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Thread: Greece is the word..

  1. #129
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    Cracking RR ,, must get back to Greece on the paraffin pony , loved it
    Normal ,in an odd sort of way

  2. #130
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    Just caught up on this, great write up Rob

  3. #131
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    At this rate this’ll be a year long ride report!

  4. #132
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    Brilliant, keep up the good work.

  5. #133
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    Cheers folks.. will finish!

  6. #134
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    Epic in every way! Interesting how Turkey has changed.

  7. #135
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    Where were we?

    Oh yes. In Georgia. Before we get going again- I missed the opportunity to add a couple of photos.

    The end of Turkey meant the end of the GPS… leave the road?!!



    Brian’s photo of the border captures a little more of the madness than mine.


  8. #136
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    ბათუმში დაკარგული

    Right, so where were we before the intermission? Oh yes, having found our digs and being plied with food and a vat of wine on a Saturday lunchtime, we’re now wandering out into the fading afternoon of Batumi, Georgia, feeling slightly worse for wear.



    We wander around here and there. My replacement phone from Mary Poppins’ Top Box has just a few percent of charge on it. It is semi-useless for navigating anyway, I’ve got no maps on it or offline data. Normally I have a good sense of direction, even using the beer compass, but this combination of freely flowing wine and zig zagging has left me pretty much in the unknown.

    Trying to get some intel from the locals..



    I remember being told in the past “Never eat at a place where they have pictures of the food on the menu”. Don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see pictures of stuff.



    We stop and have a couple of beers in a mild haze



    Whatever it is, its slightly out of date.



    Signs of rain and looking a bit pissed..



    After we leave the bar we wander more and get separated. It’s now very dark and raining hard. No steet lights, no street signs. Lots of people milling around. Blade Runner part 3.
    I have no jacket. Just T-shirt, cargo shorts. I am soaked. On the positive side of things it is quite warm though so a bit peculiar.

    I decide to use my time quite positively so pit-stop to have a haircut whilst contemplating my continuing search. The girls in the salon think I’m hilarious (or hilariously odd, they didn’t clarify).

    Feeling refreshed – there’s nothing quite like a haircut – and with a new spirit of intrepid I begin my search again for the apartment. It doesn’t help that I haven’t got the address the place. I know it begins with a ‘K’ and sounds a bit like Kamikaze Street, but the verdict is no cigar for that.

    Before the phone completely runs out of battery I switch it off. Eek.

    Its now gone 10pm. after an hour or so more of fruitless wandering things really are getting late.. so I give up and go into a small hotel. The girl behind reception looks at my bedraggled state amusingly.

    “Hello. Do you speak English?” in my best BBC accent, slightly slurred no doubt.
    “Yes, I do” smiles the girl.
    “I need a room please” I ask.
    “Ah, yes of course” is the polite response.

    “Passport?” she asks.
    “I don’t have it” I respond.
    “Where is it?” She asks
    “It’s at my hotel” I say.
    “Where is your hotel?” she asks with a pensive look
    “Erm, you see, I don’t know” I say with a smile, chuckling at my own ridiculousness.

    Fortunately for me I guess, she finds this all quite amusing and with a shrug, singly bypassing all of that needless bureaucracy, places the the form carefully back under the counter. I’m handed a key.
    “Sleep well sir” she chuckles.

    I actually do sleep well. I dream dreamy dreams of something or other.


  9. #137
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    Sixty something or other Kamikaze Street

    The following morning I wake quite early and am as bright as a button. I wasn’t expecting that. I switch my phone on and get several beeps of texts. Where are you..? are you alright..? are you OK? I text back and cross my fingers… it is sent… “No battery, need address”. Quickly, I get a text back with the address.

    So, it turns out wasn’t actually Kamikaze Street but it was damned close.

    I settle up for the hotel with a different bemused smiling reception girl who has obviously been tipped off about the odd guy in number 135. I make my way out into the morning. The sun is out and it’s a bright, clear pleasant day. With the power of new information I have the address now written down and look to find a taxi. I find said taxi, and it is at this point I realise that addresses, nor roads in Batumi are not the strong point of taxi drivers. They are strong on beaded seat covers and cigarettes.
    He has to find two other taxi drivers who tell him where it is, with a third one bought in to the conference late on who points the other way and looks put out.

    After the conference finishes, and a short cigarette break to inspect the front of the taxi, a ten minute ride is taken and the pot holed road of our HQ comes into view.



