From Georgia, to Russia, Ukraine and Scandinavia in 4 weeks

Where you've been and what you done
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DanielS
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From Georgia, to Russia, Ukraine and Scandinavia in 4 weeks

Post by DanielS » Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:41 pm

Back in February I sent a very cheeky leave request form to my boss asking for almost all of August off in the hope I could do a bike trip. In our company anything more than two weeks needs director level approval. This worked fine since my boss is a director! To my astonishment he approved it as long as I met a few requirements and the plan started.

Paul and I have done a few trips together. Iceland, Mongolia/Russia/Kazakhstan etc, and last year we rode from Georgia home via Turkey. I've done them on my old F800GS or my X-Country and they're great bikes. However for this trip my girlfriend would be coming along for the first week or ten days'ish. The X-Country having no rear foot pegs ruled it out, and I had an itch to scratch with a 1200GS. Additionally this trip would be almost entirely tarmac, so why not get something that's easy and eats up the miles.

My budget was small and I found a 2006 1200GS with 50,000 miles on it. I bought it unseen from a chap on UKGSER and he even delivered it. It was in very good condition considering its age and mileage. A few weeks later some BMW panniers came up for sale too so I had those as well. Amazon Warehouse Deals and Unionbike.it came up trumps with a Givi topbox, backrest and mounting kit at a very good price. Then it was just a case of buying a nicer screen which ended up being a Givi Airflow and just before I started swapping over my Zumo 660 mount and Touratech Locking Mount from an old bike a second hand pair came up on here so I got that too and fitted it all.

I spent as much time as possible on the bike on the weekends just getting used to it. I'm quite short at 5 foot 6 (and a half!) and it's a big old bike, but I got used to it enough to be confident on the road. My girlfriend joined me on the back a lot too and she seemed to enjoy it, that was a weight off my mind as having a unhappy passenger would not be good.

This is the bike, it's a bit of a cheat photo as it was taken when I got back and had given it a good wash after this trip but I can't seem to find many photos of it at home or when it was delivered.

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Roll on June and the bike was collected from home by Kris (The same bike shipper we'd used for Georgia and Mongolia) and would be waiting in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital for me. I'd shipped everything with the bike. Two side panniers with a tent, camping stuff, tools, clothes etc. The topbox had both our helmets in it and I threw in a massive bag with our riding gear, gloves, boots etc.

I then had the painful wait until the end of July when I'd be able to jump on the plane.
My trip to Iceland

My trip to Ukraine

My trip to Truskavets

My trip to Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan etc

My trip from Georgia, Turkey and all the way home over 4 weeks

Where to next?

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PHILinFRANCE
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Re: From Georgia, to Russia, Ukraine and Scandinavia in 4 weeks

Post by PHILinFRANCE » Tue Aug 29, 2017 7:12 pm

Yep i'm in
I'M HERE FOR A GOOD TIME NOT A LONG TIME



http://dordogneholidayvillas.com/properties/chez-jax/




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crofty
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Re: From Georgia, to Russia, Ukraine and Scandinavia in 4 weeks

Post by crofty » Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:41 pm

Me too

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DanielS
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Re: From Georgia, to Russia, Ukraine and Scandinavia in 4 weeks

Post by DanielS » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:09 am

After a few flights and a night in Kiev we arrived in Tbilisi on a Saturday afternoon. Thankfully my girlfriend speaks fluent Russian and so we didn't get too ripped off by the taxi at the airport. I'm a bit naive sometimes and it's difficult when you don't' know what you should be paying. I just let her do the talking, I try to keep my trap shut so they don't realise I'm a Brit. It worked and we only paid slightly over the odds, which I can live with.

I'd booked the same hotel as Paul and I stayed in last year as it was just a short walk from the centre and it was in the old part of the city. It also had a very small bit of offroad parking for when I got the bike. Stick with what you know is my theory.

