Beyond clouds - through Russia to Georgia

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by randel, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. terpaksangaskus

    terpaksangaskus Lonerider

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    Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat INA
    Yey yey yey :clap :clap :clap

    Keep moving keep moving !!!

    So, your KTM really greedy drinking gas eh ? huh, actually i have good expectation about that FC
    hope he can't blow up your budget :freaky
    #21
  2. E-man

    E-man 4-4-09, 12-6-09, 1-13-10

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    We Want MORE!!!:lol3:clap
    #22
  3. woodly1069

    woodly1069 Long timer

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    Location:
    Louisville, KY...really too far from the hills!
    Subscribed! :deal you guys rock...can't wait for the mountains!
    #23
  4. rok1679

    rok1679 Adventurer

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    Europe, Slovenia, Kisuc
    So, you've made it to Georgia ?
    #24
  5. Smajser

    Smajser n00b

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    Beograd,Serbia
    Is there any news :1drink
    #25
  6. LGT

    LGT Adventurer

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    North East, Italy
    :type

    I'm in too, guys.
    #26
  7. wachs

    wachs just passin' through

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    excellent! :freaky
    #27
  8. Mumblebee

    Mumblebee Adventurer

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    :clap
    #28
  9. BenMen

    BenMen Adventurer

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    Hey, don't let us wait too much please :clap
    #29
  10. randel

    randel Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
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    318
    Location:
    Mattighofen
    Sorry for everybody for letting you down for so long. New job and other changes were keeping me away from posting more. I hope I can improve my writing speed now :D

    So, let's go on with day 5. Surprisingly we woke up already 6am, one hour earlier than usually. Jänx checked his bike rear tire and of course it was totally flat. So, tire repair workshop started really early today

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    I was preparing our breakfast on the same time.

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    As we say in estonia (free translation) - trained man, good tools - it didn't take two full hours to repair that tube (poorly, as we discovered it later on :rofl) KTM sidestand was really helpful to broke the bead of BMW's rear tyre!

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    While we already had our tools out, I changed rear brake pads too. 5 minutes and done.

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    So 10am we were on the road, tires and brakes fit again and hopes high to reach Georgian border already today!
    Next hundreds of km's were not too interesting, flat landscape, many fields around, just like yesterday. Sunflowers were popular

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    For lunch we wan't some meat! Shashlik - don't decide about taste by how this place looks - it's amazing how good that meat can be! Just some salt, pepper, fire and ready!

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    Dogs also appreciated that smell of meat. We could see dogs walking everywhere we stopped.

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    Oldest job in the world :wink:

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    Our day was uneventful until late afternoon. Than it all changed. And not to better.
    First warning came, when we were driving by some small local market. One car started moving right before a small Gazell truck which I was just started to overtake. Truck driver instantly turned left but couldn't avoid collision and I haven't seen a truck driving on two wheels from so close distance, maybe one meter away. Luckily I could avoid hitting it by some inches (no oncoming traffic this time, huh) and no other things happened than my heartrate was tripled for some time. :rofl
    It was probably around 5pm when we arrived to North-Ossetian border. Less than 200km to Georgian border, which we expected to reach before sunset. Wrong!
    There was a passport control on the road and two lanes of cars waiting. As the left one was shorter and seemed to move faster, we picked that lane - after short chat with local soldiers and with their suggestions...
    5minutes later we arrived to very angry officer, who was yelling to as and requested for "propusk" (some sort of permission)..We had to park our bikes near passport control office and enter. That same officer collected our documents and explained what we did wrong. As he explained, that left line was for police cars only! Yeah right - and every police officer in Russia is driving a BMW with dark tinted windows and shaking hands with passport control officer! But now we have done a really serious crime and be punished. They must collect our driver licences and we must wait for a court to take place in four weeks! It was clear that they expected us to pay them, and not officially, of course. After listening for all the bad things waiting for us I asked, how much it will cost that they let us go. And the amount was ridiculous - 18000 rubles! It's around 450 Euros, for driving maybe 20meters on the "wrong" lane and not disturbing anybody. We were quite shocked about the arrogance of this people and started to negotiate. Two hours later we agreed to 60Euros and a bottle of "Vana Tallinn" liqueur - our very special national alcoholic drink, which was very famous all over the former Soviet Union and works also nowadays as we can see :freaky

