the beautiful caravanserai where we met a second time. We spend a really cosy and tasteful afternoon #Azerbaijan

Buying a sim card in #Azerbaijan wasn’t possible without an Azeri passport, these guys said. So the guy on the left, lent me his passport. After buying the sim card I could try halva, one of the famous Sheki sweets in the other guys shop

I broke a spoke and the guy on the left, fixed it in 1,2,3 without even using the special tool for straightening a wheel. The moment I wanted to pay, I couldn’t. Azeri generosity is just wow! #Azerbaijan

I ran out of water. Farid (right) helped me with taking water out of the well in their garden. The boys were good fun and liked cycling my bike too #Azerbaijan

In Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, my computer was flipping completely. Was it a virus that entered? No idea. Anyhow, these guys from an Apple repair shop helped very good, with lots of patience and just for free #Azerbaijan

There was a sign I couldn’t pass the road to Vanadzor. I saw drivers neglecting the sign, so did I. After 20 kilometer everybody I was passing by made a stop sign. It was not possible, they were working on the road. I had to return. They were making a tunnel. I begged if I couldn’t pass. Thanks to some phone calls of these men, I could #Armenia

When I was riding further and further on the ‘forbidden’ road to Vanadzor I suddenly saw what was going on. They were really making a tunnel, and I really couldn’t pass. But these two strong men helped me crossing the tunnel and opened the iron fence for me #Armenia

It was around 3 pm when I arrived in the small mountain village of Lusashogh. It was -4ºC and this little boy was cycling around without gloves or jacket. He hadn’t cold at all. He liked his bell and used it a lot 😉 I offered him a ride on my bicycle, which he liked too. He called his mom and instantly the whole family came outside and was watching their little boy riding a heavy loaded touring bike #Armenia

I met funny Aleksandra (Slovenia) and Davit (Georgia) in a hostel of Armenia’s capital, Yerevan. We had some nice evening/night chats together, including sharing Davits Georgian cognac, which is really a disgrace if you know that Armenia is known for its cognac. They rent a car to travel around Armenia. The day I was planning to leave they asked me if I wanted to join the ride up to Geghard Monastery. I didn’t have to think twice and was very grateful they invited me to go there because I didn’t have the time anymore to do it myself. I really hope one day I can host them in Ghent #Armenia

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