Stuck in Tbilisi, I discover a green hostel

Some time ago, COVID blocked my plans to cycle from Iran to Pakistan. 
Now, after a long wait, I was about to get back to Iran to continue my trip.
It seems that all the elements came together to prevent me from getting into Iran.

My bicycle got stolen in Tehran.

Big protests just started in the Islamic Republic, making it unsafe to get there.

I need some extra care for a tooth.

Therefore, I need to stay longer in Georgia, and my budget for the trip is shrinking.

Even though I could never live in Iran, I do miss the Iranian people and their kindness.
Skipping the trip to Iran makes me feel almost like I am abandoning them in a difficult situation.
Being in Iran was almost like being in a family. Everyone cared so much about me that now I think I owe them at least some kindness back. 

Tbilisi by night

However, as it often occurs in difficult circumstances, good things happen subsequently. 

I get to know Rosik and Inna, the establishers of one of the greenest hostels in town. Actually, it seems to be the most sustainable hostel in Georgia. 
It made me think of my own projects in Italy and Belgium. 
They have tanks for rainwater collection, paper recycling, light sensors, recycled floor tiles, floor heating, and push-button taps. 

Rosik and his rainwater collection system

The building has also a isolated sandwich roof and walls with insulation panels, which makes it possible to have cool dorms without air conditioning.
With the additional help of an intelligent ventilation system with heat exchanger, it’s possible to cool down the temperature in summer and keep the warmth in winter.

Three water collection tanks and one insulated tank

In the high season, laundry is washed with rainwater, and this water is recycled again to be used for toilet flushes. 
While in the winter, the room temperature in the hostel is set to be a bit lower than the average, this saves a lot of energy without compromising comfort.
Rosik has even calculated the additional bodywarmth of the guests in the dorms in order to get the optimal temperature.

They have been awarded several times. 

Ventilation heat exchanger


In Georgia, it’s not easy to find many people concerned with the environment. 
Whenever you buy something, they give you bags, bags for the bags, and more bags; all made of plastic, of course.
You will often ‘meet’ again those bags, on any street in the country, and they will be there laying on the ground, waiting to be wrapped around an animal.
Garbage recycling is mostly for show: there are some ”scenic” recycling public bins in urban hubs, but real recycling is almost nonexistent. 

In Georgian heavy traffic, even though you can spot many hybrid cars, a huge number of uncatalyzed vehicles pollute Tbilisi’s air, creating a massive cloud of gas around the city. 
Luckily, it seems that the situation is improving

Rosik’s son and their paper recycling box

In Georgian winters, some people leave the tap water running to avoid having the water freeze. They could instead isolate the pipes for a couple of euros. 
Therefore, meeting people who are thinking green is not too easy here.
Rosik does most of his activities with his own hands, out of passion.
Water in Georgia is not expensive, but yet, he made a water collection system so that rainwater is reused. 

Double glass, rare in Georgia

Also for electricity, it seems that the bills are not too high here. However, in this hostel they care about saving energy anyway, with light sensors and energy-saving lights.
Rosik also told me that he has a project to have solar panels for water heating.
Which are, paradoxically, really hard to find in super sunny Georgia.

In Belgium, I made a terrace with recycled wood. Here in Tbilisi, Rosik did the same: a whole floor made of recycled tiles, and it looks terrific!

Pieces of recycled tiles
Stairs with the recycled tiles, work finished

The building has thick ceiling isolation and double-glazed windows. 
Even in planning the roof, there was already the thought of making it compatible with solar panels.
Therefore, unlike most roofs in Georgia, this roof is flat on top to accomodate the solar panels. Which he will even orient in different positions twice a year, when the sun has a different angle.

Most of the details about the hostel are arranged so that there is less use of energy or materials.

There is floor heating done by Rosik himself. He has even added an extra layer of concrete on top of the heating serpentines so that the heat stays for longer. 
This kind of heating is one of the most comfortable and ecological, because the temperature of the liquid in the serpentines does not need to be as hot as the one in radiators.

Thick isolation under roof

They organize also tours in the forests, where the participants can be in full contact with nature.

I joined one of the tours, the road was in the mountains of course, Rosik riding style is quite sportive, so you need to be for sure not too sensitive about car sickness.

However, you can experience wild nature and adventure with a skilled guide, so it’s for sure suggested for those who have never been in contact with nature.

Alessandro and his brother Michele.
It was the first time for Alessandro to camp in the wild.

Curious about where this hostel is? 

The hostel is called “Why Me Tbilisi“, in Georgia

They were so sweet!


So I have to alternate with hitchhiking.

My next adventure is to get to Istanbul from Tbilisi, which may seem an easy task if you think that Georgia and Turkey—which is now renamed as Türkiye by the way—are next to each other. 

But it’s not so easy! 

I wanted to use the train all the way. However, there is no continuous train connection. 

I will hitchhike from Tbilisi to Kars (Turkey), then take a train to Ankara, and finally, I will have the last train to Istanbul from there. 

The Turkish app to buy tickets does not seem to work; therefore, I will have to go first to the station and hope to be able to buy a ticket. Otherwise, the good old hitchhiking will work too.

Heading to the Turkish border

Are you also planning a trip in this region, have you been here, or have any questions about this journey?

Let me know in the comments!

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