Continuation of 09. Iran
Welcome to Azerbaijan -----BORDER EXPERIENCE----(Iran departure see block Iran)
12.04.19 127.874 km Day 263 Today border crossing to Azerbaijan from Iran
(Part 1 of the day in Iran bloc)
We were the only ones, except trucks. We drove very slowly into the border area. Now there were only a few trucks left here, but they stood, didn't move. We were waved more and more by passing soldiers. At some point we realized that the cars were being checked off at the back on the right side. Now it really started. We got out and went to the far right into a building, where a very good-looking young officer in uniform and another young officer, both very spic, sat and let us wait for 10 minutes. She played around with her cell phone and he ate. We stood there now a little haphazard. Then another officer, who looked like a soldier, asked for the passports and the eVisa. Hammered our data into the computer, we had to stand in front of a camera, were photographed and then he took the ID again in his hand and looks us in the eyes for a minute, compare the ID with our face, it really took one minute per person. What started with an extremely strict look ended with a grin on both faces. But it was really funny.
Now we already had an entry stamp in our passport and now the young lady started to take the car. Here the Carnet was very helpful, because she did not get along with our vehicle registration at all. After another 20 minutes, which lasted this, we got a receipt, and now had to go to the bank. About 100m back where the trucks were. Since she only showed us the direction, Thomas always held the voucher upwards and we were always led further by the officials passing by. An inconspicuous door and we were in the bank, in which there is also the car insurance, if one needs it then. With us Azerbaijan is also insured over the green insurance card, and thus we were allowed to pay to the cash and 21$ (in US dollars paid) for the import of the car (perhaps that was also the road tax, we can not assign it at present yet).
Now we went back to the young officer, who thawed a bit in the meantime, Germans are welcome here. Thomas noticed that a few cars from Europe and Russia had been here for some time, including one from France. Which had a blue French European sign, but the number itself had nothing to do with France. As we got out afterwards, these were stolen vehicles, which had been secured here. Back in the building, we returned the receipt and were supposed to wait in the car. Then we should make acquaintance with the young, snooty gentleman. We were to drive into the hall for inspection. Thomas signaled to the officer that we had a dog in the car and pointed to the drug-sniffing dog, whereupon the drug-sniffing dog was led away and I could get out of the car with Jerry and into a meadow. Thomas opened all doors and stood in front of the car. Now it started. Two more officers joined us and we started to inspect the car very carefully. This inspection was interrupted again and again by the fact that one found things, which inspired them very much, like e.g. my small USB reading lamp, the compressor for inflating the tires or the mosquito net, which closes automatically by magnets. The loose objects, such as the bags in which the food was stored, were placed on a band to be illuminated. All the cupboards that we have have been opened and thoroughly examined. Then came the drug sniffer dog. But he obviously had a hard time, because we have a dog in the car. This procedure took about 1.5 hours. In the meantime the veterinarian was called. He looked very closely at Jerry's international vaccination pass, checked all vaccinations for completeness and how up-to-date they are, very thoroughly, so that I already thought I overlooked something and we have a problem.
He didn't check the chip and he didn't even look at the dog itself. Then he apparently explained to the two young officers exactly what he was doing, what to pay attention to, the words "problem" and "virus" came up several times, at some point he turned to me and said "ok, you ca go". Puuuhhhhh. Nobody was interested in the dog from this point on. The car was also intensively examined from below. Say and write altogether more than 4h for both border crossings. It is also worth mentioning that all medicines, every package were checked exactly, but we had certificates and explanations, in German and English, which nobody can read here. Also the medicines were x-rayed and the packages were opened. Since we have a lot with us for the long time of the trip and for all eventualities, it took quite a long time.
Then came a friendly "Welcome to Azerbaijan" and we were through. We thought. At the barrier again soldiers who wanted to see the receipt that we really paid. Then the barrier opened. We were through. HURRA, we are in Azerbaijan, which was originally not our plan, but it has now turned out so on the way. Thomas had already googled the supermarket and picked out the coordinates, why? The first bottle of wine and Bacardi after 2 weeks....pay with credit card not possible, so first ATM, but it worked without problems.
The bottles were not cheap, 200ml Jack Daniels (nobody knows Bacardi) and a bottle of wine, 13€.
Next order was the SIM card, so that we can talk to the people about Google translators again. With hands and feet and several times stopping, sending on, we found then a mobile phone shop of Azercell and within 5min everything was finished, 10GB for 6€. Now we finally had time to notice the incredible change. On the one hand there are relatively new Mercedes and other brands, but also a lot of very old Ladas. The cars are no longer just white as in Iran. So far the road conditions were very good and here there are again rules in the road traffic. The chaotic, everyone does what he wants is no longer the order of the day here. Since this whole procedure cost basically the whole day, we decided today not to go to Baku (300 km), but looked for an overnight place in the proximity, IOverlander suggested us a national park 30 km away. It turned out to be the highlight. For 4 Manat/ 2 Euro we had one of the most beautiful places at all, stood alone at a small brook, no further dogs in the proximity. We sat down relaxed in front of the car. The family, which manages this place, stayed away. When they wanted to say goodbye, because they only run the place during the day with a small cafe, which was really very clean and maintained, Thomas asked the park keeper, in Russian, whether we may make a fire here. This was affirmed and he showed us the firewood, and we gave him 10 manats. The money quickly disappeared into his pocket. And now they started to bring us the wood to the car and light the fire for us. They left us alone, the rest of the evening we had for ourselves, there are pleasant temperatures, campfires in front of the car, on a rich green meadow in a small forest area. Jerry obviously liked it here as well. We sat very long before the fire, our first campfire to Mexico. And we enjoyed our drinks after 14 days. Nobody disturbed any more and we could sleep really deep and long.
What we also notice now, the Internet is open again, there are no restrictions and we can access everything again. It is also more pleasant again because I can go back to my original clothes, but I have also learned a lot from it.
secretly photographed, the border crossing to Azerbaijan (photography forbidden)
that was expected in Iran, but not seen, but here in Azerbaijan you can see oil pumps (like in Texas) in rough quantities.
first evening in Azerbaijan in front of the National Park Cay Evi. our very first campfire since we are back on tour. We sat for a long, long time and enjoyed the loneliness (I got the freedom back today to dress the way I want to) and thought a lot about our experiences in Iran.
