Friday, 17 May 2013

Reflections in the Caspian Sea

And so gentle reader we reach the end of the second stage of our great adventure. The first stage crossed Europe to the edge of Asia. The second traversed Anatolia and the Caucuses to the very start of Central Asia. The heart of the Silk Road, the 'Stans, lie before us.

Two days stuck on a freighter looking at the shore and the oil rigs gives a chance to relax and reflect.

Turkey was a revelation. Ancient cities, bustling towns, high grassland and mountain passes. Great food: Turkish Pizza (pide), kebab, baklava, stews, salads, beer and wines. The people were friendly and welcoming and the roads wide and fast. Definitely somewhere to come back to.

The contrast between islamic Turkey and christian Georgia was stark. Everything changed in an instant. Tbilisi was strange and magical. Well on the way to becoming a trendy "destination" alongside Barcelona or Amsterdam.

What we saw of Azerbaijan was cool and calm. Apart from Baku which was more like the London rush hour on a hot day in July.

The group has been great and, so far, lucky. The journey has gone smoothly (border crossings, ferry bookings). Mechanical issues have been few and minor (flat battery, minor breakages). Health good (sore bums are toughening up). Relationships genial, relaxed and supportive.

The next weeks across the deserts and then off road into the Pamir mountains will prove more of a challenge.

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