We were both delirious from hunger and in need of one last Georgian feed, however the streets around the train station proved fruitless… sensing defeat we hailed the first taxi we saw and as typical, Iiris negotiated the fare and we hopped in and away.
Instantly I knew we were in for good time when the driver used a cigarette lighter to illuminate the dashboard to see the speed as the dash lights were out. Thankfully or not, speed proved to be of little concern to our driver, as indeed to every other driver on the roads of the Georgian capital. I sit in the back seat, the music is up quite loud, it sounds like a drunken Georgian version of Joe Cocker at 3am after a big night out. I don’t mind the atmosphere but as Iiris feels her ears might be bleeding soon, she motions the driver to turn down the volume, to which he looks disappointed but complies
As we sped off down the road I started to realise this might possibly be the worst car I have ever driven in, the handling, the constant shake, it all added to the aural and visual joyride we were on. The driver seemed to cut corners to which I realised not to take the most efficient driving line but simply because the car could not turn any harder. Still it was ok, the cars in the oncoming lane swerved for us, it was very generous of them to do so I thought.
Down the road we pulled into a gas station for more fuel, a very typical thing to happen when in a cab and when we pulled up and stopped he took the key from the ignition and got out… only us to realise the engine was still running! It seems in this mans car, the key is completely optional to the running of the motor and the little slot where they key usually goes serves only has a handy holder for it! How considerate of the Ford Motor Company to include such a feature. After the shock of feeling the car still running our next realisation filled us with even more delight, our driver was filling the car with fuel, with the motor running, with us in it.. probably one of the most dangerous acts you can do but nothing phases our brave driver, he’s going to get us to the airport if it kills him, us and everyone with 2 blocks, what a guy! In a brief moment Iiris and I looked at each other with a look like "its been a nice holiday, hope everyone isn’t waiting up for us". Good thing however this driver can not afford a full tank of gas and before we know it the key is back in its rightful holder and we are off down the road.
The thing you soon learn about Georgian roads is how efficient they are with using space. Why have just 2 cars occupying 2 lanes of road, that would waste valuable space to either side of the car, indeed you would be surprised how fast 2 lanes can turn into 4 cars wide on the smallest section of tarmac. On the roads here the main rule seems to be, "fast cars overtake, slow cars get honked at", which holds universally true on all of the nations fine road system. I have noticed in my time the police seem to just drive the streets looking for someone to pick up, good thing for them, they usually don’t need to look far but still our driver displays a lack of fear which would put Evil Knivel to shame, onward we speed down the road to the flight out of here
As we hit the highway which leads to the airport the car starts to rise to the Tbilisi escape velocity which is no less than 130km her hour down this long straighish section of variable lane width. The car shakes a bit more and as the driver turns into one corner we hear a violent scraping sound, clearly the reason he was cutting corners earlier. As he changes up gears I catch him progressively turning up the radio volume with every shift, what a clever little guy I though to myself but again, this is Georgia and we didn’t sign up for a luxury ride, we signed up for something different, something educational, something exciting and something testing outside our comfort zone and we certainly got each one of those. As we approached warp speed down the highway with the airport becoming larger over the rise, Georgian Joe Cocker would seem to agree.