Thanks to the IOverlander we found 30 km after crossing the border a sooo beautiful, quiet place to stay overnight. After the exhausting crossing of the border we deserved it too
one of my most beautiful photos, therefore again
the family, who managed this place, but also drove home in the evening, helped us make the fire (which wouldn't be necessary, but it was a friendly gesture).
13.04.19 128.029 km Day 264 Off to BAKU
After a really nice evening at the campfire, we headed for Baku today. Suddenly the landscape changed, it became flat. Right and left was sandy desert. The road was totally new and we drove relatively lonely about 280 km towards Baku. The road was really good, contrary to all information and expectations, but the landscape was very monotonous. The people were curious, but reserved. If you signalled, they came, but if you let them, they stay away. They seemed very polite, but also somewhat reserved. Until Baku, as I said, everything a bit monotonous, but not poor, as we had expected. When we drove into Baku, we had the feeling that we were entering another world, everything modern, everything new, everything to a better standard than we knew from home. It looks like a Western European metropolis, one forgets very quickly where one actually is. The corrupt policemen have also been absent so far. During our whole stay in Azerbaijan there were only nice and helpful policemen, not as described in the Internet that the police stops you and accuses you of misconduct to get to Bakschisch, but exactly the opposite, helpful, courteous, but also everywhere present. We had googled out a parking lot directly at the sea, where we paid 4€ for 2 nights, very centrally located and relatively quiet. Towards evening we enjoyed the impressive lightshow of the Flame Towers and were really thrilled that we included Azerbaijan in our trip. The necessary EVisum was approved online within 3 hours. And except the border crossing to Azerbaijan, which was very exhausting, everything was ok, only the country itself is very flat and monotonous.
Yeah, we're really in Baku, it wasn't our plan.
our pitch for the next two days, supervised, directly overlooking the sea for 2,50€ per night.
The Flame Towers seen in picture 2 make a beautiful lightshow at night.
out of the car: Impressions of Baku
the lightshow of the Flame Towers of Baku, absolutely fascinating. We sat over an hour in front of the car and watched the show. Wouldn't that also be something for Frankfurt with all the skyscrapers?
14.04.19 128.280 km Day 265 still BAKU
as we wrote yesterday, if you come in to Baku, you will be killed, compared to Dubai or Monaco, a pure showcase city, here are the newest cars, everything is new and modern. And also the people are decorated and in the most expensive clothes. Today we set out to experience the city a bit. But that wasn't easy, because in 5 days there will be a Formula 1 Grand Prix here. Many areas were already closed off and inaccessible. But Baku is inviting for us and also inspires us and we feel really comfortable. And we don't stand out, nobody is interested in us here. Towards evening strong fog came up, we were really lucky to be able to enjoy this lightshow of the Flame Towers last night, because the three towers had been swallowed up in the fog for hours.
Beside the sightseeings, we use the time to relax. Baku is worth a trip.
Picture 1: Everywhere the Azerbaijani flag is represented, very national conscious.
Picture 2: Music hall, very futuristic
Picture 3: out of the car, Baku
Picture 4: Little Venice. Yes, you can find that here, too, they build everything like in Dubai.
Picture 5: Most of the houses here have such magnificent facades.
Picture 6: the 3 Flame Towers in the background
Figure 1-3: Shore promenade in Baku
Picture 4: there is a barrier for Formula 1, actually we wanted to go to the old town, but now we would have had to walk for miles along a fence. Unfortunately unlucky
Picture 5: a new shopping centre, reminiscent of Sidney in a way
Picture 6: Ferris wheel, as in London, at night, this is not located at the Thames, but at the Caspian Sea.
15.04.19 128.280 km Day 266 On the way inland or The day that began badly and then found total happy ending
Today we left Baku, it was beautiful here. We just got out because they had already started to lock us down for the Formula 1 circus that will start in 5 days. And now it became unpleasant. After just a few kilometres Thomas looked in the rear-view mirror. And you couldn't see the road behind us with smoke. From our exhaust it smoked so much that one really could not see the 2-lane road any more. Horror rose in us. Panic. First thought: engine failure. We immediately ran to the right. And when we stood, a car already stopped beside us and the man said that we should follow him, he takes us to the workshop. Now it gets strange. The car didn't smoke anymore. Also there was no error message and everything felt normal while driving. Arriving at the workshop, we didn't know what to do at first, because everything was normal again. We saved the coordinates of the workshop and wanted to drive a bit more to see what would happen next. After another 5 min driving at 110 kmh, so whenever it got hot, he smoked again, not so extreme anymore, but already strong. We ran to the right again and googled the situation. We checked the oil pressure, we checked the coolant and the pressure, we checked the oil level, everything was normal, still no error message on the car itself. So we decided to drive a few more kilometres. The problem didn't occur anymore. At the same time we also had contact with our local workshop and the analysis showed that the engine probably has nothing, but that the catalytic converter could have gone into regeneration mode and the catalytic converter is now burnt free. Since we got 5000 km of high-sulphur diesel in Iran, we explained this to ourselves. But the thing is different, because we already filled up half a tank after the border in order to dilute the Iranian gasoline and the sulfur a little and assume at present that we got in Azerbaijan worse, with water mixed diesel at a brand filling station. When we let our car run idle for 5 minutes the next morning, a green, watery liquid dripped out of the exhaust. The strong smoke did not occur any more and after 5 min in idle the dripping of the liquid stopped. But we are still very vigilant in this respect and stay near the Turkish and Russian border, distance approx. 200 km, because if the problem gets bigger, we have insurance cover from Turkey and Russia that the car can be brought home from there.
The rest of the morning was therefore a bit tense, but there was no more smoke, the engine was running normally and there was no error message.