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It's not far from the Presidential Palace and it's right across the road from the Tbilisi Cathedral. It's a huge cathedral and people enjoy their time there, there's even a swimming pool for children. During our few days there we spotted some insane cars. New Rolls Royce's, Maybach's and similar which I assume were hire cars for some of the weddings. Seeing cars like that parked up next to old beat up 1980's cars though was still weird as the old beat up cars were the norm.

We had the Saturday and Sunday sightseeing as I could only get the bike from customs on Monday. We explored the cathedral, the city centre, had an open top bus tour and even found the McDonalds for some ice cream.

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One of the many, many churches!

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Last year at the hotel there were a few cats roaming around. Paul and I nicknamed them George and Georgina, hardly original. We found one of their relatives at the cathedral. There are lots of stray cats and many dogs. The good thing though with the dogs is that they almost all have a tag in their ear, this means they have been seen by a vet and neutered. Saved them having puppies and having to start putting them down I guess.

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On the Sunday night we caught the cablecar up to above the city. Tbilisi has mountains to three sides and you can get great views of the city. Apologies for the somewhat blurry photo. You can see the cathedral in the distance all lit up, that's where our hotel was. To the left of that and a little closer is the Presidential Palace. There is a nice mix of old and new buildings in the city.

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One of our many Georgian meals. I think my shashlik is missing from this photo.

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Almost every country in the world must have a Spar! I must have bought gallons of water from them, it was so hot!

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I can almost get by with the Russian Cyrillic text, but Georgian, not a hope in hell. Here's a screenshot from my Waze Satnav just for a laugh.

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Thankfully once again I'd loaded the OSM maps onto my Zumo 660 for the route the trip would take and they were mostly perfect. Free as well, the stuff the OSM Community come up with really is amazing.

Anyhow after a couple of days in the city, suffering in the blistering heat, we were looking forward to an 8am start on Monday when we'd be picked up by Kris' contact in Tbilisi and head off to get the bike out of customs. Always a frustrating and painful day.
My trip to Iceland

My trip to Ukraine

My trip to Truskavets

My trip to Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan etc

My trip from Georgia, Turkey and all the way home over 4 weeks

Where to next?

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SteveW
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Re: From Georgia, to Russia, Ukraine and Scandinavia in 4 weeks

Post by SteveW » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:17 am

Jolly good.
At last an interesting thread!

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Tonibe63
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Re: From Georgia, to Russia, Ukraine and Scandinavia in 4 weeks

Post by Tonibe63 » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:55 pm

Popcorn ready, I'm in :mrgreen:
Open your eyes and you see what is in front of you but open your mind and you see a whole new World

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royle100
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Re: From Georgia, to Russia, Ukraine and Scandinavia in 4 weeks

Post by royle100 » Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:19 pm

in
:D
"Oh, yeah, they're gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it's gonna scare 'em."....Easy Rider

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DanielS
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Re: From Georgia, to Russia, Ukraine and Scandinavia in 4 weeks

Post by DanielS » Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:05 pm

Thanks chaps. it's not the most exciting story, but I hope you enjoy some of the photos and adventures. Alan, I replied to your PM but it's sitting in my "Outbox" on here so not sure if that means you'll get it or not. Just let me know.

Monday morning arrived and the lovely Martyna (A Polish girl who has now moved to Georgia) met us at the hotel and off we trundled to the customs office. I don't actually have many photos of this but it was a boring/annoying/hot/frustrating/rewarding day full of the usual bureaucratic processes. We got there at 8am, were first in the queue and at about 2pm were almost free to get the bike after mountains of paperwork.

I was told that this piece of paper was the most important thing ever as it was my tax number to ensure the items I had temporarily imported, would be exported.

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and what felt like a ton of declarations ..

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So after a lot of this I was allowed to go and see the bike in the bonded area. Kris has these brackets/frames he bolts the bike into with the front wheel removed. All my panniers and bits were all wrapped up and I set to unwrapping them while another guy who was helping got around to taking the ratchet straps off.

