Day 454-456 – 28.-30. July 2014

Day 454: I left Goris through a beautiful valley. The weather was good and after two days of rest I was eager to go on.

IMG_5700 IMG_5706

I descended 600m and then faced a 900m climb. It was the most windy road I ever cycled. It was hard work and it took me four hours to get to the top.

IMG_5712 IMG_5724 IMG_5733

After a 200 drop and another short climb I descended to the town of Kapan. I was now basically at the same elevation as I started in the morning.

I tried to find a place for my camp close to the river but could not find a good spot. I still had some sunlight so I decided to go on for a few km. Unfortunately that meant another 200m climb till I found a place close to the empty road.

IMG_5767

This day I climbed 1600m in only 67km and I still felt good. 🙂

Day 455: The climbing continued. Frist 400 up then 300 down and again 300 up. Again more than 1200m climb in 35 km.

But the day was beautiful as the one before.

IMG_5774

I met a german cyclist named Stefan who did some 2 and 3 year long tours before and is now on a one year trip. We talked for almost one hour and he gave me some helpful tips.

IMG_5783

Later that afternoon I stopped at a water well and a family invite me to their barbecue. They offered me a self made drink and after I managed to go on I was, lets say well oiled. I was lucky the road was practicaly deserted, because I used the whole street. After 30 minutes it was getting better.

IMG_5789 IMG_5791 IMG_5793

When I came through a village I found a small shop, bought some drinks and continued.

I followed the valley for another few km and found a rest area at the river. It was getting dark and after I set up the camp, took a refreshing bath in the river and made dinner it was almost time for bed.

IMG_5814

Day 456: The last day in Armenia started by continuing climbing to the last  mountain pass. I think I only saw three or four cars the whole day on the road.

IMG_5824 IMG_5848

The pass was at 2200m and the following decent was 27 km long and ended at 400m elevation. On the way down I could feel the temperature rising rapidly.

IMG_5859 IMG_5864

Half way down I had a flat tire on the trailer but after 15 minutes everything was repaired.

IMG_5876

The river is the border between Armenia and Iran. The Armenian border is controlled by Russian soldiers. The river banks are fenced in and every few meters is a watchtower with a Russian and Armenian flag.

IMG_5877IMG_5881

I followed the river to the border crossing. The plan was to cross the border the next day, because of the limited time of the Iranian visa.

I was looking for a place to stay but all the gardens and plantations where fenced in and locked. When I found a open gate I waited for a while to asked an older man if I could stay in his garden.

IMG_5886

IMG_5884 IMG_5883

He accepted and after I set up my camp he came with some grapes, water and vodka.

Armenia is a very beautiful country. The people are very nice and helpful and I was happy to make the detour through Georgia and Armenia.

The only thing was the terrain. 11.400 m climb in 650km and most climbs where very steep and difficult.

Aremia hight

Day 454: 67,46 km  all: 13.804 km

Day 455: 34,45 km  all: 13.839 km

Day 456: 63,45 km  all: 13.902 km

Day 449-453 – 23.-27. July 2014

Day 449: After two days at the lake I continued my journey through Armenia.

I had to climb 400m and had a nice view over a beautiful valley.

IMG_5494

The decent was more than 30km and 1300m and I really enjoyed the ride. I continued along a major street and looked for a place to camp.

After I crossed a river I found a very nice, secluded place close to the river. It was still early and I spend the afternoon reading and relaxing.

IMG_5513 IMG_5519

Day 450: The next morning I took my time making scrambled eggs for breakfast when a fisherman came by and gave me some fish. I did not know what to do with them, so I threw them back into the river.

IMG_5523 IMG_5521

Because I planed to cycle only 50km that day, I took my time and when I started it was already noon.

I did not go back to cross the river, because I used a old wooden bridge.

IMG_5544IMG_5540

The day was hot, but the road was good and for the first 20km fairly flat.

I was very surprised when I saw this big hill before me. The climb was difficult but the worst part was the strong headwind. The combination made it extremly difficult and I was very exhausted when I reached 2300m. It was already 8pm and the sun was just setting.

