The idea for the holiday was as simple as ever. We were supposed to go by car from Męcikał to Czersk, then by regional car to Tczew, change to IC to Warsaw, take a bus to Chopin airport, fly to Tenerife, take a ferry to La Palma, rent a car, drive to the other end of the island, rent bikes, shoot a round bikepacking with Roque de los Muchachos and spend the rest of your vacation walking around La Palma. Roque seems interesting because it is a bigger driveway than Teide. And a less hackneyed one, because Teide is already known to everyone by heart, even if they haven't been there. The cup of bitterness, however, was overwhelmed by bicycle rentals, which seem to be moderate in La Palma in July if you do not want enduro. And then, two weeks before departure, my friend Piotr posted some photos for Instagram from Georgia. The next day we called Piotrek to confirm if it was cool and we bought tickets.

Organization.

When it comes to organization, in Georgia everything seems difficult, but it is very easy. The best way to plan a walking route is to use this blog: https://www.caucasus-trekking.com/ more specifically, a map with a description of individual sections (with commuting, description of difficulties, logistics, etc.) that works slowly on it and put it together somehow: https://www.caucasus-trekking.com/maps. For on-site navigation, we use the Maps.cz application on our phones.

In my opinion, you do not need to know anything else. Even the internet (PLN 20 / 10GB) almost jumps into your hands at the airport.

Georgia: bikepacking vs backpacking

We were supposed to go with bikes, but the laziness and the vision that we would not have to lug these luggage, worry about defects, avoid drunk drivers and, according to the legends, the worst drivers in Europe prevailed. Is that okay?

If someone asks me if it is worth going to Georgia with a bike (I omit Enduro and MTB) - I answer: DO NOT RIDE. But I only answer this because I do not want anyone on my conscience when the 190km / h * marshrutka kills him. I say this as probably the only man who came back from the Dolomites road and said meeeh. Here, too, I thought that we would skip all the best views and ride a bike by the road from the village dode village.

* these are marshrutk kilometers, so I used the multiplier x2.5. In a car that does not have any unnecessary sheet or plastic element, you feel the speed of 70 km / h as 170 km / h.

Here is the moment where you can look at Google Maps and see how many roads there are in Georgia. Subtract a bit, because such North Ossetia is a zone foolish. You do not want to go with the vast majority of the default zoom. If, however, we managed to go along the route somehow, where at first glance there are no roads ... After 700 km, my observation is: the worse the road, the better. Normal drivers seem cool (unless they are on a bomb), and the drivers transporting people are the equivalent of Masurian milk tanks.

In fact, when cycling, you will miss all the best landscapes ... but! You will also drive slowly through all those villages that you would normally not notice. However, they are, in my opinion, the greatest attraction of Georgia. Because let's be honest: the views are absolute top and being surrounded by 5,000 meters is cool, but is it better than the Dolomites or Switzerland? I do not know. And we will not find such villages anywhere in the world known to us, similar to ours. Even in the vicinity of Męcikał! ;-) Therefore, the optimal form for me would be: 5-6 days of cycling + 2 days of trekking.

Georgia - a very good plan.

It was supposed to be like this (115km / 7250m):

The plan was very good. We're flying from Gdańsk to Kutaisi. A return flight of about PLN 1000 per person, together with a large backpack. Our taxi driver is waiting for us at the airport. We are also waiting for a dozen other taxi drivers and marshrutka drivers who offer access to each place. Ours, however, is ours. We tapped the first night in Marina's guest house in Lentekhi (PLN 65 / person with two big meals). Marina is the man who will take care of everything. So I wrote to her if she can help with transport from the airport, because it is 120 km. So she wrote back that of course: either the next day a bus for PLN 30 / person or a taxi from the airport PLN 190. We feel sorry for a holiday so: The taxi will be exactly 17:45. You will sit down and come out.

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It quickly turns out that:

In Georgia, everyone knows everyone and everyone can arrange everything for you with everyone. There are two rules:

1. Do and don't ask because there is no time. This is a perfectly oiled chaos machine that only works when everything feels the same.

