It only took us two and a halft days to ride over the mountain pass and maybe it was a bit early for a rest day but we decided to stay one extra day in Akhaltsikhe to prepare our visa applications for the central asian states. Beside doing all administrative tasks we went out for a walk in the town and found the city library.
Wej couldn’t resist the temptation of visiting a Georgian library so we went in to have a look. It looked nice and there were quite a few visitors there.
Although being in a brand new library many of the books looked very old and worn and Wej said that that kind of books would have been replaced long ago in her library. The lack of resources is probably the reason for this but maybe some of the budget for the library building should have been allocated to the library’s content instead.
I would like to borrow a book about bicycle repair. Is this the right shelf??? 😉
The library has a staff of 8 people and we met a couple of them at a counter. One of them spoke very good English and Wej interviewed her about the library.
Many people ask as what kind of tools and spare parts we carry. My answer is only the things that are most necessary or hardest to find in remote places. We will always be able to find shops like this where we could get an extra tire or pedal if needed. Shops like this don’t sell high quality parts but we could probably get hold of stuff that will at least take us to the next shop selling parts with higher quality.
The following day we were going to cycle the 50 km from Akhaltsikhe to Bojormi. The road is of good quality, slightly downhill and going through a beautiful area so it was a quick ride.
Bojormi is an small town known for its mineral water and it has been a tourist attraction for almost a century. At the main street we ran into Leo who is the owner of one of the homestays recommended by the Lonely Planet guidebook. We followed Leo home and got a small little room in an apartment that had been turned into a guesthouse.
The following morning Leo’s mother cooked breakfast for us and we are lucky to be cycling since nobody who isn’t doing a lot of physical work during the days could eat that huge amount of food. Fried potatoes, huge pancakes, salad, fried eggplants, fried eggs, lots of bread, tea, coffee and some cake as dessert. That is the kind of breakfast a touring cyclist likes…. 🙂
As mentioned Borjomi is famous for its mineral water and in the city there is a park with wells where people can fill up their bottles for free. Empty bottles are conveniently sold almost everywhere.
When we went to the park I had to try the well with warm mineral water and I must say I didn’t really like the taste. It was too salty…..
Leo had recommended us to pay a visit to a local swimming pool with hot mineral water. It was a 3 km long walk along a trail into the forest behind the park. The pool was very simple and there were some other people there too. The water was not super hot and the pool was not well kept and being outside there were lots of leaves and algea in the water. The place was quiet and I enjoyed sitting in the shadow of a tree reading the only book I carry with me.
Wej fell and hurt her knee when passing a creek on the mountain a few days ago and since the pain hasn’t gone away completely we decided to stay one more day in Bojormi. We can’t enter Azerbadjan before June 6 which is the first day of our visa validity so by staying here for extra days we only cut our time in Tbilisi shorter.
We needed something to do during our extra day off the bikes and Leo offered to drive us to the ancient rock city of Vardzia some 120 km south east of Bojormi. We got company on the tour by Chuck who works with organic farming in Canada and who is in Georgia to hold seminars and training with local organic farmers. Chuck is also a touring cyclist and has done many tours in north america and we had plenty of topics to discuss.
Leo knows his part of the country very well and we stopped at many places along the way and he told the stories behind them.
Vardzia is located in a narrow valley that has seen invading mongol, persian and turk armies pass by and the local people built the rock city to hide in during times of unrest. The place ias absolutely amazing and there are hundreds of rooms and chambers carved into the rock and even a working monastery with residing monks.
Unfortunately it started to rain when we went up to the caves so we cut our visit short. Leo then insisted that we should go to the nearby pool with hot mineral water. This pool was also a very simple concrete pool but it was inside and a there was nothing around it. We were alone there and quickly changed into our swimsuits and slowly slowly went into the water that was extremely warm. We soaked in the water for a while and then started the long drive back to Bojormi.