Our Georgian Adventure



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Day 1: Sunday, August 21


Rijks Museum
Van Gogh Museum

We began our day too early in Amsterdam and witnessed a city with a hangover. It was 7:00 am on Sunday morning and I am certain that the last revelers had just left the streets a few hours before we arrived. The city was a mess and had an awful smell of the byproducts of too much fun.
We ended up spending a lot of the day alternating between sleeping in cafes and walking around the city. The highlight was certainly the Van Gogh Museum.
Pictures will be added later.

Day 2: Monday, August 22

Arrive in Tbilisi
Mtskheta (old capital)

The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

We arrived at 2:00 am and discovered, as we were getting off the plane that we had the Georgian FIrst Lady on our plane with us. We went to Andrea and Kakha's place and immediately crashed as we were exhausted.
The next morning we awoke and made our way out to Mskheta where we saw the Jori Monastery and the Svetitskhvoli Cathedral with Andrea. It was a beautiful day.
We then returned to Tbilisi and met up with Kakha and had a wonderful Supra (formal Dinner) at a beautiful restaurant by the river.

Day 3: Tuesday, August 23

Tour Tbilisi

Tbilisi (Wikipedia)

Tbilisi, it has turned out to be a much more beautiful city than I had imagined. Snuggled between a hillside and a river, it clearly displays architecture from several different periods over the past two hundred years.
We had a tour today by a Architural Historian and learned much of the changes that the city had been through. From Persian influences, to Czarist architecture, periods of Soviet influence distinct under Stalin and Kruschev, and now post Soviet periods.
The city has been through a lot, even just in the last fifteen years. There seems to be a real mix of hope for the future and a mix of pride and depression about the past.

Day 4: Wednesday, August 24


On Wednesday, we drove out to Kakheti and met Kakha's family.
They had prepared a meal for us to take on picnic, and we took a short hike up to an old church and fortress on the top of a hill. Kakha's cousin Sura accompanied us and cooked Shashlik (Grilled Meats) for us. We ate in a meadow and then went down by the river that runs through that area.

Day 5: Thursday, August 25

Gori & Uplitsikhe

Gori: Birthplace of Stalin
Uplistsikhe - Ancient City

This was an odd trip. We went out to visit the ancient cave city of Uplisitkhe which was carved into caves in sandstone. These caves have been around since the 16th century bc and were one of the earliest settlements in this area. Unfortunately a good deal of the area has been destroyed by earthquakes and invaderes, but it is still a sight to see.
The tour of the Stalin museum is a very interesting trip. The museum works to maintain a sincere revery for Stalin. You see all the gifts that were given to him by other countries and images of him from his youth.

Day 6: Friday, August 26



Friday we ended up just spending the day wandering through the museums of Tbilisi. We went to a Traditional Georgian Dance show which was very interesting.

Day 7: Saturday, August 27

David Gareja Monastery

The David Gareja Monastery was really fascinating. We drove down a rocky rode that took about 2 hours and arrived in a totally different terrain. This desert outcropping is the first geographic divide between the lands of Azerbasian and historic Persia. This monastery has served as the Easternmost outpost of Christianity for much of its history. It began in the 6th Century AD with a Monk who went to live in reflection in a sandstone cave in this area. Soon many of his followers had come and the area had been expanded into a monastery built out of a series of sandstone caves
We hiked up the side of the cliff and at the top had an extraordinary view of Azerbaijan and were able to walk into the caves that had been carved into these rocks hundreds of years ago.

Day 8: Sunday, August 28

Day Off - Relax in Tblisi

Tbilisi Market

We were pretty exhausted from all of our travelling by this point, so we took the day off and just hung out in Tbilisi. This turned out to be one of our favorite highlights of the trip as we went to the open air market. This two story marketplace has a variety of goods including produce, cheeses, meats, dried foods, kitchen ware.
We bought several spices that we couldn't find in the states and some hanging peppers and Marigolds. While at the market we decided we would make dinner at home for the first time. We ended up buying enough produce and other foods for our own Georgian Feast at home. People seemed to enjoy the fact that I was a tourist and started asking me to take their photos. It was a lot of fun.

Day 9: Monday, August 29

Georgian Military Highway to Kazbegi

Georgian Military Highway

This is the road north that runs from Tbilisi into Russia. It was really astounding to see such a dramatically different climate and terrain from our trip south towards Azerbaijan. Georgia seems to have at least three distinctly different geographic/climate regions all within a space of 100 miles. We stopped off at an old Church in Ananuri and then went on to Kazbegi and the Russian Border (which only Russians can pass through.)
We took our own little adventure walking through the town trying to find this old ecostation that sells hiking maps of the region. It was very similar to any mountain town that we would have seen in Spain. The dinner at this hotel was fantastic, and our driver, Morris, was a wonderful representative of Georgian friendliness.

Day 10: Tuesday, August 30

Hike Mt, Kazbegi

Poor Morris, the driver had to be dragged with us on a hike into the hills below Mt. Kazbegi. This beautiful, green area is really astounding, as the clouds swoop in to cover the mountaintop early in the morning. As we began our trek, we bumped into a cousin of Morris's who let us park in his driveway. Early in our hike, we came upon a group of Georgian men celebrating the day with bread, cheese and homemade wine, in which they desired us to take part. After making the summit, we were accompanied on our way down by a friendly pup who reminded us of our dear Shakobe. When we finally made it back down, we were suprised to find that Morriss's cousin had prepared a Georgian Supra for us (with at least seven dishes). We ate and drank and attempted to communicate our joy with the family. JB was able to say "This is one of my favorite dishes", which seemed to please them. More the effort to speak Georgian than the compliment itself. The generosity and hospitality of this Georgian family, and Georgians in general is one of the memories we take away with us from our trip.

Day 11: Wednesday, August 31

Come Home Through Amsterdam

Flower Market

Too tired to do any updating today. Just walked around Amsterdam and did some last minute cheese and tulip shopping, and sleeping in coffee shops.
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