Good and bad
Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
109Trip End Dec 15, 2011
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Where I stayed
First incident was running into snow, just shows that its still winter where we are. The road wasnt as bad as some we found in Georgia. Got to the bypass for Tbilisi, and thought we would avoid the capita, if the second city was anything to go by. Saw a couple of lorries go down the by pass, so why not. Road was OK for the first stretch, but then it just ran out. Dont know what had been done to it, but we sat for a while and wondered whether to backtrack all that way or risk it. How far does the track last? Eventually we pushed on, going slowly and avoiding whatever potholes we saw, but investigating some very closely
After about 10 miles it returned to tarmac again, and we whizzed along, still avoiding potholes, but at least you could see them this time!
Got to the border, and there we queued to get out of Georgia. While we were waiting in the queue, a ppoliceman came along, breathalysing all the drivers. As I was on the left, I got breathalysed. The trouble is, it was positive! He made me blow in about 10 times, and every time it came back positivee. The only think we would put it down to was a Fox's Glacier mint I was in the priocess of eating. He left us alone checking other drivers, then came back and this time it occasionally was OK, and occasionally not. He really didnt know what to do, but eventually went off and left us alone. Cant imagine why they test the passengers, when all the locals were knockking it back at a hell of a rate.
Got to the front of the queue and presented our passports to a surly guy, who scowled all the time, scanning them and stampting them. Then with a broad smile he passes tham back and says goodbye!
Thats just getti8ng out of the country.
Into Azerbaijan which I'll let Martin tell you about - he did all the work, I just sat there as the passenger (and guarded the car!)
Off into Azer, where the roads are much better, whizzed along with no potholes, making great time, catching up on schedule
On towards Ganja, which has about 20 difefrent spellings. Then the road, whioch had been 3 cars wide so you could overtake if it was safe (and Azeri's are a lot safer drivers that Georgians, but the overtaking was still hairy!) came to a stop and we were on a detour. Mud and potholes everywhere! So back to a snails pace, although still some drivers made a third lane (and overtook directly into oncoming traffic) for about 10 miles. By this time we were absolutely exhausted, so pulled into the first hotel we found, a Ramada. Quite expensive, but boy the luxury is worth it. Great night's sleep.
The falling snow was actually quite heavy and the road began to sludge up,which given gradients could have proven pretty dangerous.As was the missing road around Tibilisi (more "i"'s than you can shake a stick at).Felt as if I was back in a trials car.Have to say at this stage I was having severe misgivings about whole trip - would the roads now be like this?If so we were not going to make it
The set up at the border defies description - thankfully one of Azer police lads took a liking to car and remembered me through process,so I had a point of reference.Goodness knows what relation papers I handed in bear to those that came out.The breathalyser incident was a bit amusing,particularly when I was not the one breathing in to machine.I was convinced bloke had an on/off switch and was waiting for a back-hander.gave up when Roger showed him the Fox's mints.Would have been interesting to make charge stick when stering wheel was on other side of car.
At least I know now where those blue camouflage fatigues come from which you get from military surplus stores.One size fits nobody in particular.Next time I drive through this part of world I will be dressed as a full Admiral - that'll get me through.
Into Azer and hang on...its not raining,roads join up in the middle and reach both sides and the countryside is much better.Verges of roads used as grazing for caattle and apparently also menfolk who gather at least in pairs and all wear the national costume.Black jaacket as seen modelled in most UK High Streets.
Our police stop - "50 dollars" was I think headed off by bloke in Merc. who pulled off with us but greeted police with hand shake and then engaged us and policeman in conversation about car.Eventuall we were waved off.The car is the star and fines are for visitors
But after emerging at the end of the day as we emerged on the Azer.side from a 10 mile unmade road - there in front of us was a glorious hotel and yes,you have guessed it - a Ramada! Hoisted on my own moutard.We are making most of stop as we are ahead of schedule and have issues with timing of attempted crossing to Turkmenistan across Caspian.
We used the time this morning (yes this is the next day) to fix w/wiper again.I think problem all along was dodgy connection on motor and -it is not raining.
I'll stretch the Abdullah and Ivan saga a little longer - ratcheting the tension.Bit like driving a Morris.How the blazes we did 277 miles yesterday is a mystery.