was a social network that was popular in the UK before Facebook. It allowed you to connect with people from your high school. It was mainly used by people who wanted to stalk old class mates that they used to fancy. After being bought by a large TV company for around $150 million it quickly went down the toilet when the dot com bubble burst. Facebook was preferred by many users because you could not only stalk people from school but also anyone that you may had ever met. The rest is history. None of this however, has got that much to do with what I am going to write about, although on this trip facebook, alongside things like WhatsApp and facetime allow us to keep in touch with friends and family. This is great and would not have been really possible 15 years ago when friends reunited still existed. It is of course not the same as seeing people in person.

One of the most common questions we get asked on this trip is what we miss about home. It’s been over a year now and both Frouke and I are still really enjoying the new experiences, scenery and food in each country that we visit, so we don’t really miss home, but we do miss people. We miss the people who mean the most to us, people who we can have “normal” conversations with. People who don’t need to ask our names or where we are from. We miss our friends and we miss our families. Don’t get me wrong, the best bit about our trip is meeting all the wonderful people in every country. It is just that we are never anywhere long enough to move past the “meeting” phase or the “getting to know you” phase.

Georgia is a wonderful country with wonderful people. It is relatively small but packs a huge punch. It has beautiful scenery in the form of mountains, lakes and forests. You can ski here in the winter and swim in the sea in the summer. You can go back in time while visiting small villages and ancient monasteries or party the night away in the capital city, Tbilisi. The food is varied and delicious and Georgia has plenty of wine.

Most people don’t know that Georgia is one of the oldest wine producing countries in the world. There is evidence of wine production from 8000 years ago. When we entered Georgia from Azerbaijan we directly entered the most famous wine region in Georgia. Everywhere we cycled we saw signs for vineyards and almost every house we cycled by had grapes growing in their front garden. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves at “Artanuli wine” vineyard. A vineyard that Frouke found on googlemaps and decided to contact purely because the picture they used was a picture of a barn door with graffiti all over it. It looked cool, a bit different from some of the more fancy, traditional vineyards that we had seen so far. Frouke sent them an email asking if we could come over and help out for a few days. We very quickly got a reply saying that they were in the middle of bottling their wine and would be happy for us to come over and help them.

The vineyard was owned and run by a father (Kakha) and daughter (Keti) combo. Kakha was a professional violinist but 15 years ago gave it up, along with his life in Tbilisi, to start a vineyard. Keti joined him a few years ago and together they have a lovely home and produce beautiful wine. We know this because over the course of the 5 days we were there I drank more wine than I’ve ever drunk in my life. This wasn’t just because of their generosity but actually because of a small disaster they were having. They had bottled some of the wines a little too early which meant that some of the wines were still fermenting and still producing C02. This meant some of the corks on the bottles were literally popping off the wine bottles at random moments. We were helping them to uncork bottles which looked like they could potentially pop, spilling their precious wine. It was a hazardous job. At one point I was in the cellar picking up bottles to be taken upstairs when about three bottles popped right in front of me covering me in red wine. About 10 minutes later Kakha was downstairs and I heard some popping and some bottles smashing. I went downstairs to see Kakha bent over, picking up a few bottles which had flown off their racks. He got up and turned around and looked me in the eye. He was covered in wine, including his face. He looked like he had just committed a double homicide and the look on his face suggested that he knew that he wasn’t going to get away with it.

The bottles that popped didn’t spill all of their wine, but you couldn’t do anything with the wine in those bottles so we had to drink it. Every cloud has a silver lining. We were both sad to leave and sad to say goodbye to Kakha and Keti. We’d had a memorable time with them and we were just getting to know them, but that’s how it goes on this trip.

A couple days later we found ourselves in a small town on a Friday night. Frouke wanted to rest but I wanted to check out the local party scene, so I went out to explore. Even though there wasn’t a party scene to speak of, three hours later (at around 2am) I came home completely drunk and woke up Frouke. She was momentarily shocked because I was carrying a large water melon in one arm and a large gala melon in the other arm. In my left hand was a kilo of homemade honey and in my right hand a bottle of local wine. Frouke laughed knowingly and went back to sleep. Georgia, like all of the countries we’ve been to is super friendly. Within minutes of entering a bar I’d made three friends who proceeded to pour me glass after glass of wine. By the end of the evening I’d been to two of their family houses (I was introduced to one of their mothers at 1am!) and been given all these gifts. We meet many friendly people but unfortunately we rarely get to see them again.

A few months before we started our cycle trip an Australian couple (Beau and Emma) came to stay at our house via Warmshowers (Couchsurfing for cyclists). We only spent 3 days with them but we clicked instantly. They were cycling from Sweden to Australia, we would be cycling from Vietnam to London, so we agreed that we’d try and meet somewhere in the middle. It’s funny but for the whole year, even though we only knew them for 3 days, we’ve been really looking forward to the idea of meeting them so we often checked up on where they were and where they were heading. For a while it seemed like we would not meet but with a bit of planning and a bit of luck we both arrived in Georgia (from opposite ends) at around the same time. We collided somewhere in the middle and picked up our friendship right where we left off more than a year ago. We spent a week cycling, camping and generally enjoying Georgia with them. It was great to spend time with people and not only have the “meeting/getting to know you” phase. That’s what we miss about being home.

Originally our trip was supposed to last for one year but it quickly became clear that to do it the way we wanted we’d have to take two years. After one year away, for a few different reasons we decided to fly home to London and Amsterdam for a couple of weeks. We were quite nervous about the trip. We hadn’t seen everyone for a whole year and we were going to try and cram everyone in, from two countries, in two(ish) weeks. We really wanted everything to go perfectly. Just like going on a hot date. Except with all your friends and family. So nothing like going on a hot date actually, but you get what I mean. It’s was absolutely brilliant. We saw almost everyone we wanted to see. It was so hectic I think we found it more tiring than cycling everyday, but it was absolutely worth it. Now that our trip has been extended to two years many people asked us if we would actually come home or if we would continue cycling for even longer. It’s an understandable question but we are both looking forward to being home next year. Although we are loving the experiences we are having on this trip we are looking forward to being with the people who mean the most to us. Everyday I think about how nice it will be once we are back. Everyday that goes by means that we are one day closer to being home. Every pedal stroke takes us closer to being reunited with our friends and family.