Day 34. Friday, September 1. Travel day to Tbilisi
The supermoon looked as fabulous from our hotel in Tashkent last night (one night after its peak) as it did worldwide. A shining send-off at the end of the first half of our ride to Istanbul.
This morning was more mundane as we cyclists, bike boxes and other gear caused a bit of a traffic jam at the Uzbekistan Airways check in for our flight to Tbilisi. They coped; and the airport profited from our coffees which cost the equivalent of NZ$7 each.
I’ve never seen such huge discrepancies in all prices between rural parts of a country and its capital as we’ve biked around this one. And since there are 7,200 som to the NZ dollar all transactions seem huge. One memorable evening I became an instant millionaire by extracting 10 x 100,000 notes from a cash machine (value NZ$138).
Our three-hour flight to Tbilisi took us over the Caspian Sea and, on its west coast, Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Sadly, as I noted in yesterday’s post, that’s as close as we’re getting to that fascinating country on this trip.
The moment we landed Georgia felt instantly quite a different country from Uzbekistan – hillier, greener, more European, wealthier, more English spoken, even more relaxed. Even getting ourselves, bikes and belongings city-side at the airport was far speedier and organised. Yep, here’s another bike box photo…
Our hotel is on a quiet hilly side street overlooking the city centre. After lunching on a delicious Caesar salad in a nearby café with a table surveying the neighbourhood, we set about reassembling our bikes in one of the hotel’s buildings, which turned out to be a small theatre….with, strangely, a deep well (with water far down) right beside me.
Never before have two of my great passions mingled this way. Can anyone think of a play featuring bikes? (…other than stationary bikes in gyms, perhaps?) Could this be my next challenge…?
Meanwhile, we’re back on our bikes tomorrow for four days of riding plus a rest day in a loop to the east of Tbilisi, then we return here for a day before setting off southwestward to Turkey.