2. In Georgia, you use a declarative language, not an imperative one

This means that when you want to get somewhere, you do not search the Internet or go to the truck driver asking for a course to the bus station, from which your bus supposedly leaves at the given time. In Georgia, you approach any person and say what you want to achieve, for example: I want to be in Kutaisi today. It's worth adding that if you don't speak Georgian, people will speak Russian to you. If you don't understand, nobody will be bothered by it. Then you throw yourself into a whirlwind of completely unpredictable events that seemingly make no sense, but in the evening you check in to Kutaisi. The fact that, by the way, the driver received honey in plastic from the beekeeper and left it to someone 100 km away, replaced a quite good wheel in the marshrutka, stopped for lunch, then threw gas to the metal, to arrive 3 minutes before the departure of another bus, which has no schedule driving or stopped in the middle of the road to nowhere to collect the handicap crutches from the driver on the way. True story.

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We check in at Marina after 2.5 hours (I remind you: 120 km) of driving with probably the slowest driver in the world. Uncreated things happen. There are hordes of cows on the roads, which are avoided with surgical precision, hordes of pigs, buildings like from movies, hundreds of funny dogs and everyone greets everyone. The car has the steering wheel on the wrong side, but it quickly turns out to be statistically one in three.

Dinner is waiting for us there. This is one of those lunches you dream about after riding 300 km by bike. The so-called: non-edible dinner. Everything is made on the spot: from bread to cheese. We get so much fat and gluten that we will last for the rest of our lives. We don't know yet that we will get the same thing every day. Even in restaurants. Khachapuri in a thousand ways. In a fit of luxury, sometimes a dumpling or a piece of meat.

We spend the evening on an emergency search for the fastest possible flight back home, because it turns out that our little samurai decided to kill his temporary guardians (even if they say it was the other way around). He saves the situation only 2 days later Ania of Good Track and at the last moment we can give up the thought of a premature return. During these two days, all of us, including the dog, age by about 5 years.

The portions in Georgia are American and the food mainly consists of their more bread and many varieties of cheese. Substantial amounts of cheese.

In the morning, breakfast is again impenetrable and, as lazy tourists, please take the gravel road to the Latpari Pass - it's about 12 km. Because why go on a gravel road, when you can go. Better to keep your strength for something that you can't go after. We are a bit surprised by the amount of PLN 250 for 12 km, so we decide to be just a little luxurious and ask for a ride to ~ half of the pass. For 8 km, we pay PLN 120, but after an hour of driving, we understand why. It turns out that the 4x4 Suzuki Jimny knows how to ride vertically. And it's good that he can, because a moment of hesitation on this gravel road is enough to roll a kilometer down. I assume that the price of the shipment includes the likelihood of rolling.

The approach is pretty nice, but in sewing it turns out that it wasn't like that at all. For the first time, we see snow-capped mountains much higher than 4 km. Shawl. What follows next, that is the descent from Latpari to Ushguli (supposedly the highest, permanently inhabited village in Europe) I can describe as one of the best hiking routes we have ever followed. One that the best American national parks would not be ashamed of. Throughout the day we meet a total of: 1 lady with a dog, one German trekking trip, 2 people who set off on the trail in the afternoon from our destination. I think that the photos here are enough for the description:

On Gorvashi Pass (2,899 m) Sylwia falls over. Not in such a way that the tipper causes an injury, but unfortunately in the opposite way - the pop-up kneecap in the knee capsizes it. It is worth adding that in a situation where you are a few hours from any civilization (and probably 60 km from the nearest pharmacy / hospital), the trail is empty, and there is no such thing as GOPR in the country, thoughts turn to rather dark colors. Luckily, the kneecap returns to its place by itself and bravely, with the speed of an ant, we try to somehow get closer to the Ushgula. Coming down with an injury is not easy and it is not made easier by the ubiquitous rhododendron. If someone would like to repeat the route, it is better to choose the route around, which is described on maps.cz, quite unexpectedly, as: "Better train to Svaneti rigde" - I assume that it is better. My camera dies at the end of the day. That's a penalty for taking a smaller one instead of my favorite (RX100 instead of D-Lux 7). From then on, I take all the photos with my phone.