    I pay the taxi driver pennies and wander in to the apartment to tell a highly amused Brian of how the previous night events unfolded.

    We hadn’t had a day off the bikes since Corfu and it seems like the right thing to do here.

    We carried on developing some of our ideas we’d thought about on the road of late. I’d read about a ferry from Georgia which could take us back to Bulgaria, so Brian, refreshed, has decided to take a walk out to see if he can get some information.

    I’m going to put my feet up. I lounge around for a while and watch Netflix.

    Comfy digs.



    Many hours later Brian returns. After long slog he’s found the shipping agent (closed). In other news he’s been attacked by a dog that has taken a lump out his jacket, but fortunately not a lump out of him.

    The agent will supposedly be open tomorrow so we will swing by again.

    The following day we head off to see the shipping agent. It is a fair walk to the port and quite an interesting one at that. Trying to get to the agent itself yesterday was an achievement. Brian had been sent from the docks to one place, to another place, and eventually found the agent in an anonymous apartment building with minimal clues to what it was. No wonder he was gone so long.



    Craft beer pub “Georgia Style..”



    A pitstop for a pint..





    One of the only street signs in the suburbs of Batumi. No, really.



    An excellent lunch of pressed sausage roll.. with a pint, naturally



    The do-it-yourself veranda extension seems to be all the rage in these parts.





    There’s nothing quite like the quality of a Bosh boiler



    Somebody lives here..



    The suburbs are just a touch different to the flashy centre of town.



    So at least we know the ferry exists and runs from here – there it is over the back. (there was some information on the internet about it running from a place called Poti which is 50 miles or so North).

    The shipping agency is in the anonymous apartment building with the Coca-Cola sign on the roof.



    One for the trainspotters.



    After the long walk across town we reach the place but it remains still closed.





    It says 10 until 6 but it isn’t open. This is all a bit of a puzzle. All part of the fun I suppose. eek.

    We return back to our apartment. The owners son is really helpful and calls the number and gets an answer. We are to go back tomorrow.

  10. #138
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    Thank you for the update, thoroughly enjoy your rambles !


    Happy New Year Rob.

  11. #139
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    It’s a good job you’ve got a good sense of humour, after that lot!

  12. #140
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    Cheers gents. Happy New Year!

  13. #141
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    We’re off to see the sea (eventually)

    In the morning, we head off to the travel agency on the bikes and weave our way through the crazy traffic. The agency is now open, and it is little more than a flat with a chair a desk and a couple of seats.
    Good news then.. the door was open and we could go in. Yep not the best picture of the agency, but a pretty dingy place. Light bulbs it seems are not in the budget.



    The agency fella was reasonably friendly. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, we’ve established that the ferry is leaving in the early hours of the morning tomorrow. We’ll need to come back to the agency tonight, at around 10pm, to collect our tickets, although they can’t be certain at what time; it’ll all depend how loading goes. When we’re called, we need to come back right away, immediately. And when we come back we need bring payment.
    Cash.
    In Euros.
    No cards (don’t be daft).

    We’ve a little more time to see Batumi so we wander. We stop for a traditional Georgian Breakfast of Khachapuri, which is a Cheese Bread with egg. Excellent stuff.



    “Hanging around down by the quayside, where the men dress as ladies..”



    There’s no MOT in Georgia, as I think I might have mentioned. If it rolls, you’re good to go. Huge numbers of cars roll around with bits missing, mostly front bumpers.



    I’d had a cursory look at trying to find a dentist for my tooth but without success, decided to leave it for a bit.

    Stopping for a rest. Where’s that smell coming from…?



    Fill up your own keg at the Supermarket. The first thing there at the entrance. Inspired..



    More MOT failures..



    In the centre of Batumi, they’ve put a lot of resources into making the place tourist friendly. In my reading about the country there seems to be a lot of controversy on how funds have been spent; spending on towers and finery when most of the population struggle. The contrast between in and out of town is something else.





    Georgia five-O runabout in the posh bit..









    Interesting fair ground ride in the middle of that thing…



    The mountains inland in the distance









    More MOT failures..









    Brian needs to get some local currency. In what we’ve read about trying to catch the ferry, they only take cash in Euro. Since we don’t have enough Euros it will have to be the local thing, changed up at a bank or one of the many change places here into Euro.



    After a while stood at the machine, Brian returns. Its got my card, he says and he’s got no money. Ah. We then establish where the branch of the bank is, so Brian hurries off to find out what has gone on, leaving me by the ATM to ensure it isn’t some sort of card scam, and some bloke doesn’t turn up to empty his bank account.