The fun began when we tried to get the front wheel back on. There's no way of lifting the bike up enough to slide the axle out (That's in a bracket), life the bike up and get the wheel in. We tried a pallet trolley but it didn't work. Eventually our helper went and grabbed a man with a forklift who managed to get a fork under the bash plate and lifted the bike up enough for the helper to slide the front wheel in while I kept the bike steady and on the back brake to prevent the bike rolling back. It was a stressful few minutes I'll tell you that!

Anyhow, all done, the last thing to do was for Martyna to go off to another building and return the temporary number plate that I'd been issued and never even had to fit. Like I said, bureaucracy. At least the supermarket across the road had WiFi so strong we were able to surf the web and relax for most of the time. It was a lot of waiting around.

There was a supermarket across the road, it was about 4pm now and we were starving. So we rode the bike across the road, grabbed something to eat and waited for Martyna and Koba to come back with the all clear. It took them an hour or so but they came back and wallah, we were all legal and clear to leave. Happy days!

Here's a photo taken before we set off back to the hotel in the city about 20km away. My girlfriend doesn't really have a transparent head, I just don't think she'd appreciate her photos being on here is all :)

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We headed back to the hotel and made it in one piece. The bike was fine, the luggage was all fine and everything was in good condition. I gave the bike another check over, filled it up and looked forward to heading on our way on Tuesday. We were worn out and it was still about 35 degrees outside so had a brief stroll around, a meal, watched some traditional Georgian dancing, it's brilliant by the way, and then called it a night.
My trip to Iceland

My trip to Ukraine

My trip to Truskavets

My trip to Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan etc

My trip from Georgia, Turkey and all the way home over 4 weeks

Where to next?

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geoham
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Re: From Georgia, to Russia, Ukraine and Scandinavia in 4 weeks

Post by geoham » Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:32 pm

Keep it coming as I'm enjoying this :D

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DanielS
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Re: From Georgia, to Russia, Ukraine and Scandinavia in 4 weeks

Post by DanielS » Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:08 pm

Tuesday morning came around and because we had wheels we checked out of the hotel, loaded up the bike and headed north up to a place called Uplistsikhe about 2 hours away. It was scorching hot still but we were on a dual lane road most of the way so it was good with the wind blowing through our jackets. Towards the end we headed off the main track and down a few narrow roads, over a rickety old bridge and then you're there.

Once we arrived it was setup for tourists but not in a bad way. We were told it'd be safe to leave our jackets and helmets on the bikes with no fear at all, so we did just that. When we returned a few hours later everything was untouched :)

Uplistkhe is basically an old city/town/dwellings cut into the rocks and caves. Really interesting to see this stuff from as far back as the iron age. Pagan and Christian religions too.

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A lizard made an appearance

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After a much needed ice cold coke we headed back towards Tbilisi first, but when at a fork in the road instead of turning south, we turned north towards the Russian border. We came to Ananuri, an old castle complex on the lake. It's really pretty cool.

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The photos don't do it justice.

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We noticed some people on the waterfront, so after finding a path down there that we could get the bike down, we went and joined them. Unfortunately there was no place to change, but it was pleasant enough to get our boots off and cool the feet for a while.

Back on the bike we followed the dam/river for a while, it was a lovely colour.

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What a find it was too! It was deserted so I just abandoned the bike out the front as it wouldn't be in anyone's way.

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Not a bad view hey? This is the one from our hotel room:

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We had a fantastic dinner too, once again with the best view ever. The evening was nice and cool too, beats the 40 degrees of the day!

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During dinner the hotel filled up a bit, along with a coach full of pensioners from Israel, a really nice friendly bunch. However in the morning they were like locusts at the breakfast! The car parking also filled up and they were probably wondering who parked their bike like a dick ;)

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We called it a night after dinner, had our imodium, as an adventure isn't an adventure without it (My stomach and Georgian food don't mix!), and looked forward to getting into Russia in the morning.
My trip to Iceland

My trip to Ukraine

My trip to Truskavets

My trip to Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan etc

My trip from Georgia, Turkey and all the way home over 4 weeks

Where to next?

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