Thursday, 30 July 2015
Thursday, 23 July 2015
Tuesday, 21 July 2015
Sunday, 19 July 2015
Just got to sit tight and wait now, making a nuisance of myself to Vika on the phone until she says yes. She's the dame with the game and although I have the entry stake I don't know where the table is or which pack of cards we're playing with.
Saturday, 18 July 2015
On board the Azerbaijan registered Karabakh. . Taken onto the bridge I meet the captain. And crew. . A happy go lucky bunch it seems.
I woke on Thursday morning to find I was partly mistaken. We were indeed stationary, but far out to sea. Strangely the Karabakh seems to shrug off the movement of the waves sitting motionless at anchor, the wind and water unable to disturb it's bulk. With the trains on board it seems there is enough weight to steady it's movement.
We had been stationary since I woke. The crew spent the day hosing the ship down and in the process giving my bike a wash under the runoff from the deck. I hope a salt water shower doesn't cause it any problems as by the time I realised, it was already as wet as it was going to get.
The engines have been run up to speed, their huge torque making the ship shudder as the levitation awakes. Maybe we will progress again today?
It seems we have spent the day sheltering in the lea of a spit of land east of Baku from a strong northerly wind. It remains to be seen when we actually make a run for it across to Aktau.
Woken to the rumble of diesel engines and the anchor chain clanking the lump of metal at its end up from the seabed. Looks like we will be underway today. A cooler cloudy morning. I was awake a few times in the night and a single pesky mosquito buzzed around my ear for a while. . It won't be feeding on anyone's blood again.
Well under way. Under cloudy skies with a little rain and a brisk wind. The green Caspian making a valiant attempt to look more like the north sea than the exotic eastern waters of travellers imaginations. The Karabakh still failing to be troubled by the rolling waves as it ploughs it's course.
Lunch was a thin soup with barley and vegetables followed by chicken wings with potato and peppers.
I must be getting bored! I'm reporting on the menu! The Caspian has turned to a deeper blue and the ship now has more of a battle at its prow to part the rolling swell as we cross the widest part of the voyage to Aktau. The Karabakh seems to have come to some agreement with physics that a ship should at least ride the waves and appears to have begrudgingly admitted some leeway to nature.
I passed the afternoon chatting with Marco as he explained his understanding of quantum physics, we lightheartedly discussed the belief in cosmic ordering and the expanded conscience enriched with the benefit of travel.
Woke after a good nights sleep to calm waters. The Karabakh it seems won it's battle with the waves. Checking the gps on my phone, we appear to be just off the coast of kazakhstan. I guess we'll arrive in Aktau later this morning, assuming there is a berth available
We have been anchored off the coast of kazakhstan for just over an hour now. Aktau is off the starboard side, tantalisingly close and yet so far. . We are waiting for the port authority to give clearance to enter. I read a lot of accounts of travellers waiting for days for that to happen. I hope I don't have to report something similar!
In port . . Confined to cabin please
Customs, immigration and military on board. Passport returned.
But still not been allowed to disembark
Monday, 13 July 2015
Baku . .The windy city.
Saturday, 11 July 2015
But with a high 30° temperature and a strong gusty side wind blowing for the duration, I spent all my concentration on simply staying on said tarmac rather than on the unfinished sides.
A modern busy city with a plethora of high end motors rumbling through the sea side streets. Tall glass buildings and expensive hotels on the sea front. An obviously wealthy town that contrasts with the countryside farmers ladas and one horsepower carts.
Sunday, 5 July 2015
No point crossing the border into Azerbaijan at the moment. I've read and been told of numerous issues in Azerbaijan and while I'm not one to worry too much about other peoples experiences, recent reports have suggested its not an easy place to be.
With my Kazakhstan visa not valid until the 13th July I would effectively be stuck in Baku for a week. My mistake in getting the visa dates, but hey I didn't know better at the time - Travel is an education amongst other things. Also I understand the authorities only give 72 hour vehicle permits on entry whatever the entry visa says, so it all makes sense to sit tight for a while and travel to Azerbaijan once I have an exit strategy.
In the meantime living is cheap in Tbilisi. Its a bit of a pain living in a city as a country boy at heart I miss the open space, but it is what it is and I'll move on Monday to a place close to the old town where I can relax and set myself up for the next stage.
Walking around I have found lots of interesting places and investigated a bit of the heritage of the place. Sharp contrasts between rich and poor from new Mercedes to beggars on the street.
Crossing the road is like playing "frogger", but waiting for the traffic to stop even with a green crossing light isnt going to happen. Just go for it and dodge the cars/vans/buses/trucks across a 6 lane road.... easy!
So. not much more to tell at the moment. I've looked around and seen the sights. Its a case of sitting it out, checking out the local cafes and browsing the shops. I've hardly spent any money in the last week and don't see that changing much. I need to do a little bit of maintenance on the bike, but will sort that out next week.
One other decision is that I will take the more northern border crossing. It sounds far more interesting than the motorway/main road option further south. I've pore booked a small hotel in Baku for next weekend until Tuesday, when hopefully I can sort out the ferry across the Caspian. (again more horror stories about that trip) - but I'll let you know how my experience went after I've done it.
Hanging around in Tbilisi is a bit of a pain to be honest. If I was sat on a campsite in the country I would be happy to stay put for as long as it takes, but a hotel room in the city isn't my idea of fun. .. Moving on Monday will put me close to the prettier centre of Tbilisi so at least I can wander to a cafe/bar and sit in the afternoon shade.
Thursday, 2 July 2015
Well after realising my Azerbaijan visa is not valid until monday the 6th I have a chance to explore Tbilisi a bit more. I have been glad for the opportunity because I'm sure I would have left here thinking there was nothing to see.
While large parts of this city are made up of wide fast flowing chaotic roads populated by everything from new Mercedes to lowered and loud Japanese racers to clapped out Russian jalopies all in a daily wacky race, there is much more.
It's freedom square where a golden statue of St George celebrates Georgian independence and the older part of town with tree lined cobbled shady streets occupied with a plethora of small shops selling everything from wines and silver to local food products and tourist souvenirs. Cafes provide local food and a place to sit away from the days heat.
There is also a very modern out of town shopping centre that would not look out of place anywhere in affluent Europe with cars on display in the main foyer.
The recent flood appears to have closed a few roads which may to some extent explain my experience of the busy roads but a lot of clean up work is in progress.
Georgia has had a troubled past while only a few years ago Russia threatened invasion again. But modern Georgian people seem incredibly friendly and there is a sense of good times.
Out in the countryside I passed through there seems to be lots of people stood by the roadside. . I don't know how long they've been waiting for that bus, but some of them have grown old waiting.
My next destination may provide more of the culture shock as I move from Georgia's mostly European feel to a country with a well publicised corruption problem. But I hope like most places I have passed through that the fear of getting there is worse that the actual experience of being there.
We shall see
I'm the meantime I'm going to indulge my curiosity and spend the weekend enjoying Tbilisi old town still trying to not giggle when I say thank you in Georgian which is pronounced "mad lover" . . . little things!