After a solid week in Tbilisi, mostly spent nursing a cold and trying not to go stir-crazy in the hostel, we finally made it out of the city, and headed east.
It only took us about 4 hours to get onto the road (I blame this on too many coffee breaks, and also, er, taking the bus for 25 minutes one way only to have a local tell us we were going in the complete opposite direction).
For anyone looking to hitch to Kakheti (Telavi or Sighnaghi) from Tbilisi: head to the airport on the 37 bus, hop off on the bypass before it turns to the airport, and start hitching from one of the petrol stations.
As per usual, we got plenty of odd looks from locals, and for the second time, a local bus stopped for us. When we told him we were trying to hitch, he looked at us like we were aliens, and told us he could give us a lift for no money.
Resigned, we accepted his offer and he kindly dropped us off in a nearby town which was quieter and easier to hitch a lift.
After about 3 hours, and 4 lifts later we managed to hitch 90Km and arrived to the scenic, Tuscan town of Sighnaghi.
Or so we thought. It was too late to camp, and the guest houses, seeing our desperate looks, were cranking up the prices. We were determined to find the cheapest in town and finally settled for a guest house (Fatima) where we helped ourselves to pomegranates growing in the garden.
As it was nearing dinner time, we ventured off to the town to try the notorious wine. Alas, we had the most forgettable wine we’ve had to date. While my eyes watered, Chris compared it to communion wine.
Determined to find somewhere we could enjoy ourselves, we gave in to Lonely Planet recommendations and found a cozy restaurant, where we met a friendly German couple.
The next day began with some lows. We attempted to explore the town and with effort climbed up the steep hills, all the way up a fortress, which was renown for it’s marvellous views, only to encounter this:
Trying to stay positive, we then walked 3Km with our full backpacks in search for the Bodbe Monastery. We worried it wouldn’t be a conspicuous attraction, but were soon confronted by copious tourists buses and opportunistic locals surrounding a monastery that was covered in scaffolding.
Trying not to give up hope, we walked out and found a cafe in a stunning location offering gorgeous views over the Caucasus and… good wine! Let’s just say we extended our welcome there for a while.
The day ended on a better note, where we hitched with a friendly group of Russians, got off in a quiet vineyard and camped deep in the fields, enjoying a make-shift campfire and a cup of instant noodles.