Day 8 (For Dave): Batumi – Tbilisi, Georgia

I woke up feeling pretty good, Alan on the other hand, not so much, he had a pretty bad headache and was sick numerous times before we were able to leave the hotel this morning. Today was a sad day, I would be leaving the guys in Tbilisi as they continued on to Baku in Azerbaijan. The visa issue had not been resolved and so it was impossible for me to enter the country without waiting for my Azeri visa. I am gutted, this was not how the rally was supposed to be, I was looking forward to getting to Baku as for me, that is where the rally really begins, that’s where we were all supposed to meet Gilbey and thats where we were all supposed to get the ferry to Turkmenistan to see the Gates of Hell etc. This was now not going to happen and unfortunately, though I have been dreaming of visiting the Gates of Hell for quite a few years now, it would seem that this is not going to happen, not for now anyway.

I offered up my services as lead driver for the day knowing the Al and Don were planning on doing an overnighter so that they could be in Baku with time to meet Gilbey before going to the Turkmenistan embassy first thing tomorrow morning. It was a long, hot and very sweaty drive up and over the mountains avoiding crazy Georgian drivers and trying not to A) over heat the engine and B) not set the brakes on fire like we almost did in Germany! I soon adapted my style of driving to fit with the locals when I over took two trucks whilst driving around a blind bend based solely on the fact that I hadn’t seen anything coming in the distance when I did have a view, Don turned to me and said “Well Dave, you’re a Georgian driver now man!” yes, yes I am!

Arriving in Tbilisi some 8hrs later the guys dropped me off on Rustaveli, the main street in Tbilisi before I signed the roof rack wishing them luck and we had a little goodbye for now moment. I turned my back on them and walked off up the street, I didn’t look back, I couldn’t, I was gutted to be leaving them. I managed to find myself a room at Boombully hostel just up the road from where the guys left me, dropped my bags, and went straight out for a beer! Found a bar that sold beers for 65p and so had a few of those before returning to the hostel to scrub myself up a bit and go out for the night. I figured I’d make the most of my time here if I was going to be stranded here for a few days!

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