Telavi via Gremi, Nekresi en Alaverdi, Sighnaghi, Tiblisi, Gudauri (via mtskheta kazbegi), Sadakhlo (+border crossing Armenia) + Zhdanovakanti, Vardzia (grotten), Bakuriani, Kutaisi, Batumi
Telavi via Gremi, Nekresi en Alaverdi, Davit Monestry via Sighnaghi,
Sadakhlo (+border crossing Armenia) + Tiblisi, Bakuriani, Vardzia, Kutaisi, Mestia, Batumi (border crossing)
Border crossing, Telavi, and Davit Gareja monastery
Border crossing into Georgia
Entering Georgia was almost pleasant and took less then 5 minutes. No visa, no payments, no carnet, etc. They did check the car and it was for the first time that they asked what the ‘sealed compartment’ under the truck was…our long range dieseltank.
After buying lunch at the first bakery, we continued through the vineyards following the base of the Caucasus mountain range towards the first main attraction; Nekreski monastery. The monastery lies high into the mountains with a steep climb or shuttle bus. The shuttle bus had just left and the next meant waiting 25 minutes… As we wanted to end the day with a wine tasting, we did not have too much time to waste. We made a picture of the complex from below and drove onto Ananuri Castle. This beautiful stronghold lies right next to the road on the small peak.
From the castle we continued towards Schuchmann wines estate close to Telavi. MapsMe provided us with an interesting shortcut through the grain fields and vineyards via a road that had seen better days witnessing the deep potholes filled with water after the passed days of rain. As we entered the parking the first thing we noticed were two other overland trucks… We immediately clicked with Pete and Jen from the UK, who had done their tour and were now enjoying their wine tasting…
After our short tour through the winery that makes about 25 types of wines European style as well as traditional, using large underground ceramic bowls for fermentation, we started our wine tasting. Halfway through, we sat down with Pete and Jen and a very enjoyable evening with lot’s of stories and wine began. Luckily we had been allowed to camp on the premises that night.
The following morning, we started a bit slow (again sharing stories with Pete and Jen and doing some things around the car. We again had a battery problem, which luckily turned out to be just a loose wire and Pete borrowed our drill (never leave home without it J). After saying goodbye, we drove via Alaverdi Cathedral towards Signagi, a village in the middle of the wine region surrounded by a huge stone wall. In other words, a perfect stop for lunch and a little stroll through the old city.
After lunch we followed the mountain range towards the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareja towards the Azerbaijan border. The complex includes hundreds of cells, churches, chapels, refectories and living quarters hollowed out of the rocks. It was our idea to stay the night close to the Monastery, but did not fancy staying on the parking and decided to make our way towards Tbilisi. The road had not been great going towards the Monastery, but got seriously worse towards Tbilisi… The dirt road had become a mud road and the rain of the passed days made it an interesting experience. After about half an hour, we found a small road that could bring us out of sight of the main road as well as a Dutch campervan next to the road. Stopping next to the campervan, a ‘good evening’ was all it took, to decide to park next to Richard, Petra and their three kids for the night. It was another pleasant evening with good stories and nice wine.