Nici left early on Sunday morning after a fun evening with open-air cinema, film discussion and some drinks at Fabrica, a great place in Tbilisi. Benedikt and I charged the car one more time at the 22kW charging station in the city center of Tbilisi. The interest in the Tesla was very high this time. During the 20 minutes of charging the car, we were constantly surrounded by some men. If they weren’t looking at the different details of the car, they tried to buy our city scooter. We have two of those scooters with us. We want to use them for a fast and independent transportation in cities or during charging stops. So far, we didn’t use them a whole lot, because either the weather was too bad or the street quality too low. But this will change eventually, we believe 😉.
We escaped the crowed and left for the border between Georgia and Armenia. There was no line in front of the border, which was already a good sign. All in all, the border was easy. The only thing that took longer was to register the car to enter Armenia. We first didn’t know that we had to do this and as soon as we found out, the Swiss car documents (in German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romanic) didn’t make the filling out of the documents much faster.
What surprised us after the border crossing, were really bad maintained roads. The number of deep put-holes was extremely high. During the first third of the trip, from the border till Yerevan, our average speed was between 10 and 50 km/h. Luckily the road got better and better the closer we got to Yerevan.
In Yerevan, we could charge the car at a Schuko in the garage of a small hotel close to the city center. We planned to stay for two nights in Yerevan. Therefor charging with only 2kW was ok. After about 24 hours the battery of the car was charged at 85% again. By chance we found a supermarket including a big Armenian food-court on our way out of the city. The supermarket had a underground garage with many three-phase outlets`! Our Turkish adapter, worked with the outlets (which is kind of ironic, considering the relationship between Armenia and Turkey). We were very happy about this finding and charged the car with 11kW while we were having lunch in the food-court.
Yerevan isn’t a particular beautiful city or old city, since a lot of soviet architecture dominates the cityscape. Nevertheless, Benedikt and I were both inspired by the friendly and laid-back culture of the city. Compared to Tbilisi, Yerevan is less touristic, less crowded and somehow maybe even (mainstream) hipper.
Tbilisi is a colorful city where it is fun to stay for a few days. We were lucky to find a nice Airbnb where it almost felt like home, being in Tbilisi. By chance we were in Georgia’s capital while there was a documentary film festival happening. Benedikt and I share with Nici an interest in good movies and film festivals. We enjoyed spending two very different evenings with great films and interesting discussions with the festival crowd of Tbilisi.
Tbilisi felt very European to us. We enjoyed having the spirit of creativity, enthusiasm and young energy that was present in the city. It is not surprising that Tbilisi also offers a few charging stations (even though we did not see any other Electric Vehicle). We charged at one that was located at the central Europe Square. The 22kW charged our car to 90% while we were doing a free walking tour.
Looking back, Benedikt and I both thought, everything would be a bit more complicated than it actually was, at this point of the journey. Let’s see how our trip will continue and at what time the real tough challenges are starting (to be honest, the snow in Montenegro and the broken laptop were already good challenges).
Anyone ever been in a former Soviet country knows Borjomi mineral water. I think the salty taste of this water tastes awful, but it’s supposed to be healthy (and help with hangovers 😉).
After visiting the beautiful Gelati monastery near Kutaisi (check out this post), we drove to Borjomi, the city where the mineral water comes from. It is situated in the north-west of the picturesque Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. Our intention was to stay in a nice hotel and to enjoy the nature while hiking (on a car-free day) in the national park. Despite bad weather forecast, we did a beautiful hike with breathtaking scenery the day after we arrived in Borjomi.
Since we knew that we would be staying for two nights at the hotel, we only asked for a Schuko (2kW) to charge the car. It is a lot easier to find a “normal” Schuko outlet, than a three-phase outlet. The downside of Schuko-charging is just that it takes often more than 30 hours to charge the car to a satisfying level. What people usually don’t know is that the “quality” of the cable and outlet determines the charging process. The hotel in Borjomi offered us an extension cord that they plugged in at some Schuko in the hotel kitchen. The cable was very long and thin. This means the cable cross-section was almost too thin for constant strain or the resistance to high. The extension-cord got warm, even though we were only charging 1kW. Despite the circumstances, we managed to charge the battery to 90% and left after the second night in Borjomi to Tbilisi.
The city of Kutaisi is known as the “second capital of Georgia” with the seat of the parliament. It must have been renovated in the last few years, because it’s charming little roads in the old town are inviting to saunter through them.
We “eexplored” all of this after we brought the Tesla to a charging station a bit outside of the old town at a gas station. It was the same gas station chain (Socar) that offered a charging station in Batumi (check out this post). This time charging 22 kW worked and it was as easy as one can only imagine. We plugged the cable in and it started charging right away. Positive surprises like this are so much appreciated! We returned about two hours later to a 100% charged car. I guess only EV-drivers know what a relieving feeling that is 😉.
With the fully charged car we drove to the Gelati Monestary. The old medieval monestary is impressive from the in- and outside. After that stop we continued to Borjomi, a small town in the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park.
Border Turkey – Georgia
The border crossing from Turkey to Georgia took us more than 4 hours. The combination of many people wanting to cross this border and border controls working in a very average speed let to a long queue of cars (and a much longer one of trucks). This border was the first one, where only I, as the owner of the car, could stay in the Tesla. Benedikt and Nici had to take the pedestrian border crossing. The border controls were all, on the Turkish and on the Georgian side of the border, very curious about the Tesla. Some knew that it is electric, some just thought it looks fancy, but they all could be entertained with facts about the car. That way they got out of their usual border officer roll and were easy to deal with. We’ll see if that is also possible at other borders that will follow…
The city of Batumi is only about 30 minutes from the border. A gas station in the city was supposed to have a Type 2 charging station and we were keen to test it out. Unfortunately, something must have gone wrong with the set-up of this charging point. Our Tesla was recognizing voltage, but as soon as it wanted to only charge at one ampere, the charging process turned itself down before it even started.
Luckily, the car was still charged at about 65%. That meant for us that charging in Batumi would have been nice, but not necessary to continue our journey. In the afternoon, we went through the long process of purchasing a car liability insurance (covering damages of up to 5000€ – I don’t know if that is even helpful). Georgia is the first country that our Swiss car insurance is not covering. The feeling of not having the backup of an insurance company is something we need to get used to. Before we started our journey, Benedikt and I calculated risks forth and back to decide whether we should get an insurance that would at least cover Iran and Russia (no insurance would cover our entire trip). This type of insurance would have cost about 3000€ and the deterrent fee would have been another 3000€. Since this insurance isn’t even covering thievery, it would only pay off in the case of a total-loss accident. We think and hope this will not happen!
After getting the insurance, we drove to Kobuleti, a town a little further down on the way towards Tbilisi. After a big 5-star hotel could not find one single three-phase outlet for us (they must have one somewhere), we ended up staying at a family hotel (a triple room and dinner for the three of us cost only about 30€). The Tesla charged over night with a Schuko (2 kW). The additional 25% in the battery were enough to make it easily the next day to Kutaisi and even further to Borjomi, where we were planning to go after a short visit to Kutaisi the next day.