Back to Azerbaijan. After we left Baku, we drove, by the way, on a very good road without potholes further and further into the interior, but it was flat and little inviting, boring, always straight ahead, right and left you could see as far as the eye can see, but all used agriculturally. But what you really have to stress is that there is no garbage at the roadsides, no matter where you are and you always see people walking along the roadside collecting the garbage, here everything is really clean. Also we thought now that everything is getting poorer again after we left Baku, that was not the case, all houses looked relatively new, clean and well maintained. According to previous research this was supposed to be one of the poorest countries and when we looked at Google we noticed that Azerbaijan has been experiencing a boom for the last 5 years due to the oil deposits and everything has been extremely modernized here. The poor, Russian, what we expected, can still be seen from time to time in the form of buses and the one or other Lada, which still drives around here, but mostly it is here already like with us. Our idea to find a nice place to stay overnight in the middle of the country was so bad that we suddenly, because somehow there was nothing inviting on the right and left, without having wanted it, stood about 18h before the border Azerbaijan-Georgia.
We still have a funny story when it was said that we go to Azerbaijan, it was said that these are the worst roads at all, pothole tracks. The 900 km long road we drove in Azerbaijan (also off the main roads) had exactly one single pothole, and that's exactly what we took with us, but luckily nothing happened.
We don't really want to cross borders in the evening, because the procedure can often take hours and we don't want to drive in a new country in the dark anymore. And so Thomas said, we'll just see what the border looks like and then we'll drive over it tomorrow morning. All of a sudden we stood so that we couldn't go back to the back and there was no possibility to turn in front. Now we had to pass the border unintentionally today. Now the positive part of the day begins. The actual border crossing from Azerbaijan to Georgia took 30 minutes when it came up. Everything was super friendly, be it on one side or the other. The car was only superficially inspected from both sides (and rather due to curiosity, because one hardly knows such cars here). Georgia was especially fast, we were in it in 10 minutes. Since the green insurance card is not enough for Georgia and you have to take out a car liability insurance, which is possible at any bank, Thomas asked the very nice, English speaking Georgian customs officer where he would take it out. He referred us to a small wooden container about 1km after the border. Said, done, 5 min later we had our insurance for 15 days, 30 Lari (10€). And now immediately in the connection the question where one gets here a Georgian Simkarte. Then the policeman standing at the door took me by the hand and led me a whole 10m further, there in the shop there were food, drinks and also SIM cards. The card itself cost 10 Lari (3€), after that we had to go to an ATM, where I could load the card. Everything very easy and fast, if that were so at all borders, it would be a dream.
Since we needed something until the Internet really worked (because the first mobile phone we used was too old for the system, when I put the card into our newer mobile phone, it worked immediately). Thomas had spotted a huge and empty truck parking lot in the meantime and as it slowly began to dawn, we decided to stay here. Also here we were again overwhelmed with friendliness and helpfulness, be it to make the mobile phone run, they offered us the showers, the toilets, we should park here for free. We parked at the back so Jerry could lie in front of the car in peace. Later we decided to eat in the restaurant at the shops, we got a delicious salad with sheep's cheese, grilled lamb and a woodruff shower, although not ordered (but really tasty). For the equivalent of 7€. Afterwards we sat really happy and full in front of the car and were happy that everything worked out like clockwork, Yay, we are in Georgia and we feel it already. We have only heard positive things about Georgia about landscape and people and are really curious.
Note: if we cross Georgia to the north, up to the Russian border (the only border crossing to Russia) it is 230 km, if we cross from here, we arrive after 400 km at the Black Sea, Georgia is not bigger. Then let's see what the next day will bring.
Picture 1. taken from the car, a small village
Picture 2: this is how the houses look here, you can see from the roofs how new everything is here.
impressions of side streets shot from the car, enlarge image and let it affect you
Picture 1: here you can see another drive of Ladas, but the majority already drive modern cars, many Mercedez and SUVs are the norm here.
Photo 2: What you still see are these ancient buses that remind you of the Soviet Union. But that is also almost the only relic
Ups only 30 km to Georgia...well, then eyes closed and through and suddenly unplanned simply still today over the border
Border crossing Azerbaijan to Georgia.
Welcome to Georgia
We don't really want to cross borders in the evening, because the procedure can often take hours and we don't want to drive in a new country in the dark anymore. And so Thomas said, we'll just see what the border looks like and then we'll drive over it tomorrow morning. All of a sudden we stood so that we couldn't go back to the back and there was no possibility to turn in front. Now we had to pass the border unintentionally today. Now the positive part of the day begins. The actual border crossing from Azerbaijan to Georgia took 30 minutes when it came up. Everything was super friendly, be it on one side or the other. The car was only superficially inspected from both sides (and rather due to curiosity, because one hardly knows such cars here). Georgia was especially fast, we were in it in 10 minutes.
41.329745, 45.069795 Red Bridge" Customs Border
Since the green insurance card is not enough for Georgia and you have to take out a car liability insurance, which is possible at any bank, Thomas asked the very nice, English-speaking Georgian customs officer where he would take it out. He referred us to a small wooden container about 1km after the border. Said, done, 5 min later we had our insurance for 15 days, 30 Lari (10€). And now immediately in the connection the question where one gets here a Georgian Simkarte. Then the policeman standing at the door took me by the hand and led me a whole 10m further, there in the shop there were food, drinks and also SIM cards. The card itself cost 10 Lari (3€), after that we had to go to an ATM, where I could load the card. Everything very easy and fast, if that were so at all borders, it would be a dream.
Since we needed something until the internet really worked (because the first mobile phone we used was too old for the system, when I put the card into our newer mobile phone, it worked immediately). Thomas had spotted a huge and empty truck parking lot in the meantime and as it slowly began to dawn, we decided to stay here. Also here we were again overwhelmed with friendliness and helpfulness, be it to make the mobile phone run, they offered us the showers, the toilets, we should park here for free. We parked at the back so Jerry could lie in front of the car in peace. Later we decided to eat in the restaurant at the shops, we got a delicious salad with sheep's cheese, grilled lamb and a woodruff shower, although not ordered (but really tasty). For the equivalent of 7€. Afterwards we sat really happy and full in front of the car and were happy that everything worked out like clockwork, Yay, we are in Georgia and we feel it already. We have only heard positive things about Georgia about landscape and people and are really curious.