IMG_5580 IMG_5588

I quickly decented to the next gas station and some people took a few pictures and asked me some questions.

DSCN0061

They sugessted to stay at the gas station for the night and asked someone if that was ok.

The guy from the station showed me a place just beside the building where I could set up my camp. Later I went inside and had a sandwich and could recharge my batteries and computer.

IMG_5592

The elevation was still over 2100m so the night was fairly cold.

Day 451: In the morning the wind was gone so I hurried to get on the bike. The area was beautiful and peaceful.

IMG_5604 IMG_5613

After some km I enjoyed a nice decent to 1800m but then I had to climb again to 2400m. Without the wind it was much easier.

On the way I met Jiri from Czech Republic. He tramped from Antalya to Armenia and now was going to Goris. I had the same way, so we made arrangements to meet in the evening.

IMG_5679

After I finaly reached the top of the pass, I had a cruse down 1000m to the town of Goris.

IMG_5647

I quickly found a nice hotel. After a shower and some rest I went to Jiri´s hotel and we had a nice lunch in his hotel. Afterwards we took a walk around the town and had a beer.

Day 452: Jiri send me a message asking if I would like to visit a old cave village nearby.

IMG_5655 IMG_5661

We met and took a taxi to the village. After walking and climbing at the historical village, we tried to tramp back to Goris. It was very easy, because almost instantly someone stopped and took us to the next intersection. After three different cars we were back in the town.

IMG_5690

Jiri and I ate dinner and went to a cafe. We met a british guy who travels around and collects plants to grow in England. He suggested a different route to go to Iran, because there was no traffic and the road was very good.

IMG_5691

Day 449: 70,77 km  all: 13.627 km

Day 450: 44,59 km  all: 13.672 km

Day 451: 64.,93 km  all: 13.737 km

Day 445-448 – 19.-22. July 2014

Day 445: The first 20 km this morning was a nice descent. The rest of the day was again a very long climb.

The area was still beautiful and because I did not choose the main road it was pretty lonely.

IMG_5309

At noon, on a steep part a man invited me to his hut. He served me Lavash (a local flat bread) an self made honey. Also some water and vodka.

IMG_5319

It is amazing how much you can get to know about someone even if you do not speak his language. George lives in the summer in this secluded area and makes honey. He produces 1000kg in on year.

After I climbed more than 1000m it was getting late and I saved the last 200m climb for the next day. I found a place at a creek, behind some trees for my camp. Only one shepherd came by with his cows.

IMG_5334

Day 446: I managed to be on the road again shortly after 10am. The 200m climb was followed by a rapid decent to the sevan lake. The lake is the largest in Armenia and is at an altitude of 1900m.

IMG_5346 IMG_5358

I followed the lake at the east side. The wind was getting stronger and sometimes I really had to struggle. At one point the road was suddenly gone and for the next 15 km its was so bad that I only could go a maximum speed of 10-12km/h.

IMG_5375 IMG_5378

After another 20km I finally had the wind from the rear. Now it was a nice fast ride along the south side.

I needed to get some supplies and asked someone in a small village about a market. As you can imagine I was the sensation when I was at the shop.

I only wanted to find a place close to the lake to spend two nights. But I could not find one. I pressed on and till I saw a small road going to the lake. It was already getting dark and it was my last try to find a place. Just when I was turning into the small road, a man with a car stopped behind me and said there is no place to camp.

IMG_5401 IMG_5403

He told me to follow him and after 500m we stopped at the next filling station. He got out, talked to another man  and suddenly I had a small room where I could sleep. Later he came back with is daughter, because she could speak english and so we could have a conversation.

All the people at the station where friendly and I felt very safe.

Day 447: I left the station in the morning and cycled 10km to the next town. I went to several shops to get some more supplies and then I was searching for a good place. After a few small detours I found a very nice place in a wooded area close to the beach.

IMG_5409

The only thing I did not like were some big roots from cut down trees, because they spoiled the sight.

After a few minutes some workers came with a truck and picked up the roots. How considerate of them.

IMG_5449

It was almost noon and the workers made a brake and invited me to their picnic.

