Sunday, 4 September 2016

Day 71: Savsat to Akhaltsikhe, via Ardahan and the Turkey/Georgia border, 205km. 13° - 25.5°C

Food features today.
Our last meal in Turkey was a splendid breakfast at Laset Motel.
I thought afterwards that I should have taken an 'after' photo to show that we didn't eat everything! We ate only the eggs, some olives and tomatoes, some bread and cheese.
Fuelled up we rode to Ardahan over mountain roads to the steppes high in the hills.

A new university is being built at Ardahan. There are new high rise apartments. Farm land is not being used for housing here.
New mosques, too. We saw evidence of building programmes everywhere. Even in rural towns.
The population of Turkey is projected to be 80.8million in 2016. (An increase of 16million since 2000). It is growing at 1.3million per year - including immigrants. 50% of the population is under 30. 
For comparison- The population of Great Britain is 64million and Germany is 80million.
99% of the population is Moslem.

The road to the border was spectacular... Swooping around corners and revealing a turquoise lake which straddles the border between Turkey and Georgia.
The border crossing at the newly built modern  border post at Atkas went very smoothly. Perhaps it is so new that people don't realise that it exists. There was one truck and ours was the only private vehicle.
A clean up took longer than the border processing. See below.

Our first observations in Georgia were of how similar the farming was.
A sharp jolt as we crossed unpainted judder bars woke  us up. We were in a village with houses that were old. Satellite  dishes, haystacks and tractors suggested which ones were occupied.
We followed the road through a very pretty river valley to Alkhaltskhe.
Then lunch and dinner...




Hay making and threshing. Horses and modern tractors and machines.
A mosque being built at Cildir. 

 Ducks in the background, sheep, children, high rise apartments  in Çildir village.

Toward Aktas.
The flag man waves us down.
The trucks in the distance get closer.
The truck on the right turns out to be a tar truck...
He doesn't stop dispensing tar when he gets close to us...
We get enveloped in the smokey sooty hot tar vapour.
Part of the rich tapestry of miscommunication.

We cross through the Turkish border control and the Georgian border control.
A female customs officer is called. I am asked if I have any medicines. I hop off the bike and get out my smal medical kit and show her my Disprin and Imodium. She is interested in the packets of Elastoplast.
It wasn't till I went to the ladies and saw my face that I realised the cause of the questions... 
I have the face of a tar baby. I couldn't bear to take a photo - I was a panda in reverse. A fine spray of tar on all the exposed parts of my face.
 I know that tar not water soluble. All I can remember is using eucalyptus oil to remove tar years ago.
Then I spy a bottle of Domestos in the corner. Will that work?
I am  unsure what benefits there are in a tar facial. Time will tell. 
I cleaned our glasses. Then my helmet. Then my face. 
Plenty of water rinses and my skin was a bit red but otherwise OK.

Tip of The Day dear readers! Domestos removes tar.


The first cross sighting since Romania.

Hay is being stored on this side of the border. The housing seems less salubrious on this side of the border.

The scenery through the valleys is lovely.


Take the lid off a Transit van and you can fit in more hay.


We arrive in Alkhaltskhe around lunch time.
Let's have some local food. Salad of large juicy beefsteak tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, fresh herbs with walnut dressing

Grilled Aubergine wrapped around and topped with ground walnut spread.
And a lamb kebab.

We wanted a light meal for dinner.
Chicken seemed to be the best choice. 
We each received a whole roast chicken - one in garlic and milk sauce, the other roasted, a bean casserole and rosemary potatoes. Served with a glass of local Sauvignon Blanc. 
It was delicious but we only ate a small portion. All this for about $NZ25.


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