Note: if we cross Georgia to the north, up to the Russian border (the only border crossing to Russia) it is 230 km, if we cross from here, we arrive after 400 km at the Black Sea, Georgia is not bigger. Then let's see what the next day will bring.
once again a wonderful experience of helpfulness. They helped me to get the mobile phone running with the new SIM card and invited us to their parking lot (in the background). They also wanted to offer us water and tea
we had ordered shashlik, we got tasty lamb chops (we still have to practice Russian) and without ordering the woodruff shower was added and besides we were once again the highlight of the evening for all the other guests here, everywhere it was called Alemania.
16.04.19 128.739 km Day 267 Georgia, let's have a look!
After we thanked again the responsible persons of the parking lot, we made our way to the interior of the country. Wetter.com predicts that starting tomorrow we will have rain every day for one week, so that we wanted to use today's sunny day to discover Georgia. We headed west, towards the Black Sea, parallel to the Armenian border. The first impression comes through, because now we see in the light, many dilapidated, dilapidated, abandoned, very poor houses, we feel like 100 years back in time. Chickens, geese, cows, pigs, everything runs freely on the streets here. Cars that already belong to the museum, roads that are tarred for a short time, then mostly muddy or muddy roads, people who seem to be very poor. Big place-name signs at the roadside, but only dirt roads (not even gravel roads) lead there. Also we had to turn around one or the other time, because a road marked yellow on the map ended abruptly in a mud road, which would have gone 40 km so on. Since we had practically got stuck now, in the form of "how do we get to our destination without having to drive over these mud roads", we asked at a taxi stand how we could get out of here again. The whole thing was in Russian and after 2 min explanation the taxi driver sat down in his taxi and drove about 10 km in front of us to show us the turn-off to get to our destination on a solid road. Here it is difficult with the Navi Maps.me or Google Maps. Yellow road does not necessarily mean tarred in reality. Since the taxi driver didn't take a Bakschisch from us, we gratefully cheered him on at least one German chocolate. But the landscape here is breathtaking, everything is green and hilly, simple but beautiful. Ancient, small villages like 100 years ago, time has stood still here. Even if the text above may seem a bit negative, it really is an impressively beautiful country. Compared to the monotonous Azerbaijan this is an absolute hammer. Towards evening the weather became considerably worse. We do not make very fast progress here, since the roads are in a bad condition and we had to turn around and drive back from time to time, we did not reach our actual destination, the Zsalka reservoir, a reservoir (that would have been 172 km), but stayed already after 72 km at another reservoir to spend the night. Yes, according to the road map we needed 72 km, reality 169 km, 5h. But were beautiful and interesting 5h.
When the weather is not so nice anymore, we stand lonely and alone at a reservoir and think about how we want to spend the next days, Georgia is really beautiful, so that we actually want to enjoy it, but unfortunately no nice weather is given to us. Or let's make a detour to Armenia tomorrow to perhaps gain time for better weather here in Georgia. Let's see how it turns out.
Landscape of Georgia
here we still thought, this is bad with the roads, but we were later informed of a better in Armenia, many Georgian roads were really in order, if times bad, then immediately correct
Pictures from Georgia
17.04.19 128.908 km Day 268 Georgien
Still in the night we were woken up by a beeping and noticed that our tire, right behind, very slowly but continuously lost air, about 1 bar in 10h, something is funny. So we dug out our compressor we bought in the USA and inflated the tire again. That worked also at the beginning. When we had 4.5 bar on the tire, the compressor stopped working and we didn't know why. After we tried a few things, we noticed that it was the cigarette lighter that wasn't working (the compressor runs through the 12V connector of the cigarette lighter). Now Thomas wanted to know again exactly, changed the power source to our on-board battery, which has three 12V connections and wanted to increase the pressure of the tire to 5 bar. At that time we didn't know that the fuse had been blown out at the front. And also here nothing worked after a short time, also these connections did not work any more. In addition, the check valve of the compressor was now broken and the air flowed out again instead of into the tires. What we could stop at 4,2 bar. Now we don't have any functional 12V sockets anymore in the car, a tire that loses air, even if it's comfortable and a broken compressor, which we need if there is anything and we are currently in a country where there is not everything and you don't know how to start with English, here everything really only goes Russian and as an encore, the weather is very bad, it's really cold and it rains heavily. All in all these were the conditions to have a wonderful day. Ok, first air on the tires, which turned out to be more difficult, because at gas stations there is no compressed air, you get coffee, chips, sweets and of course gasoline, but unfortunately you can't find a compressed air connection there. To get air into the tires, you have to find a tire dealer. Which we did. After a few kilometres we were also successful. Successfully in the form that I asked in a butcher's shop, one there again everything stood and left (one was straight to divide a cow), sat down in the car and showed us so the way to a workshop, we drove afterwards. There the tire was inflated. And we also stay there for 2 hours, the pressure in the tire did not change any more.
In that time we dedicated ourselves to our no longer working 12V connectors (Peggy, right now came your whatsapp regarding lawn mowing ;-). An email to Autodoktor Beierlieb from the company Dietz went out, regarding the 12V cans in the interior, because according to our research everything was fine, but the cans still didn't work. We asked if there are still any hidden fuses that we haven't found yet. After studying the Fiat manual we found out that the cigarette lighter had a separate fuse in the engine compartment, which was also through, but we didn't find a replacement, because other, smaller fuses were used there. H. Beierlieb responded very quickly, we found the fuses for the interior, which were also defective and could replace them, for the fuse for the cigarette lighter we had no replacement and had to get them now somehow here. After 2h, after the tire showed no pressure loss, we made our way to the next bigger city. All this took place with pouring rain. After several attempts, we managed to find a shop where we got fuses. Replaced, everything worked again. And everything built back again, because we had removed everything before. Deep breath. Now we started looking for a new compressor. By the way, the police were very helpful here because they took us to a shop where you can buy tools and car accessories. There were exactly two of them, one with too short cable, the other with broken plug. And so we stood there a bit helpless for a moment and told ourselves that we would look again in Tbilisi if we could find a compressor there. The tyre still didn't lose any air. On the way back to our parking lot at the reservoir we saw a hardware store and said, try makes wise, and they also had a compressor there, but not with the right connection. And here we were really lucky, there was someone here who could speak English perfectly and this talking with hands and feet got a break. Funny, all employees of the shop, about 10 people gathered at our place and we heard in the background all the time : Allemania.