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    So, we finally got back all our documents and were allowed to drive on. But sun was already very low and we had at least two hours drive before entering Georgia. We were warned not to drive during night in this area and Vladikavkaz was infamous about criminals and terrorists. But we haven't any other choice, so let's go and hope for the best!
    We arrived Vladikavkaz at 9pm, still 40km to border, which should be open from 6am to 10pm. When we stopped at traffic light in the middle of Vladikavkaz, one Lexus SUV drove next to us and driver shout from the window to us - I wan't to drive your motorcycle! Stop after that intersection! :eek1
    And maybe he had only best intentions, but this day has been not the best for us this far, so we were quite shocked. I told over the intercom to Jänx, let's accelerate away from this guy! As lights turned green, we started like streetracers, overtaking other cars and exceeding every possible speed limits. We saw from mirors SUV following us for some time, but finally they lost us or gave up. Huh...
    We finally passed Vladikavkaz, but discovered that it was way too late to try to reach border on time. What to do? Mountains everywhere, no possible place to put up our tent and actually not very encouraging situations behind us. We pulled over to small parking lot to discuss over prospects we have. While we were reading our map, few guards from nearby building walked to us. They were quite polite and told us, that no problems, we can drive on and cross the border, which should work 24hours now. And while we were skeptical about that, we decided to try our luck and drive on. Our hopes were high as we drove up to the mountains and closer to border, but maybe one km before border crossing we were stopped by two soldiers (in total darkness btw). No, you can't enter, border is closed for today. Damned!
    They told us though, that we can put up our tent anyway if we only leave border zone. Ok, let's try then. It's not easy to find a place in the mountains in total darkness but maybe an hour later we found a place on dry riverbead maybe 100meters from the road. It's better than nothing, it's already 1am and we are exhausted. We decided not to put up our tents, but sleep next to our bikes, ready to run, under some plastic sheeting we have took with us for such situations. It was actually almost impossible to sleep, that plastic sheeting flapping loudly in the wind "crap-crap-crap-crap...." but fatigue took over finally...

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    Today's route

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    #30
  11. AlpineGuerrilla

    AlpineGuerrilla Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2010
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    399
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    Basel, Switzerland
    I would have accelerated away from the SUV driver, too. There's a thin line between "I want to ride your bike" and "this is now my bike". :eek1 :lol3

    Great to see this report going again.
    #31
  12. ckjj888

    ckjj888 Been here awhile

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    Jul 13, 2011
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    195
    “I like how your pictures tell a story... like this one”:eek1:eek1:eek1

    哈哈哈啊哈~~~
    #32
  13. Hosebag

    Hosebag Difficult but Useful

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    Oct 24, 2006
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    Douchevillia
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    Yup, I don't think it was apples you were checking out :wink:
    #33
  14. randel

    randel Been here awhile

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    Jan 25, 2006
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    318
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    Mattighofen
    I must admit, that picture told the truth, but those apples were definately too early to pick :wink:
    #34
  15. way gone

    way gone n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2012
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    7
    Great adventure. I think those apples are just right.
    #35
  16. randel

    randel Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
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    318
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    Mattighofen
    Another day, 6th from the start.

    We woke up early and discovered now where we are. As sun started to shine, Georgia is just few km's away and we were still alive, everything seemed much more beautiful now :)

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    All packed, we were ready to hit the border. Moment of truth - will they let us cross this border? Road to border crossing was perfect

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    We reached russian border control and for our surprise, first guard was so polite that we feel like in the wrong place. He explained everything, now you go to this window and show your documents, then you can drive on to there and so on. We showed our passports, they were surprised about the distance we covered (3000km's? on bikes? really? only 4 days?), but nobody didn't look like they will send us back. Good :evil
    We reached customs quite fast, and another surprise. When they discovered that we are not russians, but from Estonia and need to fulfill additional papers, they sent us to a very polite old man. He described his job as " I'm already retired but I'm helping those youngsters out", :rofl
    He talked english and german with us until we could finally explain him that we can speak russian too and actually don't need help to fulfill those already familiar forms. Until now it has been unbelievable experience for us. We expected anything but that kind of friendliness from this border.
    It was too good to be true, though. We had our papers ready, but unfortunately there's only one officer who can enter our papers to computer and for our misfortune he just had started cleaning his room. Taking one paper after another (same forms we had ready), he looked at those papers with unhappy face and threw them on the bin Oh really, why they demand to fulfill those stupid forms when they enter them to computer and threw old papers away anyway? Another great mystery of Russia. Finally sorting action was over but now cleaning commando attacked this room to wash the floor. Why they couldn't do it before they opened gates? Another hour to wait. And that officer walked around and complained, that he can't do anything, floor is still wet. Yes, nobody can argue with 100+kg cleaning lady in Russia :rofl
    Two hours after reaching border we could finally hand over our documents and watched special "one-finger-data-entering-process" for next 20 minutes. After customs we had to show our luggage to border control, but it went uneventfully and we were allowed to leave Russia. Now we only had to pass that final checkpoint and hand over small (5x10cm maybe) stamped paper we got from first checkpoint. If you loose that, you will probably arrested for some months :rofl

    We couldn't believe - we crossed russian border and were allowed to enter Georgia. Woohoo!
    We had to drive few km's on no-man's land before entering georgian border control on the other side of mountains.

