American Traveler impressed with Georgia
14 March, 2019
American Traveler impressed with Georgia
Nicole Heker is a traveler from the U.S. Nicole has been traveling for 4 years. She has visited Georgia and decided to share her impressions with the readers of Georgian Journal.

My name is Nicole Heker, I am 26 years old and am writing from Batumi, Georgia. I am from Princeton, New Jersey, in the USA. I am the Director of Development at a Nepali NGO called Happy Kids Center.

I have been traveling for almost 4 years now. I decided
to leave the States after university because of a curiosity I had for the world and a thirst for adventure. I traveled in many ways in these years, I’ve taught English in a few countries, backpacked, hitch-hiked, sailed, and motorbiked. All of them have been amazing, but when I heard the stories of two bicycle travelers, I was sold. I knew that it was going to be hard but it had everything that I love about travel, nature, autonomy, interaction with local cultures, freedom of the road, and challenges. In all of my travels, I try to listen to the stories being told to society and see how they compare to the stories told in mine. I want to unlearn all of the stories that have held me back in life, like the story that women shouldn’t travel alone or can’t be physically active like men.
So far, It has been one year since I started on March 8, 2018, the International Day of the Woman. I will continue maybe 6 months more until I reach Spain!
Georgia is my 10th country so far. But in total it will be around 23 countries by bicycle. 10 - Thailand, Laos, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia.

Everyone I met who has been to Georgia told me how amazing it is. “It is the perfect country to stay for a while,” People said. This is because of nature, the people, the food and of course the wine and chacha. It is also on the way, so it was an easy decision and I am SO happy that I stayed here for the winter!
I was staying in Tbilisi, which I really love. It is so artistic and creative and energetic. I also made some really lovely friends there. I have also visited Telavi, Gudauri, Kazbegi, Mtshketa, and Gori. On the bicycle, I went through smaller villages and towns in the countryside that showed me another side to Georgia. On the bike, I went through Kareli, Khashuri, Surami, Kharagauli, Zestaponi, Samtredia, Lanchkuti, Grigoleti, Shekvetili, Kobuleti and now Batumi. It is difficult to choose my favorite because each one has a different flavor. All of them were special!

Next, I will go to Turkey! I will spend about 2 months there, and then go through the Balkan countries, through Western Europe and end in Sevilla, Spain.

Yes! My bike was actually stolen in Tbilisi!! I was so upset when it happened but the Tbilisi police found it very quickly and brought the bike back to me! I was so surprised and very impressed with the Georgian police.
I started this journey on March 8, 2018, with about $3,500 in my bank account. By the time I got to Georgia in November, I had finished all of my money and thought that I would have to end my trip! But I found some jobs writing and am able to continue again. On this kind of a trip, you don’t spend much money. I camp almost every day, which is free. My transportation in my bike, which is free, and I cook all of my food by myself while I am camping which is very very cheap. The only times I really spend money is if my equipment breaks or if I am staying in a city and need to pay for a hostel and some nice cups of coffee haha!

You do not have to go on a big adventure to feel free and relaxed. Every day after work, every day before work and every weekend you have a choice of how to spend your time! Go hiking in the beautiful hills around Tbilisi! Get on a bike and ride to Batumi! Go skiing in Gudauri or camping in Khaketi. In Georgia, you are lucky, because anywhere you go can be a beautiful adventure, even if you have to work!
It was definitely deliberate that I started on that day. I am a woman of rituals and symbols haha. Starting on that day helped me feel strong not just for myself but for all the women overcame challenges before me and all of the women who are facing challenges now. It was a statement of "YES WE CAN!" We can break the stereotypes that women are weak, soft and well-behaved creatures. We can be that sure, but we can also be whatever we want to be. I want to cycle around the Northern Hemisphere, and I will!
The biggest challenge when I'm alone is men! No matter what country, if I see a group of men chatting on the side of the road I get nervous. Some make kissing faces at me, some whistle, some say "baby come here!" They think that I'm weak or that I am "easy" because I am a foreign girl alone. Usually, me yelling at them shuts them up.

Photo courtesy: Jeremy John Photography

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