#SubaruOfftrax Week Four Highlights

August 14th-20th

It was within hours, that Georgia would become one of our favourite countries visited on this trip. And after spending 6 nights throughout the country it became everyone’s absolute favourite to date. Must have been a perfect mix of the wine, people, variety of landscapes, food and costs that won us all over.
In Batumi, on the Black Sea coast on a ‘day off’ from driving we all went about our own ways, till regrouping at the beach for a swim. That night we quickly discovered the variety of Georgian foods; chef hat dumplings full of different types of meat and white ‘porch pounder’ wine.
The following day, back on the road to the capital city of Tbilisi was longer than expected. OfftraxOutback stopped at a roadside diner where the lovely older woman served the only thing she had in the kitchen which was a spicy stew, fresh crusty bread, hot peppers and a couple of beers, all for under $10
After meeting with the Subaru Motors in Tbilisi for photos and an oil change, we all met up and dined near Freedom Square, sampling more fine Georgian wine.
As the boys were still on the hunt to get the skid plate, us ladies took off up into the mountains.  We first stopped at Makheti, the birthplace of Georgia.  Then we drove up to 2300m where there were ski lifts and upwards to Kazbegi, near the Russian border. We kind of stumbled THE ROOM, a magnificent hotel/casino with views to die for. We went so far to look at a room and were really tempted, but, NO, we wanted to camp. Luckily upon asking about camping on the hotel’s grounds and they said yes for $25.00 for a 10 star camping spot!. We had a 5star lunch on the massive deck overlooking the mountains, lounging, feeling relaxed. After setting up the teepee we sipped our own cocktails in the hotel’s beanbag chairs. That night we checked out the bedroom-like casino, where Corinne won a whopping $20 on roulette.
Woke up to a magnificent sunrise hitting the teepee.  We managed to get a couple of free breakfasts and some excellent coffee at the posh hotel. Took a long detour, aka the backroads to Signaghi, with a stop in Tavali for lunch. En route, a German owned vineyard gave us an awesome tour and we did some sampling and purchased a few bottles of the Saparvi for $6/bottle.  Signaghi is a stone walled town of 2000 and we found rooms at Nato&Lato’s Guest House where we were greeted with homemade Georgian cha cha, a national potent spirit, and traditional folk music. The boys met us there with a skid plate-HURRAY!!!!!
We took the following day off, wandering the small, visiting Pheasant Tears, a local winery where they age their wine in clay cask that are covered in honeycomb and sunk into the ground.  The cat back at our Guest House finally showed us her kittens and so of course we had to go out and buy them some dried fish. We had a roaring game of blackjack where the forms of money were everything from corks to a lighter to random coins to a bottle cap. Andy cleaned house!
 It was tough saying goodbye to Georgia, but also welcoming as we knew Azerbaijan onwards was going to be challenging…first step, getting the cars across the border.
To everyone’s surprise crossing the border only took an hour. The drivers and went separately, while us passengers walked across. Smooth sailing and no issue with the car not being in Corinne’s name, though wearing the Subaru Rally Team Canada shirt doesn’t hurt. We drove to Sheki a very old town in Azerbaijan and we ended up staying at a caravanserai which was over 300 years old with really thick walls, so no AC needed. The street side front door was massive but closed as there was a tiny door that opened up into a massive ancient lobby, then beautiful courtyard. Definitely one of the more unique places we’ve stayed, and at a good price.
300km later, in the capital city of Baku we stayed in the Old City, within the UNESCO walls. That evening Cameron the Marketing Manager at Subaru Baku took us out for an awesome dinner. It started with plates of cheeses, salads, yogurt, chicken, veg, bread, all of this before the roast lamb. First came the minced lamb and then the HUGE racks with tomato and eggplant. Everything was delish, including the three bottles of vodka…
Best of week four: All things Georgian: wine, food, people, variety of landscapes, selection of beers, affordability. Most unexpected country.