We get serious and try to make our way towards Tusheti, one of the most remote places in Georgia.
Trying therefore, because some higher power apparently wants to prevent us from achieving this.
First we wait for a package from Amazon, which takes over 2 weeks and turns out to be an exceedingly complex matter in the end. It’s very pleasant to see how online stores work in Switzerland. Ordered today, in the mailbox tomorrow – did you know that there are not even mailboxes in Georgia!?
When we finally had the package in our hands after hours of paperwork, Beni got sick. So we were again prevented from continuing our journey for several days.
A few days later, Beni at half-mast, to our delight, we continued towards Sioni. Because Beni was not yet feeling quite fit, we looked for accommodation again a little outside the city. We quickly discovered that all the accommodations listed on Google Maps or Booking.com no longer existed (thanks Corona). The canvassing of the accommodations took us a lot of time and nerves! Finally, exhausted, we decided to head for the initially planned campsite.
Suddenly the cell phone rang, on the other end of the line was Rainer (our new Swiss colleague from Tbilisi). He had just passed us and was on his way to a friend’s house to pick up furniture for his pizzeria. He asked us if we wanted to come over for a drink. Sweaty and tired as we were, we gratefully accepted the offer at the 37°C.
A few minutes later we arrived at Rainer, Khatuna and Zura, were fed and even invited to stay overnight. When Khatuna even offered us to use her family vacation home in Sioni, we were again swayed on the side of happiness.
Not quite asleep because of the noise of the nightly yelp of competition between dogs and jackals, we pedaled, Beni back in shape, through beautiful and shady forest to Sioni. After a last, felt vertical climb, we reached the simple hut with a magnificent garden, where Dima and his father were already waiting for us to hand over the keys.
The place was perfect to rest for a day – we thought.
Because one day became four. Nicole has also caught the flu. We described our misery to Dima, whereupon he offered us to use his hut for free as long as we want 😃. An incredibly nice family!
Since Komoot has often led us astray, Beni used the time in Sioni to scout out our route further through the forest. First with the drone, then himself on site, where he also asked a local for his assessment. Everything pointed to a thoroughly doable but challenging path. This shortcut would save us a few kilometers.
After four days, Nicole felt ready to take on the Forest Challenge. Unfortunately, our plan did not work out.
Our suffering summarized: After 4 hours of pushing our bicycles up the overgrown forest road, we capitulated completely scratched, exhausted and close to tears (you can see a more detailed impression of our emotions in the video).
Dima certainly had to grin inside at our renewed request for another night in the hut 😅.
The next day we rolled easily over the “Gombori Mountain Pass” on beautiful asphalt (this is the alternative route to the forest route). We are now happy to take the detour.
But the scare was not over yet. When we put up our beloved tent in the evening, a tent pole cracked and the connecting piece was torn (presumably this pole had already taken a hiccup before). Now it was time to quickly get our tent pole repair sleeve out and put it in place, because a storm with gusts of up to 90 km/h came up all of a sudden. The storm lasted all night and we feared for our tent. In the morning we could once again sing a song of praise, because it has not taken any damage and has withstood the storm. Also the replacement tent pole was already shipped to us by Nordisk on warranty – super customer service!
Quite tired we drove down into the valley and further towards Pshaveli. In a somewhat larger village shortly before we stocked up on food for at least four days for the adventure of Tusheti. We inquired with a local if there was a restaurant nearby. He then told us to follow him and he would navigate us to the restaurant. We ended up not in the restaurant, but with his family, who served us a feast including homemade wine.
Although we would have liked to sit longer with the nice family, we still wanted to slowly get on the road. We planned to make it part of the way up to the Abano Pass that day. From the village of Pshaveli begins the 2,570 meter climb to the Abano Pass at 2,826 meters above sea level. The road is considered one of the most dangerous roads in Europe. There are repeated rockfalls and landslides and it is quite narrow with steep slopes without guard rails. We plan to conquer this extremely steep gravel road in two days. Approximately in the middle there is the only possible place to spend the night right next to a hot spring where we can regenerate our muscles. It is in the middle of nowhere with a super view of the High Caucasus and we feel so pudelwohl that we splash and enjoy well and gladly two hours.
Rested and highly motivated, the next day we started the 2nd stage up to the pass. It was once again over 1,000 meters of altitude to push into the pedals. The higher we get, the more exhausting it becomes to breathe and especially for Nicole it feels like the climb will never end. But an unbelievable surprise and reward awaits her on the pass, which Beni set up while still in Sioni. For him it was clear that a woman who follows him over the most dangerous road in Europe is definitely the right one. So he got down on his knees in front of Nicole on the pass and asked her to marry him ❤️. She said YES! This is a moment we both will never forget. Everything just fit, was beautiful, surprising and getting engaged in such a magical place is very special.
In the next blog post we will take you down to the villages of Tusheti.
For even more insight into our everyday cycling life, check out our latest video: