VAN LIFE GEORGIA - Driving CRAZY Mountain Roads to MESTIA
We're Marianne and Chris and we've been travelling full-time since 2018. We're currently spending a few weeks in the country of Georgia, a country with fantastic mountain views, crazy roads and even crazier driving! You can't see, what is that! And let's not forget unusual architecture, delicious food, and cows on the road! Good morning we've woken up here in Batumi and today we were going to go to the botanical gardens, and then drive on to the city of Kutaisi, but ! After we had lunch yesterday in the restaurant and the lovely waitress told us about a place, way up in the mountains that was magical and we could not miss it! Called ..... Mestia We've decided that we're going to drive to Mestia today and it's probably about six hours drive. The sun is just peeking through, this is our little spot that we slept next to the tower, we slept here when we first arrived in Georgia, Trudy is all ready! So i think we should probably hit the road, because we have a bit of a long drive ahead of us this morning.
It's a bit of a skill getting these under there! Almost forgot to close the back window! It wouldn't be the first time we've driven off with the back window open! okay we're off! Right flight time according to that .... Five hours! Time check? A quarter to nine! How many extra hours will Trudy take up in the mountains? Two? Poor Trudy! Right we're off! One of the things you have to see if you come to Georgia is mountains, and beautiful mountain roads, and when we looked online after talking to the girl yesterday in the restaurant. We decided that we had to do this route. So we've just parked up, this is the area where we were staying for my birthday. We just thought we'd pop to the shop grab a bit of breakfast, pop to the cash point to get a bit of cash out in case they don't have cash points up in the mountains, which is possible.
Put ice cream in the freezer that's now working! Okay there's a cash point over there ..... so we'll go there first! okay cash point done there's a little supermarket here okay shopping done! Let's hit the road again should we go and buy two apples to put them on the camera to show how healthy our diet is? No! So breakfast! they look like donuts, let's just try one .... Yeah they taste like little donuts with some chocolate in ! That should give us a bit of energy for breakfast this morning! So first impressions at the moment ..... Beautiful views already and we've only just left Batumi. Oh there's somebody on the wrong side of the road coming at us! Actually we just saw a high-speed police car so maybe that's why the guy was on the wrong side of the road?! So the first part of the journey today is drive up to Poti which is 34 kms away.
Another seaside town here on the Black Sea coast of Georgia. Can you keep a straight face saying the word 'potty'? Potty? Where'd you live Potty! What are you doing? I'm going potty! When we were walking around the Batumi yesterday there was a lady handing out flyers, with travel information about PCR tests saying that all tourists after 3 days have to have another PCR test. After looking on the Georgian foreign office website, it actually says that if you haven't had a vaccine, then yes you do need to have a PCR test within after 72 hours of arriving in Georgia. However if you've had two vaccines and you have proof that you've had two vaccines, then you don't! And because we've had two jabs we don't need to take another PCR test. And all of the signs as you drive around are in Georgian alphabet, and English which is a good job because otherwise we wouldn't have a clue where we're going! Don't be surprised if you see cows walking along the road.
We just saw pigs walking down the road i wasn't quick enough on the camera! But there are not only cows but also pigs walking down the road! And yes we've just seen chickens on the road too ! The area around Poti is very flat, and lots of water, there's lots of rivers and lakes, and because we've got a long drive into the mountain, still another sort of four over hours we thought we'd fill up with fuel, whilst we're in a big town. More cows in the road! And there is a Gulf station, let's go and do our first Georgian fuel stop! So we are just filling up here at the gulf station, they actually fill fill it up for you. So we've just topped up you know it's about 3 per litre, so that's probably about ..... 80 pence? (70 pence) Round two! 3 hours and 50 minutes to go! Oh the baby cows! So i have to say out of all the places i've been, so far Georgia has more wildlife or farm animals wandering down the road than anywhere else ! Literally every corner you go round, there is a cow, a pig, a chicken or a dog or a horse on the road! So for the last mile or so down this road, there's this yellow i suppose fence posts? by the side of the road, and they just keep going on and on, and i can't work out what they're for? So one thing we've noticed on our journey this morning, and we've been driving for an hour and a half two hours, is there is very little or no rubbish by the side of the road. I love how they have road works with no signs or no warning that they're coming up! This is roadworks Georgian style! A dug up one side of the road, It's a little bit narrow ...... oh my lord, we have to go that side ...
What happened the road? It just finished that's the main road, we'll have to go around this way. Okay we've just turned off from the town, and now we're slowly heading up towards the mountains. Can you drive on your side of the road ?! Why are they on the wrong side of the road? Yeah the driving in Georgia is definitely more challenging than some other countries that we have been to. And the road conditions ..... There is a lot of pot holes, so randomly people are just weaving.
And some roads just stop! So it's the beginning of the valley up into the mountains! We've just pulled over we just thought stretch our legs, make a coffee! it's 12 o'clock! It's definitely coffee time ! Stretch legs time! Because my backside is asleep! oh, we haven't stopped in a particularly scenic place, but it's good! Okay coffee is made! Onwards we go! We've literally just started the drive into the mountains and already the views are amazing! This valley ...... wow! It's amazing isn't it? Wow! You can see the road going all the way along the side of the mountain there. It is not for the faint-hearted these roads! But absolutely breathtaking! Wow if you come to Georgia you have to come and do some of these mountain roads.
Driving along, i just keep getting glimpses of this turquoise blue lake down in the valley down there. Looking at the forecast today they did forecast rain but it doesn't look like it at the moment, the sky is still blue, i think we're being very lucky with the weather today for this drive. You probably can't see this but right up on the mountain up there, there's a waterfall coming down the side of the mountain there.
honestly absolute stunning drive. So along the road there's lots of tunnels that have been created, but as you drive along you can see the old roads, there's one coming up here, look you can see the old roads that go and hug the side of the mountain there. oh my gosh we're just coming through the tunnel and it's pitch black! And on the other side there was a herd of cows! What? That's just crazy! We're just driving along and i just saw a very cool looking bridge, that i thought would go and have a little look at! Okay so there is the bridge. Look at this! It's looking a bit rusty love! Going over the river here. Oh it's bouncing up and down love! Stop bouncing it ! i'm not on it! Hello! It's good I feel like I am on Indiana Jones ! Oh my lord! This is a bit of a crazy bridge! The guy just signalled to say it's okay, go, go, go, it's okay! flipping hell, it creaked! Oh my god! Look at this bridge! Marianne, how are we doing? Oh there's other people coming on it, although he looks like he's waiting for us to get off it.
There might be a weight restriction! Lets take a selfie There you go we survived the bridge! It was a little bit bouncy! He had a big smile! Yeah i think he was stopping to make sure we were all right, and had a massive smile! Okay welcome to the road! That's the end of the road! It's the end of the road! I think they forgot to tarmac that bit! Hey there's a tunnel there ..... where does that go? Look at the scaffolding on that look at that! Isn't that amazing?! We've still got 70 kms to go, it might take a while on these roads. It is stunning! So we've turned off again, we've got 61 kms down this little road here. Don't get too not close ... I can't hear you! The noise of the river is too loud! We are just out of Trudy ... The noise of this water!
It is just crazy ! Look at that! Look at this tunnel ..... It is just carved out of the rocks there's no support there! It's literally just rocks Wow! Crazy people cycling these roads! But the rock formations are amazing! Look layers of really lovely looking rock, Oh bits of road crumbled away a little bit there. As with all mountain roads, just be aware you might go around the corner and see a rock on the road, or a cow, or both! Construction going on, we're just going through the village of Nakra and i think there's only one building here?! Is that it? Yep .... that's it! The last building had a toilet with the door open! And the man was sat on the toilet! I don't really think he was expecting a girl to be looking in at him !! Holes in the road! We just had a lunatic white vehicle that just overtook us on a corner, and no word of a lie was about half a second a second from hitting the oncoming traffic! Why do people do that? Don't do that! We've been letting everybody pass anyway. It doesn't matter how far we drive up this road the views just get more breathtaking! And we've got another 50 minutes to go and 33 kms! Oh it's actually collapsed there look, it's lower on this side.
Oh my lord! And then there's cows on the road! What the hell! Good God! There's some crazy people on the road. There's a family of pigs and piglets ... There's another example of the road collapsing there ....
mind the height difference! One side of the roads, is at least six inches lower than the other side ... Come on cows, how many of you? Where are you going? Daisy, Buttercup, Primrose, you stood right in the middle of the road. Look at that! What is that? Why is the road like that? It's collapsed! Middle of August, I can see snow on top of the mountain up there. How high are we? We're about 1,400 - 1500 meters at the moment. So we had to stop and take a picture, because it was just such an amazing view, but as soon as we heard the rocks crumbling just on the side here we were like okay let's not stay on this little ledge! It's a sign! This is the end of the proper road? It's the end of the road! A bit of road repair going on. I think they've had a mud slide here.
In fact they have, A mudslide there and they're clearing it up. Oh it's official there's no road! I think this is just because of the mudslide, yep! you're going to have to wait because i'm coming through! Thank you So we're coming down, and you can see on the top of this mountain here there's actually a glacier ! We did read that there is a couple of famous glaciers in this part of Georgia. And there's one right up there, I don't think i've ever seen a glacier before? Have you? No. Come on guys, hey cows! More cows in the road! Just go through the village before we get to our destination, look at that church. Oh there's a pig on the road! Hello.
So we're just coming over the brow of the hill, and i'm pretty sure in the distance there, that is our final destination Mestia, or if not it's very very close because we've only got 3 kms to go! So we've arrived in Mestia there's a guest house there, now we're going to try and find somewhere to park up. Let's just keep going and then we can always turn around and come back. So we've just parked up, we've had a little look there doesn't seem to be many parking places in the town itself. So we've just googled camping, and it seems like there's a hostel and campsite, about 10 minutes down the road. So we're going to go and check it out and see what we can find.
So we've just driven a few minutes more and i think that this is actually the town of Mestia! It looks much bigger and i can see a parking sign! Which is another good thing. More cows! So we're right in the town centre now by the looks of it ...... it looks a very cool place! Hostel camping is it up or down? I don't know? So Marianne's with google translate has just gone to see if she can ask somebody, whether there's parking in town or whether there's a restaurant that would let us stay if we eat, or any other advice! What's the answer ? The answer is the camping is closed because there are no tourists! So I said - i'm a tourist! Okay so we've parked up, and we're going to go and see if we can find a restaurant with a car park, or something .....
There is not a lot of parking in town?! Oh there is parking here! Okay ...... we got a plan! That way! Right just around the block, turn left at the spar and we're good! There we go! We've made it round. Find somewhere to park up here, Just by the park.
Lots of little restaurants here to have dinner tonight, it's all good! We hope you enjoyed this episode, If you did please consider clicking that subscribe button below, and giving us a thumbs up! We'll see you on the next episode as we explore this wonderful town - Mestia.