Surami to Samtredia 125km
To Batumi 115km
For three days Fiona has been making a strange "kachink" noise on the left side. I've searched for the source. I've unloaded the bike. Checked the trailer. Lifted, spun, tipped, cleaned. I cannot find the source of the "kachink". Today I stopped for a hot chocolate, (suddenly every roadside stall is selling coffee and hot chocolate). The "kachink" has shifted to the right side, as have the coins from my pocket...... Doofus.
Another valley, with more downhill. This time the river is a bit bigger, but with all the autumn colours it's very pretty. Too bad about all the big trucks heading for the ports on the Black Sea. And at the bottom of the hill.....motorway like dual carriage way.....flat as a pancake..... and busy.
I found a funny little town, just off the main drag, and it had a hotel. Noone spoke English, but I was lead to the hotel, ushered to a restaurant, taken into the kitchen to choose my meal, and given far too much to eat..... I'm sure I was the first western visitor the town has ever had...... and those who weren't leading me...... stared.
Now, I'm cycling through linear rural villages. It's really nice cycling. There are ducks, geese, chickens, goats, sheep, cows and pigs, sharing the road with eighteen wheelers, ox carts and horse and carts, and the road is narrow. There are lots of fruit trees, ladened with fruit. It's all such a contrast to the rural scenes in SE Asia, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, where everything is being cut down and burnt. These people are so much better off, and I'm left wondering what causes the difference?
Wow. The Black Sea. A first for me. And cycling along the shore is so much more attractive than along the Caspian. Perhaps because it's more settled development wise. The Caspian was all unfinished building sites (sanctions), while here, although still a little rough by western resort standards, everything seems to have been here for some time, used and cared for parks, and not necessarily as commercial, with no obvious outlet stores and the like. But it's very quiet. Summer holiday season is over. The crowds gave gone home. Just how I like it.
After an unexpected uphill, that did open up a view of the coast, and also created a traffic backlog as the big trucks were reduced to a crawl, I drop down to a very pleasant cycle track, and cycling into Batumi is from there, very similar to cycling from Mission Bay into Auckland. Batumi too is a resort town, a very old one, with cobbled streets and lots of hotels, along with beach promenades, and all the side show attractions, but they're all being dismantled for the winter months. Once again, I'm happy not to be in a crowded holiday resort. By luck, I find a nice clean, cheap hostel, apparently really well rated. Suits me. Now to find the Irish Pub that will be showing the RWC Final.
I also need to find a new spring for the suspension on my trailer. I ask the hostel staff. "Spring". How do you mime that? I get across that it's for my bike.... sort of.... and they give me directions to a bike shop... the only one apparently. It's a short walk, and I'm out of the tourist zone. No more cobbled streets. These ones are dug up and never resealed, but it keeps the traffic slow. I find three bike shops. The one that looks the most promising, with containers of bits and pieces, are not interested in helping me.... "I can't understand, therefore I'm not interested...". The other two deal only in new stuff, expensive, specialised gear. But across the road, and for at least a km, are hardwear/home improvement stores. I perform my mimes in several of them, with no luck. Then one guy writes the word for "spring" in English and Georgian script for me. Now things get easier, but still no luck. Then I'm directed around a corner. ... into a sort of market for all things toolish. I'm ushered again, a tourist in our market? I'm passed from stall to stall.....and then a guy produces exactly what I want, and he offers to cut it to size......woohoo. Anotger successful Adventure Now. Where the heck am I? Which way to the hostel?
I'm amped. I've convinced some other tourists to join me at the "Quiet Woman" tonight for the RWC final. I can't believe how amped NZ is. My Facebook is full of ABs support. It's going to be a great night.