We are nine weeks into this thing – it’s wild. By no means is this trip getting any easier. Last we spoke, Joel and I were just passing through the mountainous regions of Northern Romania. I just so happen to be reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula during this time, which coincidentally takes place in Transylvania. It added a bit of flare to an already interesting book.
Moldova was not originally on our route. We were forced to change our approach to the Black Sea. We found that there was no ship leaving the port in Constanta, Romania on the dates we needed. Our next best option was to head to Odessa, Ukraine where we were able to reserve a room aboard a cargo ship leaving on August 1st. We spent 4 days in Odessa at a home stay/hostel. We got to see the city for a few days, spend lots of time swimming in the Black Sea and even managed to get some bike repairs done.
Before boarding the ship on the Black Sea, we both assumed we would be sailing with a bunch of drunk truckers in a grungy old rigger for 2 days. To our surprise, there was a bunch of families and a few fellow travellers roughly our age. Before leaving the port, we had already made friends with most of young people. The trip acros was so much fun. I spent my birthday hanging out, eating, playing cards, watching dolphins and seeing the sun set over the Black Sea. Not a bad birthday.
Our plan in Georgia was to stay in the port city of Batumi for a few nights, get our visas sorted out for Azerbaijan and take in a few sights while we waited for the processing. Turns out the consulate was closed and we needed to head to Tbilisi, where the embassy was. We spent the day exploring and swimming anyways. The morning after we decided to hit the road. We had enjoyed our 6 day break from biking, but it was time to get back to reality.
The road to Tbilisi was really nice. The first portion was along the sea. Once we hit he highway, it was smooth sailing to the capital. We hit a couple days of bad head wind, but the camping spots in the mountains made up for the tough rides. Similar to Romania, the mountains in Georgia are incredible. We tend to love anywhere that reminds us of home. Especially on tough riding days, those little reminders mean so much and often help us push forward even when we don’t feel like we can.
Tbilisi was a lot more fun than we had anticipated. Initially, Joel and I were both mad at each other for some dumb reason coming in and in the midst of that argument we got separated in the heart of a huge city. It took us at least 2 hours to find eacother at the hostel we had booked. Not a good way to start a rest day. Needless to say, maybe it was a good for us to be alone for a few hours, seeing as though we spend basically every waking moment together.
For the 4 days we were there, we met up with an old friend from the ferry, made some new friends from both our hostel and other friends hostels. Together we day tripped to an old cave monastery and spent another few days together as Joel and I waited for our visas to process. For the first time on our trip, we felt no need to make it anywhere on time. We were free to actually hangout and enjoy ourselves. Which is hard when all we are mostly used to is eat, bike, sleep and repeat.
Our visas were approved on the Friday night, so Saturday we packed our bikes and headed to Sheki, Azerbaijan. The Azeri border was the first border crossing that actually took the time to search us. Most places seem confused, they look at us, smell us and decide we aren’t worth the time. After 45 minutes and an attempt at stealing my watch, we were on our way. Cruising through the mountains of Azerbaijan was so cool. They are almost too steep to live on or farm, so everyone basically lives along the base of the mountains. Luckily for us, that meant flat riding!
Sheki was the only big city we stopped in Azerbaijan before the Caspian Sea. We made some more friends, ate tons of donairs, napped and rode horses! It was a nice break. After that, we headed on the last leg of our journey through the Caucuses. It was easily the hottest we have riden though all trip. Miles and miles of desert wasteland in 40+ degree heat. Even at night it stayed around 28 degrees. But before long we reached the final city, Baku!
We’ve been here for a few days staying with some friends who have been kind enough to let us crash at their flat and show us the city life. We got word a few hours ago that our ferry to Kazakhstan leaves tomorrow morning! Now more than ever we are going to need your prayers! 30 days of heat and desert ahead.
We are so thankful for all of your messages, donations , website shares and words of encouragement. We would not be here if it weren’t for you guys! We are also so thankful to be part of the Lighthouse Voyage family and their mission to see the sex trade abolished worldwide. It is something we both believe strongly in – the equality of all people. We hope you continue to follow our journey and get onboard with what Lighthouse Voyage is a part of. We miss you all back home and are praying for you all as well. Check out our recent blog to get an inside view on some of the highlights!
All our love,
Brad and Joel