We pick up our car early the next day. Funnily enough, the messenger has already stalled the car in the hollow of a parking lot so that we can immediately test the functionality of the four-wheel drive! Jonas also strolls to our place on time with his trekking backpack, so that we can start our next adventure.
As his first route, Uli chose a road into a valley in Tushetia, a province in eastern Georgia that borders on Chechnya. The road was listed in the top 10 most dangerous roads in the world by the BBC a few years ago. Since we have excellent weather at the moment, we want to play it safe and take advantage of that. After that it obviously can’t get any worse.
We leave the crazy traffic of the capital and quickly come to the country roads that are lined by wide vineyards.
Allegedly the first wine was produced in this country – as excavations with finds with an age of more than 6000 years are said to show. Back then, the fermenting grape juice was buried in clay pots in the earth. Because of the praised taste, this traditional production is still used by some winegrowers in Georgia – but this also means that the usual price has been tripled.
We observe critically that the control lamp of the engine of our car appears as we wind our way through the foothills of the Caucasus and can sense it in all its power on the horizon. At a height at which, from a distance, a layman would assume clouds, airplanes, space stations, a contour emerged that, on closer inspection, turns out to be a mountain range.
As in the Caucasian part of Russia, we also see many bee trucks on the roadside and even more associated sellers – mostly seniors – who guarded small shops with stacks of glasses with and without honeycomb.
On his trip, Jonas tells us that after completing his bachelor’s degree, he set out for a few months with light luggage and without a camera to get to know the Stan countries by hitchhiking.
On the way he had taught himself Russian through the long time spent with the truck drivers.
We spot the ruins of a castle and head for it. There is not much left of the walls of the Ujarma fortress, but this does not prevent the Georgians from charging the proud three euros entrance fee.
There is not much left to see, but an old chapel, which – like every Christian building in Georgia – is dedicated to the holy dragon-slaying namesake of the country.
Numerous icons represent the knight and the rustic natural stone walls of the cave-like chamber are colored soot black by the candles, lamps or torches that have been used over the centuries.
From this exposed point, however, you have an incredible view of the surrounding mountains, forests and a small river that calls for my kayak. The leaves of the trees are mostly yellow and red, which makes the land look like autumn. In contrast, however, it is wonderfully warm.
While in Germany you can only briefly enjoy the golden October and have to beware of the treacherous cold after sunset, we can enjoy the phenomenon carefree – even the night stays warm.
We pass many Orthodox churches and monasteries, such as Ikalto and Dzveli, but all of them hardly differ from one another.
For women you can see a carrier for headscarves at the entrance of almost all churches or chapels. They must wear these when entering the sacred rooms.
We notice how blue the sky is here. Not just because it has no clouds. Above all, there are no planes. Our eyes are so used to streaks of condensation that we notice their absence immediately. A found argument for every chemtrail conspiracy theorist.
Agamas, which we only know from specialist terristic stores, scurry over stones.
In small shops we can find the wonderful cheese flatbreads that we already loved in Caucasian Russia. In Georgia these are called khachapuri and are available everywhere.