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    And then we saw georgian border control.

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    We had read so many great stories about georgians hospitality that it seemed like a gate to a holy land :D
    Formalities on georgian border went reasonably fast after russian side experience, unfortunately there were many russian tourist acquiring for visas. Most time-consuming place was paying for visas and while we wanted to change some local money (don't count on credit cards!) we had to wait on long queue, watching how three men handled one customer at a time - one bringing georgian money, another fulfilling papers and third counting rubles. Anyway, another hour later we were on Georgia! We made it!
    Road went from good to bad to worse. After few kilometers we stopped to discuss our plans. We had only general plans for Georgia and decided to go and look whatever we will find interesting.

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    Meanwhile two truck drivers came to us to ask for some petrol - they had a flat and needed petrol to reinflate tyre. We found last few grams of petrol from our stove but luckily they succeeded. We didn't know yet we will meet them again one week later...

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    We continued south and reached Stepantsminda. High above the village is located Gergeti Trinity Church. Ride up the hill through Stepantsminda village and forest was interesting. Many tourist walking, many using small 4WD minibuses (most of them RHD, imported from Japan).

    Stepantsminda

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    Gergeti Trinity Church

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    View from the church

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    Kazbegi mountain (5045m) was covered with clouds

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    We continued on Georgian Military Highway and reached cross pass at 2395 meters. Road conditions were better described as non-existent. Most of the asphalt was washed away and replaced with gravel and big holes. I really don't know how all those trucks, buses and cars drive there.
    Cross pass

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    After that we found this. We didn't know what this is or why it's there but it looked interesting.

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    KTM, best bike for this trip (well, BMW owners may not agree with me) :D

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    We passed silent Gudauri, one of the two most famous sky resorts in Georgia. It was already afternoon and we feel that lunch could be good idea. We stopped at one roadside bar and two men immediately invited us to join them.

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    We ordered some meat, talked with our new friends about our trip, about Georgia, politics, roads, women, police and so on. They were two truck-drivers, working on the road rebuilding. Every day they wake up 2am to start driving to Tbilisi for asphalt and then back to mountains where they must unload at 8. They manage to make one round trip a day, 300km. Their trucks were right hand drive too - a little bit unfamiliar at first, but very handy to use every inch of the road - as they told us, they can look right down to confirm they have that last inch of ground under the wheels :eek1
    Somehow beers appeared on our table and not much later a bottle of vodka too. We could (almost) deny from vodka as we still wanted to ride further today despite our friends inviting us to join them in their hotel. Older man is Niko, I have forgot another name. They invited us to visit them in Georgia next year. And of course they didn't let us pay for our lunch. If this is not great hospitality, I don't know what is :clap

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    Finally we managed to leave, refueled our bikes, bought some local beers and turned to small mountain road to head to Tusheti tomorrow. Not much later we found a small road, parked our bikes, put up tent and celebrated our arrival to Georgia.

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    Easy 150km today, it's great to be here :freaky
    #36
  17. duroturk

    duroturk Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
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    271
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    Kayseri, TR
    Subscribed. I hope we are also heading to the same border this summer :evil
    #37
  18. Ni3ous

    Ni3ous Double Axle Rider

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    Oct 13, 2009
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    Slovenia
    :ear:ear:lurk
    #38
  19. Memelender

    Memelender n00b

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    Aug 22, 2011
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    Location:
    Lithuania
    Nice RR and nice pictures. I did not found a date when you did this trip. Me and my friend we are planning the same trip to Georgia in September of this year. I heard that border between Georgia and Russia is closed for EU tourist or other countries. Just russians accept to cross the border. Actually it's not true. You have done it.
    What is really situation ?
    #39
  20. randel

    randel Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
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    318
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    Mattighofen
    We did our trip from Aug.18th - Sept.4th 2011. Climate was perfect, not too warm (mostly :D) nor yet not too cold in mountains. Higher passes may be closed until June.
    Yes, we heard same stories before our trip, that EU citizens are not allowed to cross border at Verkhni Lars (only border crossing between Georgia and Russia today), but finally we didn't have any problems. Do you need visa to enter Georgia? Georgia don't require visa from Estonian citizens, it may make a difference too.
    #40