    Brian returns after half an hour or so. Whilst he goes to make his complaint, he finds his card, which it turns out hasn’t been taken by the machine. There is no elaborate scam, turns out the machine doesn’t take his card, so it just spat it out and harrumphed for a while, in which time Brian picked it out of the machine and forgot about it.

    All’s well then and it is a relief as I’d used most of my limit on the card I had to get cash to change. It would have been interesting to sort. We eventually changed money and we wander back to HQ to get ready to pack and wait about a bit for our call.

  14. #142
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    Came across this a few days ago. Just wanted to say a big thank you to Roberto, it just about saved my Christmas, what a great tale.

  15. #143
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikerking49 View Post
    Came across this a few days ago. Just wanted to say a big thank you to Roberto, it just about saved my Christmas, what a great tale.
    Thanks!

  16. #144
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    The people who put the sea in bureaucracy..

    Crumbs. Perhaps you’re getting the message, but it has been an incredible and drawn out faff around trying to get this ferry sorted out. Information is really limited and the internet definitely isn’t always your friend. But with a fair bit of application we’re sorted (well, we hope).

    Since we’ll be staying potentially until the small hours, we’ve said to the family that run the place here that we’ll pay for another night at the apartment. They’re very reluctant to accept the money and can’t really understand – if you aren’t staying the whole night then not to worry? Really a very hospitable people.
    It is the youngest lads 18th birthday this evening, so we’re to come along to the party. We’ll need to deny ourselves booze, which could be tricky.

    Back in the apartment we’re just about packed up and just lounging around in our smalls, when my phone rings. It’s about 5.30pm. “You need to come now, come right now” says the voice. Some middle of the night that is.

    Washing is quickly retrieved and a last look taken around the unusual but really charming place. Sad to go.





    So we quickly get our stuff together, go and retrieve the bikes from the neighbours, load up and explain to our hosts that we’re leaving now. We insist to pay for the apartment and if they don’t want the money it can be a birthday present for the youngest. This goes down well and they return with bottles of wine, spirits and some plum sauce which we liked when we sat down to eat. We strap them haphazardly to our bikes, say our goodbyes and are off.
    We collect our tickets at the now familiar shipping agency. Outside there’s a chap on a Honda with a Slovakian plate that is catching the ferry. We introduce ourselves and head down to the ferry together.

    As we reach the gate for the ferry, one of the bags of booze splits and plastic bottles roll off the bikes and around the floor, which we retrieve awkwardly, wondering what the situation is with a ‘bring your own’ arrangement to the ferry. It was no matter. It’s all pretty disorganised and after we show our paperwork we’re directed to the side of the ferry. After a short time, we’re rolling on to a pretty much empty lower cargo deck and getting our bikes strapped up for three days at sea.





    Once onboard, and after a fair walk in the ship, we reach the reception. The purser, a hard nosed but petite blond lady in her 40’s, hands us our room keys and a free hat. She turns out to have a very dry but good sense of humour. I ask her when the captain’s cocktail party is and she sees the funny side.

    We will need to wait to complete all of the customs requirements and this could be late, possibly around 11pm. By now it is just before 7pm. A quick getaway from the harbour this will not be, we’d best settle in.

    Loading up, which looks to be done at a mind-numbingly sleepy pace.



    Unpacking, a view, some assembled grog in the cabin.



    And a bit more grog for luck..



    The passenger area is pretty small. There’s a fairly large enclosed deck outside; inside there is a café with a bar (but it is closed until later) and a small lounge with a TV and DVD player. Despite the bar being closed on a happier note they have this little automated chappie, which takes Euro coins, fortunately of which I have a bucketload rattling around in the tank bag.



    Happy times.



    We’re treated to a pretty sunset.



    Later.. much later… by night.



    We wait in the cabin, and wait some more. Just before 2.30am the following morning the door gets a knock and are summoned down to the ramp at the back of the ship, where we wait for twenty minutes.



    We’re then summoned to the custom house, so wander down the ramp and off to the building. Inside there’s a committee of folks. Passports and vehicle documents are submitted. They also ask to see our insurance documentation. Remember I said don’t ignore the insurance? That would be why. I wouldn’t have fancied not being compliant. Friendly they did not seem.
    All is good and we trundle back onto the boat and off to our beds.

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"Its about being a grown up hooligan - and if that means a dark visor, remus open pipe and a bit of speeding out of town then all well and good" Kaister 2005

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