After some telephone conversations of the English-speaking employee, we were informed that a suitable device would be in the shop tomorrow at 14h, it would be ordered now. And we decided to stay another day and buy the compressor there tomorrow.
Around noon the weather got better again and we took a look at the area to get back to our old pitch in the late afternoon. Still, no pressure loss at the tire. Now we sat a little bit in front of the car and recovered from the really annoying and exhausting morning. The language barriers don't make the whole thing easy.
I anticipate: At night it beeped again, the tire lost air again, instead of 5 bar, we now have only 3.2 bar, it is really strange. And so another "beautiful" day lies ahead of us, similar to yesterday. With the small difference that we don't have to search anymore, but know where we have to go.
Here in Georgia the people are very helpful, even if at first very reserved, we always get help, but everything works with the simplest means, often we don't know if they speak Georgian or Russian at the moment, we have to find out that every time with difficulty. You can tell by the fact that the Google translator translates crap with the wrong language. That's very tedious.
18.04.19 128.982 km Day 268
A beautiful day with many moments of happiness
Against the weather forecast, the sun shone into the car this morning. Our tire still had 3.3 bar instead of 5.0 bar. So again to our one-man workshop, about 7 km from here. Arrived there, he greeted us smiling. Now we have examined the tire more exactly and determined that a nail was in it. While Thomas was already unpacking one of our two spare tires, he waved it away and in less than a minute the tire was repaired, nail out, some kind of corkscrew in, some sticky brown plasticine pushed in, the pressure pumped up to 5.0 bar again. I put it into a bathtub filled with water and found it good. I screwed the tyres on again. The whole thing took 5 minutes. Funny, but in the 5 minutes more locals joined us, out of curiosity. One could break German and said that this will hold and work. Since Thomas said, we have 2 spare tires, whether this is changed here or somewhere else, no matter, we try it. I anticipate again: it stops in Armenia despite the most miserable roads we have ever driven in our lives. Pothole to pothole. At pothole to pothole over 200 km. The Dempster Highway in Canada, which we already drove on, is a piece of cake. Now we wanted to show our gratitude and he waved off smiling and also with emphasis it was not possible to pay him his performance. After several minutes of conversation we were moved, because once again we were helped uncomplicatedly and selflessly and because we finally knew the reason of the problem (the nail in the car caused this slow loss of pressure).
Picture 1: the repairer
Picture 2: the nail
Figure 3: the blockage/sealant inserted into the hole
Addendum: it has now been holding for 9.000 km
Since the compressor is supposed to be ready for pick-up around 15h, we drove a little to the right and left of the main road. The sun was shining, it was really warm and the lush green meadows and hills, populated by cattle and sheep, offered an idyllic and inviting impression. We felt really comfortable. Georgia makes us feel good. Around 13 h we drove before our hardware store, after I had made again a bulk purchase, there is here actually a Spar, I was in the sky, after the long time such a large selection. The basic food here costs only a few cents and the standard things about half to Germany. The diesel (not at Spar;-)) is about 0,80€/L. And to our and especially Rudis great joy there was here for the first time again EURO Diesel. But it was also more expensive, but Rudi earned it. We ranked on the building market parking lot and already the saleswoman came to us rush, the package was already there. Great, now we had gained 2 hours time. Since Armenia is only 20 km and 30 min away from here, we made our way directly to the border with still really wonderful weather.
Picture 1: We often noticed that the European one almost always hangs next to the Georgian one.
Picture 2: a detergent seller, but here 5 or 6 are directly behind each other.
Transition Georgia to Armenia
The Georgian border exit took 3 minutes. The vehicle was driven up, passport and registration papers were given in. We were typed into the computer, stamped, looked at the car only superficially without going in and already we were out (we'll come back soon).
Welcome to Armenia
There is no scenic difference between Georgia and Armenia. In the cities Armenia is much poorer.
we stopped to photograph the entrance sign to Armenia and were immediately reprimanded by soldiers and asked to continue "no photo!!!".
We are in Armenia
The Armenian border was as follows:
All the border guards were very sustainable (almost arrogant). But it went nevertheless very briskly and objectively to the thing. Looking into the car, driving ahead, here Susanne had to get out with pass and our ways separated. Now the passport was demanded, drive up further meters. Then he discovered the dog and wanted the dog papers. At that moment Susanne came back again, gave him the dog papers to copy and we were sent to the scanner which scanned the car and found it ok. So back again, pick up the copied dog papers, pay 20€ customs duty. And we were done. Then we were allowed to cross the border, actually quite simply. Directly in the yard before the exit there was the necessary car insurance (32€/10 days, seems a bit expensive, but here it went very fast) and SIM cards (10€/ 2GB). We left the border within one hour, including the necessary things like insurance, SIM card and exchange money.
If you think now, Georgia and Armenia are the same, for us no difference at first, two small countries, which lie together, we were first taught a better lesson. For example, the road conditions, which were already not good in Georgia, worsened many times over, one can say that 2/3 of Armenia consists of a pothole. It also became much poorer in terms of buildings, cars and people. What was impressive in Georgia was topped here. The first kilometers we drove more or less with open mouth through the country. Everything seemed to have come down really well, we already said about Georgia, it has an effect 100 years ago, here you can say, rather 200 years. But we also look for differences and want to see and experience such things, otherwise we could stay at home. Landscape-wise it was like Georgia, green, hilly, really beautiful. We decided to drive about 200km south into the interior of the country to the lake Sevan. Which is almost half of the country, Armenia is even smaller than Georgia. We drove through beautiful scenery with still nice weather and sunshine, it was really fun. It was actually also a pleasant 15°C, but with the selection of our planned pitch, which was off the beaten track with a beautiful view, directly on the water, that is, what makes a camper's heart beat faster and is also easily accessible, not considering that it is at 2200 m altitude and when we arrived there in the late afternoon, the +15°C had reduced to +2°C, believe it or not, in still nice weather. There was a little surprise, there were two Germans from Erfurt here and there was an interesting small talk in our warm car. They were on their way to Iran and so we exchanged our experiences with them.
