Dear old Bertie died of a heart attack in the 1920s and – according to his wishes – had been stuffed and kept in the little museum on the grounds of the fabulous manor house that Mand and I were visiting for Pimms and cucumber sandwiches. Bertie looked hilarious in his tartan and tweed and hadn’t aged a day. He was characteristically mounted standing up and holding the very glass of whiskey he was drinking when he passed away. The whiskey had evaporated over time, but one sleuthy sniff revealed to me the tell-tale smell of almonds in his drink – arsenic, old bean: dear old Bertie didn’t die of a heart attack, he was MURDERED, and what’s more… his killer was in this very room…
Before I could whip around and reveal whodunit, I woke up and found myself on a bus heading east along the banks of the Black Sea. Yesterday I had said my hearty farewells to Atheer and the good folks of the Orient International Hostel (gets a MASSIVE thumbs-up from me!) and we had travelled through the night east, east, east towards the Caucuses.
A day on a bus gives you precious little to write home about, but my fellow passengers were helpful and friendly and (I LOVE TURKEY!) the tea was, of course, free. The Black Sea to our left was, indeed a dark and forbidding slate-coloured affair but the little fishing boats did their best to brighten things up. To be honest I slept until midday. I guess getting sozzled four nights in a row had finally caught up with me. I tell you what though, I’m beginning wake up aching, which isn’t fun… and is doing much to make me believe I am now past the prime of my life.
Around 4pm we made it to the border with country 145: Georgia. The only place round these parts that don’t demand a visa. However, one of our passengers took a good two hours getting through customs, and we had to wait for him. Coupled with the fact that Georgia is not one but TWO hours ahead of Turkey, it was 8pm before we hit the road again.
Mandy had hooked me up with a CouchSurf host in Tbilisi called Rati, but by now I realised it would be well past midnight before we arrived. Rati said it was okay, to ring whenever. What a dude!
It was past 3am before we got there. A heady mixture of terrible roads, fog and driving rain had hampered our efforts somewhat. I took a taxi to Rati’s neighbourhood and met him outside the Chemist’s shop. All I can say is a THANK YOU and express a massive depth of gratitude to Rati for meeting me. I put my stuff on charge and got my head down for the night.