To sum up, we spend the first full day of vacation on:
- wondering how to return to the country and get the dog under control
- we wonder what to do with a dislocated kneecap on the pass and (assuming we survive) how to spend the next week
- mourning a broken camera

I would recommend.

Ushguli

On the Internet, they write that Ushguli are already masses, tourism and commercialism. I answer: not at all. The town is great, the neighborhood is great, everything is great. We sleep in some random guesthouse for ~ PLN 50 / person with two meals. I don't remember which one, but when you look at Google Maps, you can see that virtually every building is a guesthouse. Due to the knee, we decide to change the route and choose the easier option - we move along the main road (which we were supposed to bikepacking). On the way, we are joined by a local dog, which is indecently abundant here. It quickly turns out that this is not a day when the knee allows for long walks, so at ~ 5. We decide to become hitchhikers when we propose a ride by a passing car. It is worth adding that each passing us (more or less every 15 minutes) offers foundling. Private for free, minibuses for some small money. We come across a Russian-Georgian family who are just on a 3-day vacation, so they don't want any money from us. At noon, we check in to Mestia.

Mestia

Mestia is a local Zakopane, but in a positive sense. There are pubs, hotels, shops, many hiking trails and so on. We liked it the least of the whole trip, but it's definitely the easiest thing to do here.

I don't know where we sleep, but as always, finding a place is not a problem. We pay about PLN 30 for accommodation. On the same day, we also hit:

Chalaadi Glacier

Okay, I honestly admit that I don't know why people watch glaciers. Like real European tourists, we take a taxi, caught on the way, as far as possible, because the access is not very impressive. From the bridge where there is a parking lot it gets quite nice, but is it worth it? I do not know. It quickly turns out that the route covered on the first day raises the bar so high that it will be difficult to even get close to it. We see the glacier - a bit "meh", we see a valley - a bit "wow" and we return by taxi to Mestia. The next day we hit the local Morskie Oko, that is:

Korduli Lakes

Korduli Lakes is a classic, and their advantage and disadvantage is that they can be reached by jeep, which is by far the most popular form in terms of the ratio of passing cars to pedestrians. For us, it is a plus as we can walk with the shoe, but we have a backup in case of a disaster with the knee. We walk a bit by shortcuts and a bit by gravel, but it is worth adding here that neither the traffic is special, nor the road is particularly boring. It's even very, very good - so alpine service shop to side slopes.

The lakes are around 2750m above sea level and even though there are a few jeeps and a dozen or so people at the top, they are really good. I mean, the lakes themselves are more puddles covered with fudge and horses, but the views around are really strong. Especially when you add all these pets. I try to go a little further, on Korduli Ridge, but around 3200m above sea level either the trail is covered or it just looks like this and exceeds my sense of comfort. It is a pity, because not much is missing Google Street View suggests it's worth it. On this day, we spend the night in the wild, near the lakes. The only potential problem I can see with this is cows.

In the morning we start our hike further, through the Guli Pass (2847 m) to the tiny village of Becho, where we will consider what to do next with the holidays. None of this works, because the trail is covered with stones so much that walking with a large backpack, a weak knee and my fear of heights does not seem wise. We return to Mestia, counting on some transport on the way, but we find nothing. As rainfall is expected to go out of scale for the next few days, we decide to become 100% tourists. In the main square, we see a marshrutka that is just leaving (with 1 person) to Zugdidi, so we get in. Surprised by the driver asking where we want to go, we answer that Batumi. The vision of sunbathing is interesting.

