Catching up: Part 1

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By now my loyal readers should be used to me starting every post with an excuse for why it's been such a long time since the last one. This post is no exception: I'm sorry you guys, I've been enjoying myself a lot these past few months and sometimes working on the blog appears to be just that: work.

Of course a lot has happened and a lot has changed within the last few months, maybe this bad habbit of mine will also change. I'll try to publish two or three posts in the next two weeks to bring you up to speed on my travels. To make a long story short: I've travelled with old and new friends, I've slowed down my pace, but enjoyed live even more, I fell in love and changed my plans radically …

I didn't write much about the people I met in the past three months, so I would like to dedicate this and the next post to my travel companions.

Wild Camping with Stefan in Turkey

Some of you may remember that my brother Stefan joined me on my trip through Turkey. We met up somewhere between Istanbul and Ankara and cycled the length of Turkey along the black sea coast. Looking back now I wish I would have taken another route and that I had taken at least another month for Turkey. The road along the coast is pretty boring and full of cars and trucks. By that time I had about five months of cycling on my back so I found ways of coping and actually enjoying myself. For Stefan it was a little bit different, because he flew from Germany to Ankara and expected to be in an adventurous country. Turkey is a nice country and we both love it, but we definately wouldn't call travelling through Turkey an adventure. Turkey is touristy, a lot of people speak German, the landscape is not that different from Europe and in general there are no extremes in Turkey. Like I said, this doesn't bother me at all, but I can see that Stefan never really got into the real touring spirit while we were in Turkey.

Awesome wild camping in Turkey

Fixing a bike using instructions from our Amazon Kindle

All of that changed when we entered Georgia. The weather got a lot better and suddenly we found ourselves in one of the most special countries that I have travelled so far. Hospitable and beautiful people, great food for carnivores and vegetarians alike, quiet roads, amazing cities and a huge variety of landscapes. It started on the first day when we crossed the Turkish border into Batumi, our first Georgian city. Batumi was not what we expected, but all in all the city was just ok. After Batumi however we were suddenly surrounded by subtropical climate with bamboo and palm trees all around us. What happened?

Cycling in subtropical climate in Batumi Georgia

Georgia happened! All of the pleasent surprises that Georgia had to offer during our stay made us realise how great it is to travel a country of which you don't know anything about. No stereotypes or cliches, little to no knowledge of historical or cultural facts. Just travelling with open eyes and ears. Wonderful! It's been a blast and Georgia moved up to #1 on my most favourite countries list.

In the small but touristy town of Mestia in the Georgian part of the Caucasus we met Thomas, and aspiring and inspiring cyclist who's on a test ride for his upcoming trip in two years. It was great to have two wheels more and it was great to exchange plans and dreams about travelling the world. We spent about a week together and had a really good time. Our time with Thomas helped Stefan to get out of his head a bit and it allowed me to cycle alone from time to time to spend more time inside my head :)

Besides that having Thomas with us meant I could convince Stefan to cycle (push would actually be more acurate, because we were pushing our bikes half the day) the Meghri pass which I couldn't have it were just the two of us. So far this pass is still the most memorable of this trip! It was not the highest, but it was the most challenging and rewarding one.

Stefan and Thomas riding downhill after a crazy day on the Meghri pass in the Georgian part of the Caucasus

Stefan went back to Germany after we parted ways in Kutaisi, Georgia. I had a great time, as usual, but for Stefan it wasn't always as good as it could've been. Riding alone through the Georgian mountains in the South was great, but I was also excited to cycle with my good buddy Chris again.

Mountain village on a 2000m plateau in the the South of Georgia

Chris' style of travelling is more similiar to mine, than that of Stefan. Chris is less of a princess when it comes to food and his mood is more stable.  Stefan however is more philosophically inclined than Chris and I can have endless discussions with him. And, of course, Stef is a nerd like me :)

The next part of the 'Catching up' series will be about my time with Chris in Armenia and Iran. Thanks for checking back ;)

For more pictures of Georgia, click here to check out the Flickr gallery.

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© 2014 Michael Haeuslmann