And I fell in love again. But really. So that I have really heartache. And at the same time we still had a problem in the evening.
Because a cute little stray dog, but so cuddly, so loving, so cuddly (the opposite of Jerry) strolled all the time around me and around the car. So that Jerry couldn't get out of the car and smelled the dog and he smelled him. But you couldn't drive him away because he was so sweet. The next morning it was so hard to say goodbye, he was lying right in front of the car waiting for us. Which was the reason why we left so abruptly, because we could only get Jerry outside with tricks.
While the cities are old and run down, the meadows, fields are really lush, green and inviting, the landscape is really attractive.
Picture 2+3: unfortunately not showing how bad the potholes really were here. Really extreme.
Picture 4: We can't read signs any more for a long time.
Picture 1: Entrance to a city
Picture 2: a gas station (we did not refuel in Armenia, was not so trustworthy)
two photos have become something of these old cars, we had a few more, but they have all become nothing (camera was wrongly adjusted). This kind of cars are still driving around in masses.
View from our overnight place
dreamlike place to stay overnight at Lake Sevan. Unfortunately only a little bit cold, because we are at 2100m.
19.04.19 129.224 km Day 269
If we still had a dream weather yesterday, today we had the opposite, it rained the whole day completely, it was partly very foggy and should remain the same also the next 3 days. So, what to do? We have a dream place, we have everything we need on board to stay longer here. But it doesn't rain up here, it snows. We thought about it for a while, but we didn't really feel like staying here at the low temperatures. And also for Jerry it's stupid, because the little pet dog didn't leave our side, which Jerry couldn't accept and understand at all. Also we didn't feel like driving further into the country in this weather, because the road conditions are really critical under these conditions, you can't see the potholes anymore, the people drive like executioners. On the way back we passed 4 accidents with a car on the roof at the roadside. The people drive much too fast for these road conditions.
We finally decided to drive back comfortably, through Georgia, towards the Russian border. The Russian border lies on the summit of a mountain range, behind which the weather is better again. So we drove back through the beautiful landscape when it rained heavily, but we couldn't see it as well as yesterday when the weather was good.
Around 13h we stood at the border from Armenia to Georgia. This time it cost nothing to leave Armenia and was take it easy. I had to get out again for the passport control, as I entered the building I unfortunately had to find out that there were about 40 people in front of me and that lasted. Thomas was much faster and had to wait 15min for me. Short look into the car, that was it.
Georgia: only passport scanned, short look into the car, drive on. If we subtract my waiting time, this would have been a border crossing of 10 min in total. Georgians like Europeans, we could investigate that in the apron. The Georgian border is no problem for Europeans. And you see the Georgian and the European flag next to each other again and again. Since we were quite early, we did not drive again to our old parking place at the reservoir, but drove, as before considered, in the direction of the Russian border, which is now still 182 km, whereby we must however once across Tiflis.
impressions of Tbilisi shot out of the car, stopping was not so easy and it rained heavily, the city did not seem so inviting to us.
We passed Tbilisi, once across, a few sights lay on the way. The city itself looks very poor, everywhere prefabricated buildings. We crossed the river Kura and then we went up continuously. Exactly 100 km before the border there were kilometers of trucks parked on the right side. The sense we understood only later. Because 40 km before the border, we were meanwhile already at an altitude of 2000m, we understood the system. The pass road is so narrow that trucks are brought over like convoys, because if oncoming trucks would meet, the road would be too narrow, thus always a lane is closed. Whether this also applies to passenger cars, we could not perceive. We drove for a long time without any traffic, neither on our side nor on the opposite side. And here began my nightmare and Thomas had fun with the thing. Because the cars overtook the trucks like harakiri, Thomas in the middle of it. Because the pass road rarely had room for 2 cars next to each other. Furthermore it was aggravating that we were meanwhile at 2m snow height right and left at the road. It snowed easily and there were tunnels, they were so big that a truck could just drive in the middle. They were unlit, unventilated, ellong and there were potholes that an elephant could have bathed in. Thomas said this is where the natural selection takes place, whoever arrives at the top deserves it. We can confirm 100% that not everyone arrived at the top. Because here and there there there were gedetschte cars in the middle of the road, around which you had to drive.
Since Thomas was highly concentrated, I couldn't even talk to him at that moment (I couldn't, my teeth were chattering), we didn't notice how close we were to the border. There were also broken trucks that didn't make it up the hill and had to be bypassed. It was absolute horror what happened here. This results from the fact that the border from the Georgian side is the only border to Russia. It is like a bottleneck. Thomas had also warned me in advance that this day would be our worst if we had to go through this heavily frequented bottleneck. We had calculated a whole day for this. We managed it in 6 hours incl. border crossing. First of all, the Russian side was easy, well developed road, no more problems while driving.
Picture 1: the pass road looks like this, not exactly so trustworthy
Picture 2: there we have meandered so approx. 40km through, the trucks drove also
Picture 3: here you can see the snow masses and how narrow it was partly.
Around 19h we arrived at the top and stood in front of the Georgian border and now the question arose, hopp or top, do we want to cross today or wait until tomorrow morning. There was the possibility to spend the night here directly. But the snow increased and the snow stayed there. It gave us the impression that there was not much going on today, and the chances for a relatively fast transition were perhaps good. There are reports on the internet from people queuing up to 14h in front of the border. So we decided to tackle it directly, even if we are not really prepared.