To Batumi

There are many unexplainable things happening along the way that I don't even bother to pay attention to. The driver stops in strange places, he does strange things, I take strange people, as if he was just doing 5 parallel missions in GTA. It travels the last 15km at a speed of about 300km / h * between the cows, only to drop us off in Zugdidi on a square and inform us that a bus to Batumi will come to us in a moment. We pack into the bus, set off, make a loop around the city and 10 minutes later we are in the same place, in the same square. Why why? I don't know these questions. As planned, we sit down until someone tells us that we need to stop sitting. If there is any rule in Georgia that I stick to it is:

Not to think, not to rummage, sit - wait, and when they ask, say it.



* for this particular marshrutka the multiplier is much higherbecause it consists of 4 tires, a sheet and an engine.

Batumi

We reach Batumi in the evening, the downpour is waiting for us to sit down in a bar. They write on the Internet that this is the Caucasian equivalent of Las Vegas. As Vegas, next to Hong Kong, is one of our favorite cities in the world, we get a little hot and a little doubtful. In retrospect, I apologize to Batumi for doubting this - it's great and indeed, it's getting closer to Vegas.

Batumi is a city so bad it's perfect. I will not recommend it to anyone with a clear conscience, but we will return there on the 100% - especially considering the embarrassingly cheap flights from Warsaw and the fact that you can fly in swimming trunks, because the airport is right next to the seaside promenade. Seriously, walking along the promenade, we reached the beginning (end?) Of the runway. It's such a city that if you're into street photography, you can spend a week there without getting bored.

It is a city that combines large, modern hotels with a crumbling, impressive architecture of the past and blocks that look like a construction arbitrary. A city where nothing fits together, but at the same time does it so well that I don't mind at all. You can walk and look for flavors all day long.

We sleep on the 42nd floor of the Orbi City complex (Orbi Twin Towers). The view from the windows of our apartment "With sea view" is great:

If you need to know one thing about Batumi, it would be the fact that most of the hotels on the booking are not hotels at all, but so-called "condo hotels". It works so that you enter the booking, book accommodation in a building that looks like a hotel, you go to the reception, and there it turns out that the building is 150 mini-hotels. That different people have their own small investments there for several rooms and you settle accounts with them, and you only take the keys from the reception (after the reception calls him). This means that you can pat yourself on the booking of accommodation "right away" and it turns out that either no one will answer the phone from the reception desk or the reception building is gone and you have to chase the host on Whattsap - for Airbnb. In this way, we lose the first reservation.

After all, Batumi is great.

Kutaisi

In the morning we go to Kutaisi. We go out in front of the hotel, tell the taxi driver that we want to be in Kutaisi, because we have a flight the next day. The type takes us to some square where we are taken over by gentlemen with caps, like torn from the local counterpart of Peaky Blinders, and then it's a standard story: a driver stops at a service point to change a wheel, drops us off at some village shop, where another one intercepts us the driver (fast! no time for questions!) and PLN 30 and 150 km later, we check in to Kutaisi.

Here is a list of things that I think are worth seeing in Kutaisi:



Our greatest memory is Khachapuri, which in the 90% consisted of 3 types of cheese, and in the 10% - the actual Khachapuri. We spend the evening dying. I feel sorry for the keyboard to write more about this city.
We sleep in Hotel White Bridge, which has no special advantages, except that the price of PLN 37 / person includes a taxi transfer to the airport, 25 km away.

Is it worth it?

From Saturday to Saturday, we spend a total of less than PLN 2,000, but it is worth adding that we do not even think for a moment about the costs during this trip. An overnight stay in Batumi is PLN 350 for two nights and you can fly it with dignity at least 2-3x cheaper. We are so wasteful that in restaurants we take drinks instead of secretly sipping from a water bag in a backpack.

It is very worth it. People are nice, the views are great, the holidays are interesting. Probably not as good and luxurious as in such Cortina d'Ampezzo, but the question is what do you prefer. I could sit in a guesthouse's window in an Ushgula or even Mestia and watch what is happening outside the window all day long. However, it is a slightly different world than ours… yet.