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Published: March 4th 2014
The famous mount Kazbegi
The famous mount Kazbegi
Monday morning was a good time to move on to my next destination. So it is good bye to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi and my satellite navigation was set for the Georgian border town of Kazbegi to the north. The estimated distance was 100 miles, so that would take the best part of a day to travel. I was happy to leave the hustle and bustle of the Georgian capital for the mountainous town of Kazbegi. The thought of peace and quiet and the lovely smell of an over-heated engine were just irresistible. Left the hotel at around 9 am and followed the directions to the road north. The plan was to drive Kazbegi by late afternoon, find a place to stay overnight and then head for the Georgian/Russian border the following morning.
Sure enough, the engine overheated 2 or 3 times along the way because of the steep mountainous roads, so I had to stop each time to rest and let the engine cool down a little. I met an Englishman on one of the lay by and he saw the British plates on my car, so he got talking to me. Then a young Russian couple in
a little Fiat asked me for some brake fluid. I thought they must be crazy, driving around in these steep mountainous roads with very low brake fluid level in their car. Since I don't want them to have an accident, I obligingly handed over a bottle of my brake fluid to the driver. I had to remind myself to buy a replacement bottle of brake fluid at the next petrol station. The thought of brake failure in my car just horrifies me.
The roads just got higher and higher and reached nearly 1700 metres high. The poor G wagen really struggled, but by 3.30 pm local time I had arrived at Kazbegi or Stepantsminda
. The priority was to stretch my legs, find somewhere to stay for the night and find somewhere to eat. Kazbegi is a small mountain town on the 'Georgian Military Highway'. It is located 10 Km south of the Russian border. The town offers spectacular view of the mighty mount Kazbegi as shown in some of my photographs.
There were 2 or 3 hotels in Kazbegi but they were all full. The locals were very enterprising, offering very expensive accommodation "in
their home". I tried to turn them down but they were very persistent. Of course, the harder they tried, the harder I resisted. So I drove off to look for overnight accommodation myself. The funny thing was, they followed me while a drove around town looking for a place to stay. When I stopped after the fruitless task of looking for a hotel, the local touts got out of their car and approached me with a smile and had an expression on their face that said "I told you so, you stupid tourist".
I was in a fighting mood. I have not traveled thousands of miles to be so easily beaten by the local touts. I thought of just parking the car on the main road and sleep in the vehicle, but then I was worried that these touts may ask the local police to give me trouble. The sun was setting and my tummy was rumbling. What shall I do?
While I was driving around town looking for a place to stay, I made a mental note of all the places I could eat and there were a few because Kazbegi was popular with the tourists. My
Sunset in Kazbegi
Sunset in Kazbegi
plan was to eat in one of the cafe or restaurant with a place to park my vehicle overnight. So I ordered my dinner and having enjoyed a delicious Georgian meal, then I asked the lady owner (in sign language) if I can park my car in her drive overnight for x amount of Lari. The lady was very helpful and accepted my offer to rent her drive for the night. I paid a tiny fraction of what the touts were asking to the owner. It rained that night and it was cold because of the altitude, but I had a comfortable night.
The next morning, I had a quick wash before heading to another cafe for my breakfast (the cafe I visited the night before was closed). During breakfast, I worked out that it would take 1 or 2 hours to reach the border crossing and possibly 4 or 5 hours to cross over the border to Russia. So, it looks like I need to find accommodation near the Russian border.
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