Good and bad

Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
Ramada, Ganja

Flag of Azerbaijan  ,
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Checked out of our lovely hotel (they didnt understand a word we said, and not did we understand what they said!) after a breakfast of whatever they chose to bring us. Turned out it was a pizza/pancake thing with a cheese filling, cut into wedges like a pizza. Fairly heavy, but I gess it sets you up for a good days work. Not that we have seen anyone working (other than watching sheep graze) but plenty in restaurants drinking solidly. Drove off in the rain.
First incident was running into snow, just shows that its still winter where we are. The road wasnt as bad as some we found in Georgia. Got to the bypass for Tbilisi, and thought we would avoid the capita, if the second city was anything to go by. Saw a couple of lorries go down the by pass, so why not. Road was OK for the first stretch, but then it just ran out. Dont know what had been done to it, but we sat for a while and wondered whether to backtrack all that way or risk it. How far does the track last? Eventually we pushed on, going slowly and avoiding whatever potholes we saw, but investigating some very closely. There's not a lot of suspension on the car you know!
After about 10 miles it returned to tarmac again, and we whizzed along, still avoiding potholes, but at least you could see them this time!

Got to the border, and there we queued to get out of Georgia. While we were waiting in the queue, a ppoliceman came along, breathalysing all the drivers. As I was on the left, I got breathalysed. The trouble is, it was positive! He made me blow in about 10 times, and every time it came back positivee. The only think we would put it down to was a Fox's Glacier mint I was in the priocess of eating. He left us alone checking other drivers, then came back and this time it occasionally was OK, and occasionally not. He really didnt know what to do, but eventually went off and left us alone. Cant imagine why they test the passengers, when all the locals were knockking it back at a hell of a rate.
Got to the front of the queue and presented our passports to a surly guy, who scowled all the time, scanning them and stampting them. Then with a broad smile he passes tham back and says goodbye!
Thats just getti8ng out of the country.

Into Azerbaijan which I'll let Martin tell you about - he did all the work, I just sat there as the passenger (and guarded the car!)

Off into Azer, where the roads are much better, whizzed along with no potholes, making great time, catching up on schedule. Until we got stopped for speeding. Fortunately the guy behind, who was about to overtake us, pulled in too, and he spoke English, and knew the traffic cop, so after a long discussion about the car, we were let off with a warning!

On towards Ganja, which has about 20 difefrent spellings. Then the road, whioch had been 3 cars wide so you could overtake if it was safe (and Azeri's are a lot safer drivers that Georgians, but the overtaking was still hairy!) came to a stop and we were on a detour. Mud and potholes everywhere! So back to a snails pace, although still some drivers made a third lane (and overtook directly into oncoming traffic) for about 10 miles. By this time we were absolutely exhausted, so pulled into the first hotel we found, a Ramada. Quite expensive, but boy the luxury is worth it. Great night's sleep.

Mileage 277

Martin's moments: 
The falling snow was actually quite heavy and the road began to sludge up,which given gradients could have proven pretty dangerous.As was the missing road around Tibilisi (more "i"'s than you can shake a stick at).Felt as if I was back in a trials car.Have to say at this stage I was having severe misgivings about whole trip - would the roads now be like this?If so we were  not going to make it.
The set up at the border defies description - thankfully one of Azer police lads took a liking to car and remembered me through process,so I had a point of reference.Goodness knows what relation papers I handed in bear to those that came out.The breathalyser incident was a bit amusing,particularly when I was not the one breathing in to machine.I was convinced bloke had an on/off switch and was waiting for a back-hander.gave up when Roger showed him the Fox's mints.Would have been interesting to make charge stick when stering wheel was on other side of car.
At least I know now where those blue camouflage fatigues come from which you get from military surplus stores.One size fits nobody in particular.Next time I drive through this part of world I will be dressed as a full Admiral - that'll get me through.
Into Azer and hang on...its not raining,roads join up in the middle and reach both sides and the countryside is much better.Verges of roads used as grazing for caattle and apparently also menfolk who gather at least in pairs and all wear the national costume.Black jaacket as seen modelled in most UK High Streets.
Our police stop - "50 dollars" was I think headed off by bloke in Merc. who pulled off with us but greeted police with hand shake and then engaged us and policeman in conversation about car.Eventuall we were waved off.The car is the star and fines are for visitors.
But after emerging at the end of the day as we emerged on the Azer.side from a 10 mile unmade road - there in front of us was a glorious hotel and yes,you have guessed it - a Ramada! Hoisted on my own moutard.We are making most of stop as we are ahead of schedule and have issues with timing of attempted crossing to Turkmenistan across Caspian.
We used the time this morning (yes this is the next day) to fix w/wiper again.I think problem all along was dodgy connection on motor and -it is not raining.
I'll stretch the Abdullah and Ivan saga a little longer - ratcheting the tension.Bit like driving a Morris.How the blazes we did 277 miles yesterday is a mystery.

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Peter R on

You may need my snow chains yet ! Should I post them ?

Peter & Sue H on

Bullshitting your way out of a speeding ticket and a drunken navigator charge, now you're both high on Ganja. Sounds like a normal day in paradise !!!!

Ian Bond on

High Guys - what a fantastic trip ! Martin, please tell me more about the car and any modifications etc. How's it going ?

See you when you get back


David Williams on

Remind me to eat Fox's mints when driving home from the pub! good luck with the ongoing journey.

Polly on

Sounds like a very eventful day. Really like the picture of the horse crossing the road. Ramada hey! I've been to a Radisson today. 22 degrees here today, a different season away from your snow. Well done

Peter Wightman on

Forget about scenery description. Last posting with the pictures gives a fair idea.
Pity the idea of Rhodesian strip roads never got to some of the remote pot holed roads you are wending your way upon.

Emily on

Great photos! Keep up the good work

Helen & Graeme on

Hmm ... didn't know Fox's Glacier mints contain alcohol. Must remember that. Keep driving around the potholes. And keep safe.

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