IMG_5422

They also invited a local shepherd and later I was able to take his horse for a small ride.

IMG_5428

The food was basically sausage, cheese and bread. Yes, and also vodka.

After we emptied two bottles of vodka I was pretty drunk. I do not know how I managed to pitch up my tent, but I somehow did and slept for a few hours.

When I woke up some other guys invited me. This time they had some self made „whatever” to drink.

IMG_5447

I was glad when everybody was gone and I could go to bed early.

Day 448: I needed a day rest so I stayed at the lake and relaxed a little bit. The weather was not that great but for me it was ok.

IMG_5442 IMG_5452

Some of the workers came back, but this time I refused to drink any vodka. In the afternoon they brought a fresh watermelon and it was so big that we could only eat half of it.

 

Day 445: 55,12 km  all: 13.434 km

Day 446: 103,49 km  all: 13.538 km

Day 447: 18,90 km  all: 13.557 km

Day 441-444 – 15.-18. July 2014

 

Day 441: After three weeks in Tbilisi I was happy to be on the road again. I said good bye to my roommates and started by cycling through the city.

IMG_5182 IMG_5183

After a 200m climb I had a pleasant ride to the border of Armenia. Just 15km short of the border I stopped for the night. I even had filled my 10 liter shower-bag at the last filling station with hot water, so I had a pleasant shower.

IMG_5186 IMG_5195

Day 442: The few km to the border was downhill and just before noon I reached the border to Armenia. The crossing was very easy and fast with no baggage control. The border officers wished me a nice stay and congratulated Germany for winning the world cup.

IMG_5205 IMG_5209

I just entered Armenia and was starting my first climb. The countryside is very beautiful and mountainous. The rest of the day I was slowly climbing in a nice valley following a river.

IMG_5223 IMG_5239

After 50km I was looking for a place to camp along the river. It was impossible to find a suitable spot, because either the road was high above the river or there was no flat area close to it. After 70km I finally crossed the river at a old bridge and found a place. It was not close to the river but there was a small creek so I had water for washing and cooking.

Just before I retired for the day I met a couple from Switzerland on a bike tour around Armenia and Georgia.

IMG_5240

Day 443: After a good night I took my time and started at noon.

The climbing continued. Two jung dogs followed me for a while and after I gave them something to eat they did not want to leave.

IMG_5259

I met another German cyclist who is going from Yerevan to Istanbul. Richard has only two bags. Due to his limited time he is not camping and so he can cover great distances in one day.

IMG_5262

Finally I reached the top of the mountain and was descending into the town of Vanadzor. After I bought some groceries and liquids, I was ready to find a place to camp.

Just before exiting the town, I met two cyclist from the Netherlands. They told me about another Italian cyclist, who has a 30€ bicycle. A few minutes later he came to us. And what a surprise, I knew him from Cyprus. We met in January in North Cyprus (Day 268).

IMG_5269 IMG_5268

He was already late for a meeting, and left after two minutes.

While we where exchanging contact information, two other cyclist from Germany joined us.

IMG_5271

Because it was getting late we decided to find a place to camp together. After another 150m climb we found a very nice place on top off a hill. We shared a tasty dinner and some beer and had a lot to talk about.

We all where very tired and after more than 1000m climb in only 41km I felled asleep right away.

IMG_5275

Day 444: The next morning we had a extensive breakfast. We said good bye and we hope to see us again somewhere in the future.

IMG_5278

I wanted to go only 30 km to the next town, so I took my time packing my things. At moon I started to go on and climbed 200m.

I met two other cyclist from Poland and Luxembourg. The Polish guy its almost two years traveling all over Europe.

IMG_5284

In the town of Dilijan I bought some supplies and continued. A few km outside the town I found a wonderful palace close to a river for the night. It was still early, so I could relax, read and take a both in the river.

IMG_5299 IMG_5296IMG_5302

 

Day 441: 60,16 km  all: 13.233 km

Day 442: 71,05 km  all: 13.304 km

Day 443: 41,46 km  all: 13.345 km

Day 444: 33,97 km  all: 13.379 km