And now again in great detail, how the matter went exactly, for people who read it and plan a similar trip themselves. Before the Georgian side, the last 40 km have it very much in itself, one needs very long and it can also be that one must wait 1-2 hours, until one is left again on the pass, because one-sidedly closed. The Georgian border was easy again, only the passenger has to leave the car. Car and Thomas were through in 3 min, I needed again at least 15 min, because I had 30 persons at the passport control in front of me. Only the documents were scanned, stamped, control did not take place. But the Russian part had it then in itself. We went through another tunnel this time very well developed and had to thread ourselves into marked lanes. Then we stood. Before us approx. 2x40 cars on two lanes. Then there was a break. We observed that approx. every 10 min 10 cars were allowed to continue. After about half an hour it was our turn. One drove around a curve and was again instructed. Now we stood directly before the border. There were 7 control points next to each other open, at which cars were dispatched. We watched the cars standing in front of us, which were all handled very quickly and superficially and were already looking forward to it. And now it was our turn. Left, passport control, driving licence, vehicle registration card, immigration card (one should print oneself out before from the Internet and fill out). An official began to enter our data in the computer and kept the identity cards. Another officer kept the driver's license and we were supposed to drive 10m further forward and wait. Someone would come, takes 5 min. Very polite, but since here now really only Russian goes and we have no Internet yet, so also no Google translator works, it was very laborious. They were helpful, but somehow also helpless how to tell us what is coming now. Then we waited about an hour until a very well dressed, nice, quite good English speaking man came and asked us to follow him. We were taken to a separate building in a small office and then an interview began, for example in the form who you are, why you are here, what is the route, what do you do professionally, etc. After 10 minutes Thomas had no more buck and asked him if there was a problem with us, what was the reason for this questioning. I flinched slightly. But the man apologized and said, this is a special border, Georgia doesn't control anything, so we have to be more precise there and then the Syrian conflict. Do we look like Syrians, Thomas asked. It was ok, now it was my turn with the catalogue of questions. He hammered a text into his computer for about 20 minutes. Then he explained to us again clearly our visa, so that it comes to no misunderstandings. We have a yearly visa, can enter and leave as often as we want, the number of entries is not limited. But we are only allowed to be in the country for 90 days in a period of 180 days. After 180 days latest departure. If one would enter then again one has again 90 days stay within the next 180 days.
Since we will pass the border 4 or 5 times, we had to choose this type of visa, because normally you have only 2 entries. After one hour the procedure was finished, the whole thing was recorded by a camera in a corner of the room. The commissioner had photographed all our documents in his mobile phone. He brought us back to car. Now came the customs clearance. But for a change we went fast, filled out the form of the customs declaration, one DIN A4 page (we have to print it out and fill it in first, otherwise we will stand in line twice). Then everything was done, we were through. We drove now the last 100m to outside the border area, it was meanwhile after midnight, the whole procedure took over 5h. Oh yes, the car was only superficially looked at, one or the other compartment opened, duration 30 sec. The dog was forgotten, he was supposed to be a veterinarian. In the meantime the official who withheld the driving licence had changed, dog was no longer an issue. The Immigrationskarte and customs certificate absolutely keep, is needed with the departure. It did not cost anything. But...nerves.
However one must stress, it was absolutely polite, helpfully expired, but with very many waiting times.
We parked right next to the border on a parking lot and fell into our beds, happy, but also totally exhausted we fell asleep. .
As we drove on in the morning, we saw that after the border there are many parking possibilities, also for sleeping, but directly at the road.
Welcome to Russia
20.04.19 129.636 km Day 270
are in Russia on the way Rostov-on-Don-Volgograd(Stalingrad)-Astrakhan
Around 9 o'clock we drove happily, because we had the border behind us, off in the direction of Rostov-on-Don, here we come to 150 km to the Crimea. Then we go on to Volgograd (the former Stalingrad), and then on to Astrakhan. Then we will enter Kazakhstan in a few days. In total this is about 1800 km, a small round trip through Russia.
The first tasks, as always, were to organize Russian rubles and another SIM card, so that we are online again. The first attempts at the ATM failed. Here everything is in Russian, you just can't see what to do. We stopped a passerby and asked to help us, it turned out that the machine has no connection today. Then this man grabbed me and took me to a bank 5 minutes away. There I could change Euros into rubles. For 500€ I got 35.000 rubles. Another problem less. When I asked my nice companion, where I get a SIM card, he showed me a shopping center where I got the card with a 3 month contract, without volume limit for 7€ per month. Since we will stay from now on most of the time and also still for a long time in Russia, it fits already. Now we had to refuel, even if the tank was still half full. We were looking for a filling station with Eurodiesel. The fueling here is in the following form, you go to the gas station, pay as much fuel as you want, the column is unlocked, the amount is pre-programmed, if you misjudge, you get the money back. All roads are taken and now we are on our way to Rostov. The roads are good and the country is very flat, no mountains far and wide. Actually it looks like home, everything is modern. You really see only a few old Ladas.
But what is already on our minds: we have already driven 200 km comfortably straight ahead and have been stopped 7 times by the police to check our documents. Or also inspection of the motorhome. Jerry is totally annoyed, because every time he gets a muzzle over his head.
What we see so far, we are also very helpful here, but linguistically it is really problematic.
The weather is getting better and better, it has finally stopped raining, we have 8 degrees again, it gets a little brighter outside.
The grocery stores let a sun shine in your heart, there is real bread again, even dark bread, there is sausage, there were actually radishes. That such little things can make you so happy :-))
21.04.19 129.909 km Day 271 escaped with a blue eye
The sun is shining...finally!! Today it was 20°C. Since we came along the big road E50 through bigger cities, which actually looked like at home, the same cars drove around as at home, which means so much, here everything is as modern as at home and not as rustic Russian as we thought, we changed the route and drove directly from here towards Volgograd over small roads and small old villages. And here we also found the original. Flat green landscape alternated with small villages, very nice for the eye, no garbage, everything very neat, tidy, nothing looked like 100 years ago. The small streets are also in a great condition. Actually it was a successful day. If it hadn't been for the police control. Thomas cut a bend (no oncoming traffic) and touched the solid middle line. If he hadn't done that better, we would have had one hour less stress. The situation was recorded by a camera and at the next checkpoint, a few kilometres later, we were waved out and the fun began. First all papers were requested, the car was examined and then Thomas was supposed to follow the police officer into the building. Here he was told that he had crossed a solid line and that in Russia this was an offence if the front or rear tyre alone touched the line. Since the officer could only speak Russian, he painted the offence on a sheet of paper. Then the policeman wanted to write a protocol and suggested to Thomas that the driver's license would be withheld for 3-4 days and a quick meal would determine the penalty, only then would the driver's license be handed back. He should get an interpreter. We could still hear that. The policeman used the Google translator, which only worked outside the building. Thomas pretended to be stupid and the conversation turned in circles for about 20 minutes. When Thomas then said, "Am I arrested now, am I going to jail now? (he went out on the street and typed it into the Google translator and presented it to the policeman in the building) so he dramatized the thing a bit, the policeman waved it away and slowly gave in. After about 1 hour we were allowed to continue without a fine. However, that sat, we had really soft knees. The thing could have ended differently. Since several policemen were involved in the matter, we don't believe that they just wanted to take money out of our pockets, but that this is being pursued really rigorously. Of course we drove absolutely true to speed and line and watched the traffic even better and noticed that nobody drove over a solid line to overtake.
