Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Day 9 Manic drivers, Millionnaires and More...

We woke at 7 to find the town up and about before us, we were certainly causing quite a stir. Everyone seemed to be staring at us as they walked or drove by. Some had taken to sitting on the benches and staring at us. I was like we were 3 headed aliens and we had landed our space craft in the centre of the town. I did occur to us that for many this would be the first evertime they had seen English people and English cars in their country. Blake was making a cup of tea while John was still fast alseep in his hammock strapped up between two trees, the Police stopped by to say hello or that's what we thought they were saying.

The mission now was to get to the port of Baku as soon as possible, Blake and Dan's Turkmenistan visas started the next day and with the limit of 5 days only in the country time was short so it wasn't a good start when we spent the morning getting lost in the middle of nowhere in villages with roads no more than dirt tracks. We rectified the situation and got back on the main road, again heading East.

Around mid afternoon we were nearing the Capital Tbilisi in the East of the country, when a black Jeep overtook us, swerved in and signalled for us to pull over. We had suffered being cut up and having to move from our own side the road for oncoming overtaking drivers all day so we were used to the bad driving but had no idea what this was about. We pulled over and two men jumped out the back of the Jeep. They came over and there was instant relief when we heard them speak in English.

Apparently one of them had seen the rally setting off in Hyde Park and had read something about it in a paper, they had seen the cars and had been amazed we had got so far. They had then taken it upon themselves to pull us over and invite us to lunch, and again for the 3rd day in a row of strange and weird situations we decided to go with it. We followed them to the outskirts of Tbilisi and down so more dodgy looking roads with even weirder surroundings. For those of you who have seen the the film Hostel, you will know exactly what we were thinking when they lead us in the general direction of this building.

Luckily they had no intentions on torturing to death and did simply want to take us for lunch. We went to what was said to be the best retaurant in Georgia, it was set on a river bank with tables littered down the hillside, pathways and steps connecting them all. The two guys, Daniel and David (accompanied by their driver/guide/body guard) ordered pretty much every dish on the menu and numerous jugs of wine despite our insistance that we wanted to reach the Azerbaijan border that evening. We got chatting and it turned out that Daniel and David were out here doing business, they were property developers and they had just secured a mulit-million pound contract to build flats and houses to sell to wealthy business men around the world. They were predicting Tbilisi to be the next Rome or Prague as the tourist hotspot, the place to go for weekends away etc. If they were right then they were set to be very rich men (not that they went already by the looks of it). One of their friends came to join us, Louis who turned out to be the son of the British Ambassador.

As the afternoon went on and the wine kept flowing they soon convinced us to stay the night, Louis would put us up in his house and they would take us out for the evening. The opportunity to have a shower was very inviting so didn't take long for us to accept. So David paid the bill (which was of a considerable amount) and we left.

Lunch in Georgia; (left to right) David, John, Dan, The bodyguard, Daniel, Blake, Chris and Louis

Louis' house was in the old town and very nice, on four floors with a spiral stair case leading up to a balcony looking out over the city. It didn't take long for the affects of the alcohol and afternoon heat to take affect John, Blake and Dan who were soon asleep on the balcony. Louis who had a bit much wine had gone off looking for McDonalds in a drunken stupor.

Daniel and David sooned turned up ready to take us out for the evening, I managed to raise Dan but it was like trying to raise the dead with Blake and John so we left them and headed out. We wandered down a series of old quaint alleyways past restaurants and bars until we found one that Daniel recommended, I passed a cash machine and said I needed to get some money, the reply I got back was "Oh, you won't be needing money tonight!" We found another group of English people who were on holiday and we spent the evening telling them of our adventures on the rally. Again there was more wine and amazing food which was paid for by David.

We left late and headed back to Louis', on the way past the car their was a man who apparently was the 'Parking attendant' and said we needed to pay for leaving our cars, David's reaction to this was simply hand him a wad of cash and send him on his way.

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