When we go on vacations, one gets the impression that everything is always perfect. But in fact, it is not. To prove our point, we will tell you a story of our rent-a-car experience in Georgia.
We decided to make a tour around Georgia and Armenia, we bought plane tickets and began planning our trip. We decided, that since we did not have so much time, we would rent a car and drive around by ourselves. Just to be safe, we did not choose one of the murky local agencies but one of the international vehicle renting agencies because they had full insurance and roadside assistance. Because, well, you never know. We were warned that people in countries from old Soviet union drive like crazy, but hey, we drove in Sicily, how crazy can it be…well… You’ll find out.
We rented a tiny KIA Picanto, which is big enough for us and we do not carry much luggage with us. The plan was to visit Jvari Monastery of Mtskheta. We trusted our GPS, but it took the shortcut, and we ended up on a dirt road full of holes deep up to 25 cm. Our tiny car was almost as big as the holes! At the beginning driving between holes was fun, but we soon got tired of it, and it took us half an hour longer to get to our destination. When we reached Jvari, the trip was well worth it. We thought that roads could not get any worse than this and if we survived this, nothing could stop us.
Our trip continued towards Kazbeg. The roads to Kazbeg were mostly ok, apart from the parts of the asphalt in the middle of the road being cut away with asphalt cutting machine, without any warning signs. It reminded us of a video game where you have to avoid holes if you want to survive.
Four in a row
The road from Gori towards Kutaisi was surrounded by stalls, where one could buy almost anything, from bread and nuts covered in honey to clay figures. The road is very popular with locals and Russians on their way to the seaside in Batumi, and it was hectic. Because of all the shops and people stopping in front of them, the road was quite narrow. Nonetheless, people were still driving three or even four cars in a row on a two-way road. We were surprised that we only saw one accident, and at the same time very happy we did not have any problems of our own.
Blowout tire or two
Our biggest nightmare renting a car was a blowout tire. It happened on the road from Mestia to Zugdidi. First one of the tires looked a bit empty, so we decided to fill it up, avoiding problems later. After some waiting, pantomime, hands showing and our broken Russian we got to vulcanizer. He tried to fill the tire up, but we found out that tire was busted. We inspected the tire and found out it was very old and worn out. We checked the other tires and found out that we have another one just like it. As he didn’t have a tire small enough to fit on our car (because who in the right state of mind would drive a tiny car in Georgia?), he set up our spare one, and we were on our way. Halfway to Zugdidi, in the middle of nowhere, the other tire blowout too. We were in the middle of no-where, and the only thing for kilometers around was one small bar. We were lucky because they lend us their phone to call the agency. We then waited for the assistance from Zugdidi for an hour and a half. They took both busted tires and told us they’d be back as soon as possible; they need to go back to Zugdidi to get tires. Well, it took them three hours to get down, find tires and get back to us, because, well no-one in Georgia sells such small tires because, again, who would drive such a small car 🙂 We did lose a whole day, but now we have a fun story to share.