Unfortunately it was not possible to cross from Turkey into Armenian as expected and we had to go directly to Georgia. All five vans met up as planned 5km east of Ardahan on the evening of the 3rd of May ready for an early morning start to the Turkish-Georgian border near Posof.

The border formalities leaving Turkey were completed in less than 30 minutes, those entering Georgia took two and half hours! These included..

  • A passport and visa check.
  • Having the wheels of the vans sprayed with disinfectant.
  • A cursory search of each van.
  • Purchasing "Road Tax" ($50-$100 depending on vehicle size).
  • Purchasing third party insurance ($20-$30 per driver).
  • An unintelligible additional charge of $7.
  • Waiting for important people to return from lunch or tea.

Contrary to expectations there was no currency declaration, but it was made very clear to us that failure to export the vehicles within 10 days would cause us lots of problems.

The road from the border to Ahalcihe was our first taste of the appalling road conditions in Georgia (apparently no road maintenance for 10 years). Some sections of "road" were so poor that speeds averaged 15kph.

We spent the night of the 4th of May in the main square Borzomi not far from a bust of Stalin. The town itself was very run-down, with many abandoned buildings. The town may be famous for the "faded elegance" of the wooden buildings but the emphasis should be on the faded! We did however find special "Easter Cakes" on sale. Les enjoyed his!

On the 5th of May we drove to Vardzia to visit the impressive medieval cave city and monastery. The 110km drive took over three hours with the road conditions varying between bad and "what road".

Having paid $0.25 to park and $3.00 to enter the cave city we felt entitled to stay the night.

Stephen Stewart.

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