28.04.2012 - 31.05.2012 27 °C
Whoa! It's been ages, you may have been forgiven for thinking we were kidnapped by the PKK, being held to ransom, which Dan has strong principles against paying, and hence we have been lost for eternity. But do not fret, that is not the case.
In fact we decided not to head to South East Turkey as we had originally planned because the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party, who have been fighting for an autonomous region for Kurds in the East of Turkey for 30 odd years) had very recently declared their intent to resume indiscriminate attacks. We only really made this decision in Istanbul and it kind of left us at a bit of a loose end, frantically reading the guide book to figure out where to go instead. It seemed in our timetabling we had seriously underestimated the amount of time it would take to get across Turkey - she's a big one. We decided to head south, to Egirdir, with its immense lake and massive mountains for a backdrop, and spent time sitting on a terrace overlooking the shifting clouds and resulting changing colours of the lake. We cycled around, through endless blooming orchards, and did a few days hiking on the St Paul's Way. A few other stops and we made our way east east. Overnight train, first class all the way, had our own fridge (!) and it cost 50quid for the two of us. Boom! And ridiculous hospitality from the other passengers on our carriage, who kept on barging into our cabin with tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, bread, home baking. So generous and interested.
Georgia has been a treat. The first country we have really had time to explore, after high-tailing it across Europe, and I much prefer this pace of travel. We were there for three weeks, so in an attempt to cover some highlights I am going to revert to bullet points.
- The feasts of food have been ridiculous, it seems they show their hospitality in the quantities of food they serve. I could write an entire blog about their bread, which is superb.
- The Caucasus mountain range is totally spectacular and absolutely massive. We have done some great hikes with a few scary side-effects - encountering the ferocious sheep dogs, protecting their flocks against wolves and casual passers-by and walking along a particularly muddy which had the unfortunate effect of accentuating all the bear prints, clear evidence of just how many bears there are in the park!
- The country has a really interesting history. Having fallen under the rule of gangsters after the collapse of the USSR, under the current president there has been quite a lot of reforms to get rid of corruption and develop the economy. But it seems to be taking place a bit haphazardly and with extremes. There is a massive construction boom going on in many places we have been to. Similar to Turkish rail, they dont do it in stages, all at once. Batumi had no footpaths, having all been ripped up and not yet replaced, and few sealed roads. So many hotels being built, although I am not sure where the money is coming from for all this, nor where the tourists will come to fill up all the hotels. And in stark contrast there are the small towns and villages. Incredibly rural and poor. Riding horseback through mud lanes of the villages. Cows, pigs and chickens roaming freely. Large gardens at each home, living, seemingly, totally off the land.
- There have been countless churches, so many 'nice spots', often with churches at their peak, or beers consumed in order for us to really have the time I frame of mind to appreciate them.
Below are some other pictures to give you a sense of a few things we have been up to and seen. Although they are mostly our 'nature' pics as I haven't got around to downloading the pics from the little camera which seems to be our 'urban' one. In order to keep up with the times we have purchased a netbook (as nowhere has computers these days, just Wi-Fi, kinda useless without a computer, and was becoming a bit of a hassle). Which means I reckon we should get better at postings, and for sure it will be easier to put up photos, everyone's favourite!
Finally, a smart friend shared his insights on a comment in our previous blog about the Dutch having big windows with no curtains which I thought I would pass on - 'It's a Calvinist thing about having nothing to hide and showing off that your normal, they've even got a funky word for it; Gezelligheid.'