Another week on the road, and summer is starting to get us down! Jim can’t cope with the heat, and I’m not much better!
We have thrown ourselves into early starts to avoid the scorching temperatures, but it’s been hitting 30°C by 9.30am, so even getting up at 6am doesn’t avoid much. We have also had to give up on camping as it has just been too hot. We had an awful last night in Georgia lying in the tent with sweat pouring off us, unable to sleep or move, and realised that we needed Aircon.
On our final Georgian day we also got another two punctures as we slowly climbed up to Lagodekhi. But crossing the border went ok, just lots of waiting around and having to convince the guards we could take our satphone across. We also had a few locals ask us if they could take a photo of us, fame and fortune must be coming our way!
Our first impression of Azerbaijan was very nice, massive, empty, brand new road speeding down the valley with the Caucasus mountains on our left. However this was quickly ruined when we pulled into Bakalen, the first town, which was overwhelmingly busy and we got accosted by begging children grabbing our handlebars which was awful.
We hurried through and on the next nice countryside stretch bumped into two cyclists doing the reverse of our trip! Great to swap tips on the road ahead and behind.
We spent a few days winding along the bottom of the Caucasus mountains, amazing views of the snow topped peaks as we sweated up and down the hills in the valley. I discovered baklava and other Azerbaijani sweets and pastries and we started drinking liters and liters of Fanta and coke every day, resulting in some rather bad sugar highs and lows. (Fanta comes in some different and awesome flavours in other countries and we are trying them ALL!).
We only did one nights camping as it was just too hot to not shower and the Aircon available in hotels was too much of a draw. Luckily the hotels and restaurants were pretty cheap. At night you can hear the jackals screaming which is pretty terrifying!
Then the big green mountains and hills became forests (yay, shade!), before turning into a load of deserty/grassy hills. Golden brown peaks in every direction, with steep climbs and exhilarating descents. We crawled through this totally unshaded land until finally seeing the sea reaching Baku via a 5-lane motorway.
In Baku we got ourselves set up at a hostel, and have been applying for the next set of visas. We will sort out the bikes and our kit and have a bit of a (well earnt?) rest.
Jim’s words – Boiling, Azerbaijan, Hello, Bazar, Walk, Desert and Baku.