Our friend Rikus joined us on this leg to drive the Toyota.
We returned to Istanbul and immediately headed South, but first had to learn KTM Lesson Number 2, when Pie’s bike, which we jump started the morning, cut-out while at full speed on a main road, which proved that a faulty battery can display symptoms of running out of fuel and the alternator alone is not enough to power the electrics of the bike, it needs a good battery as well, (we replaced the battery on the centre island during peak morning traffic and then she ran perfectly.)
We took a Ferry over the Sea of Mamre and headed for the Mediterranean and then Zig-Zagged along the costal dirt roads. But before we reached the border with Syria we received confirmation that we would not be allowed to cross into Syria and that it has gone from pockets of conflict to Civil War, so we decided to Head for Georgia instead. But we first stopped off at Cappadocia to experience a truly magnificent wonder of Nature. We took a balloon flight as this was the only way to experience the unique landscape and on a day with good weather, in the peak of their summer, we heard as many as 170 Balloons will be gliding over this beautiful area and National Park.
Georgia was a shock, in Turkey we had been traveling almost without seeing other people and vehicles, but as soon as we crossed over into Georgia, a former Soviet Union Province, we were left fighting for our little space on the road where the rule of Bigger Has Right Of Way is the rule of the road and every kilometre was a test to avoid cars, trucks, busses driving just as they please without any consideration for a small little motorbike as they pushed us off on several occasions or took overtaking gaps from behind us when we were not even willing to pass the vehicle in front of us as it was clear to us that we would not be able to overtake, but they just ed on and then a lot of lights flash and hooting happens before someone moves onto the gravel next to the road.. We headed for the capital of Tbilisi on very poor roads with the absence of infrastructure very evident. Once we made it to Tbilisi alive we continued East towards The Steps, known for the large wolves in the area which borders with Azerbaijan. Here we visited old Monasteries built into the mountain and caves.
Once back in Tbilisi we started searching for a place to lock our bikes and as soon as the Hotel receptionist started understanding what we were asking her to search in the local language on the local internet, a group of KTM riders walked into the hotel and informed us they saw our bikes in the street and they were on their way to a party to celebrate St. Georges Day and we should join them. Which we did, and the night was spent sampling their homemade sweet red wine, a very proud tradition is Georgia to make your own wine, (the best homemade wine was made by our taxi driver who invited us to his flat to taste his wine.)
At the party we learnt how proud the Georgians are about their rugby and their homemade wine, unfortunately we also had to sample homemade Vodka which could not be drunk without a toast and a short speech, and speaking through an interpreter everyone got a chance to toast and speech, eventually the home made delicacies were served and we left very late as Brothers from different mothers. But not before making arrangement with the owner of the KTM dealership and his mechanic (the 1st two guys that arrived at our hotel,) to meet them at the local racetrack where they have a workshop with enough space to lock the bikes and Brutes for the Winter. We also each gave a list to the Mechanic who could speak English of jobs they need to do on the bikes. Unfortunately before we could return the Mechanic was fired and nothing was done to our bikes apart from the obvious things the owner could see, but not what was written on the list.
Before we left we went to Customs to find out how long the bikes may stay in the country and was shocked to learn that they had to leave Georgia within three months, as a result the KTM guys charged us a fee to load the bikes on a trailer, hook this behind the Toyota and cross into Azerbaijan in three months’ time before our permits would expire and return immediately giving us new permits with another 3 months so we could return in the Spring.