Crossing the Georgian border, then along the Black Sea

Published on 09/17/2023 at 13:59

The last few kilometers to the Georgian border pass without a hitch, not counting of course all the trucks lining the roadside. But it's a familiar sight!

The border looms, and the chaos is palpable. Some people seem to know which direction to go, but that's far from being the case for everyone, and us in particular. Finally, a customs officer seems to be directing traffic, once to the left, once to the right. He tells us in broken English that passengers should get off. We'd been given this information by friends who'd passed by shortly before, but it's not very well explained, and we just take the necessary things, the children and I, namely a small bag with identity cards, passports and a pack of tissues. It will come in handy, but I forgot to take water, which was a big mistake! We follow the movement of the crowd and the elbow-to-elbow intensifies until we pass through customs to exit Turkey. We spent a long time waiting there, pushed through like sardines, but in the end it went off without a hitch.

Then we go through Georgian customs. I'd like to show our passports to get the Georgian stamp, but the customs officer tells us that since we entered Turkey with an ID card, we're leaving with the ID card and must keep it to enter Georgia. What a shame!

The second part goes well for us, although the driver is a little apprehensive. He spends more time than we do, without really searching the vehicle, but insisting on the ID card aspect. Clearly, they're not used to us passing through with ID cards, even though it's totally authorized. Anyway, we're off!

The rain is starting to make itself felt by the time we get our long-awaited driver back! We have to take out insurance for the vehicle, which goes quickly and smoothly, as well as a sim card for internet access.

The rain follows us from the very first km and is not about to stop! In fact, the rainfall in Batumi, Georgia's first city on the Black Sea, is quite incredible! We're entering a subtropical climate, which comes as a surprise, as we hadn't checked all the meteorological data and exact climates for each country, and we discover that the western part of Georgia has a subtropical climate!

Our first few kilometers see nothing but rain, and after a meal in a restaurant with a typical dish, the various bivouacs we had planned are really unpleasant in the rain... We end up trying to book an air bnb, but for the first time, the reservation doesn't work. We nibble a little something and while we're waiting for other Air bnb to accept a reservation - and it's already 9pm - we ask the saleswoman if, by any chance, she doesn't know anyone who would rent a room or two. And one phone call later, a lovely woman arrives, telling us to follow her - her house is just around the corner and she can accommodate us! Great! She shows us around, and we're at the top of our game! We spend two days in the rain, but so rich in encounters. She prepares a typical meal for us the next day, and we have a wonderful evening. How can you learn so much about a country: when you discover it with the people who live there, of course ????. The Georgian welcome is nothing like what we've been told; they may be a little closed-mouthed, but even after saying hello, it's something else!

It's time to leave them, and set off to discover the magnetic black sandy beach of Oureki. We pass through the village itself to do a bit of shopping, but soon get away from it: it's packed to the rafters with swimwear stores popping up like hotcakes.

Shortly afterwards, there's a beach with black sand, but as far as the magnetic aspect is concerned, we have to admit that we haven't tested it, and the rain which continues in this month of August won't even let us swim! At last, the children got their legs wet under the watchful eye of the lifeguard, who keeps an eye on us and informs us that we shouldn't stray far, as the sea is very rough...

A great opportunity to get to know our set-up a little better, and to tame it in the rain. What we find is that when we have time to prepare the set-up, it's perfectly practicable, and the afternoon film is enjoyed by the whole family!!!! And we really like our set-up under the pine trees lining the beach.

We meet a young French couple on vacation in Georgia, and discuss travel and the car, of course. Then off to Poti, a friendly village not far from the sea, where we immerse ourselves a little more in the culture of this country, through the market. There are lots of little stores selling all kinds of goods, each with its own specialization. For example, you'll find lots of stores selling hygiene products, whether for the body or the home, as well as DIY stores, each with its own speciality: gardening, metalwork, plumbing, tools and cooking. The market is calm and diversified, and it's here that you discover people's desire to help you find what you're missing. So we have to expect to go to several stores to find everything we need.

Then we set off for a bivouac in the middle of nowhere, because that's what we like best of all: a large plain on the banks of a river awaits us, and we won't be alone, because here, horses, cows, pigs, geese and others roam free. We'll sleep under a tree in the middle of this grandiose space. A kind gentleman comes to greet us and suggests we move a little further away, where there are fewer thistles. It's true that there are a lot of them where we are. Fortunately, a traveler gave us the good idea of buying a pair of pruning shears to clear the space around the van, and we took it in turns to do so, because there were so many.

But the worst thing about this place, and ultimately the only thing that made us hesitate to stay, was the mosquito invasion at sunset. It was the most intense we'd ever had, to the point where we didn't even dare get back into the vehicle and waited, walking around the van, for the invasion to end. Well, it'll never completely end, as the night was also extremely rich in stinging flying objects!

We then hesitate to visit Usguli and Mestia, in the Greater Caucasus, on the border with Russia. The scenery is advertised as extra ordinary, but so is the road, and it's even dangerous...