Oh yes, Thomas asked for a proof at the beginning and it was delivered by means of a photo.
We drove only a few more kilometres and found a resting place and decided to let it go for today, because the control has already done a bit.
The sunset in the steppe has something, too.
The inhabitants in this area have a completely different effect on us than before, Mongolian/ Asian on us.
Memorial to the Battle of Kalmykia in Elista
every place has a monument at the entrance
22.04.19 130.343 km Day 272
The weather is good, blue sky, sun, 20°C. We drove back another 20 km this morning to visit the city of Elista, which was really worth it. The pictures below speak for themselves.
The people here look Asian. Elista, the republic capital of Kalmykia in the extreme southeast of the European Russia. The Kalmyks are a Mongolian people who came to the lower Volga region in the early 17th century and settled there. They are the only predominantly Buddhist people in Europe. And this can be clearly seen in Elista. Buddhist temples, pagodas and Buddhas can be found everywhere.
Buddhist sounds can be heard everywhere in the background. The city radiates something special.
This is the first time in our life that we came into contact with Buddhism so intensively and especially from now on and it makes us think positively.
Then we went on towards Volgograd/ Stalingrad. The landscape remained flat, the road was good, we had a pleasant ride and took many breaks. On the way from Elista to Volgograd over 70 years ago the Russia campaign of the 2nd World War took place. Everywhere are monuments, memories, tombstones, which remind of this terrible time, when the Germans were in Russia. Around 16h we reached Volgograd, driving a car here in the city (1 million inhabitants) was very exhausting. We visit the "Mother of Russia", a huge statue standing above the city and the Pavlov House, a bombed house still standing here as a memorial. Afterwards we crossed the Volga, right on the left bank we had a great overnight place in the sand dunes. As it was still pleasantly warm, we sat in front of the car for a long time. The history of the 2nd World War is omnipresent, because we were standing exactly where the battlefield used to be.
Planned for tomorrow: unfortunately first the long busy way out of the city, then the Volga along direction Astrachon, in order to leave Russia tomorrow or the day after tomorrow first again and to open for us a new little door, namely Kazakhstan. What we have seen of Russia so far: good roads, everything flat, much straight ahead, meadows, everything green, the people are very reserved, we are actually hardly noticed, but when you walk towards them, it takes a moment and then they are ready to help. Linguistically, it is still a challenge and sometimes leads to misunderstandings, even when shopping in the supermarket, because you can't really recognize anything. The big cities look like in Germany, nothing is left behind, the villages are a feast for the eyes. We liked the 2.000km in our first part of Russia very much and we are curious when we leave Mongolia later and then drive completely from east to west through the Russian territory.
Every 2nd gas station has Eurodiesel, the price is converted at 0,64 €/L, the price level for food is about 1/3 lower than in Germany.
Up to now we were not allowed to drive faster than 90 kmh on the roads here, so for 400km you often need a whole day. However, we often drove smaller roads, because we want to see something and not only country road.
Now it is still 300 km to the Kazakh border behind Astrachon. The navigation says 5h.
Either we sleep directly before the border, or we breathe already Kazakh air tonight.
Buddhist temple, Zolotaya Obitel´Buddy Skah´Yamini in Elista. Has fascinated us
the first time in my life that I touch or turn prayer wheels.
another buddhist landmark, everywhere the colorful flags hang and the believers run around the landmark and turn a prayer mill
Pamyatnik - Pagoda of Seven Days, in the middle of the city of Elista. It is fascinating for us, quiet music is playing in the background.
Information sign to the museum. This is the only sign with the old name "Stalingrad" on it.
Remains from 1943. This building stands directly on the bank of the Volga and was long fought over. Now it is being preserved as a memorial.
the Pawlow House, remains of which have been preserved and are also used as a memorial. Named after the officer Pawlow, who tried to defend this house for a long time.
the mother is huge and towering over everything
Mother Russia, watches over Volgograd
on the Mamayev hill in southern Russian Volgograd is a colossal statue erected to commemorate the victory of Soviet forces in the Great Patriotic War.
Our view of Volgograd/ Волгоград/Stalingrad from our overnight stay on the Volga
23.04.19 130.682 km Day 273
as already mentioned, we're heading for Kazakhstan today. In spite of speedy driving along the Volga we arrived relatively late shortly before the border, 90kmh is the speed limit on the roads, but somehow you can't get ahead. Today we had only one control. And according to IOverlander we had an overnight place 5 km before the border directly at the Volga, which we also headed for. The dirt road became sandier and sandier and the fishermen we wanted to sleep with had dogs, so if we had stayed we would have had a problem with Jerry. We decided to cross the border today and spend the night directly behind it. Normally we describe the border crossings in detail. But not necessary today, because you drive in, there is only one house, it is a very small, little frequented border, gives vehicle registration, immigration card and passport. It takes 3-4 minutes, you get everything back, short view into the car and you are through. Russian side altogether 10 min with good mood and much laughter. Super-friendly, laughing border officials. Actually we all had fun, so it can go.
The rest of the day comes in the blog Kazakhstan - crossing the border Kazakhstan
so are the Russian roads (the Kazakh will come soon). Steppe, one looks in every direction as far as the eye can see. What looks really good here in road and really green in meadows will soon change in Kazakhstan as we unfortunately had to find out.
shortly before the Russian border we had to cross a pontoon bridge. Everything over 4t has to go a detour of 2x30 km upstream. That has swayed quite badly, the plates move, one must be very careful, since also sharp-edged parts stand upward between the plates.