Monday, April 24, 2006

Travels in Georgia: Day 5

Day 5 was a day of extremes. We left Tbilisi after breakfast and headed out on the Georgian Military Highway. From regarding the GMH: This is the main road running for 220km from Tbilisi to Vadikavkaz in Russia. This route actually dates from before the 1st century BC and is still important as one of the only links to Russia through the Caucasus mountains.

This spectacular highway winds its way through towering mountains, climbing to above 2300m at the Krestovy pass. The treacherous hairpin bends and sheer drops were enough to strike terror in the hearts of many 19th century travelers and the route features in stories by Lermontov, Tolstoy and Alexander Dumas.

Heading north from Tbilisi one first reaches the medieval fortress of Ananauri, overlooking the Aragvi river and valley. Within the fortified walls are two beautiful churches. Further along the highway lies Gudauri, a modern ski resort based around the Austrian built 4 star Sport Hotel Gudauri.

Nearing the Russian border, one comes to the town of Kazbegi, overlooked by the monumental Mount Kazbegi (5033m), the highest peak in the Georgian Caucasus.The last point is the Daryal Gorge, where the road runs some kilometres on a narrow shelf beneath granite cliffs 1500m high. At the Southern entrance to the gorge are the ruins of Tamara's castle.

This little piggy is rooting around an old bus stop. On the way up is where we bought those funny hats.

Here we were at the top of the world. It was cold! We're just 30 miles away from the Russian border.

We took pictures on the way down too. Check out the waterfall in the background of this picture!

This is where we had a late lunch.

The interior of the restaurant.

The restroom!

We decided to eat outside. We ate in this covered area right on the creek.

I tried out the foot bridge!

At lunch I had a Georgian drink - Tarragon soda! It's yucky.

We had more hinkali. It was the best meal we had the whole time we were in Georgia! Tasty!

As you can see, everyone like the food!

We also ordered grilled meat - which was prepared outside.

We had to stop for a Georgian traffic jam - 4 cows walking down the middle of the highway.

We did some sightseeing at another church.

I poked around inside the tower.

That evening we all hit the hot sulfur baths in Tbilisi. The name Tbilisi derives from the Old Georgian word "Tpili", meaning warm. The name Tbili or Tbilisi ("warm location") therefore was given to the city because of the area's numerous sulfuric hot springs that came out of the ground. Pushkin thought these baths (the blue tiled building in the photo) were the best.

They stink, but it feels great!

After our relaxing baths, we were ready to tour a little more at night. This is the parliament building in Tbilisi. There are dramatic fountains in front that give a great show!

The TV tower that I wrote about here is all illuminated (above and behind the white building) with sparkling lights at night - like the Eiffel Tower!

Read about Days 1 and 2
Read about Day 3
Read about Day 4


At 4/25/2006 3:21 AM, Blogger Matt Erlandsen said...

Hey John, sounds like you really had a once-in-this-life experience!, I'd like to try it too... nice telling and nice trip.


At 4/25/2006 12:19 PM, Anonymous Kari said...

The landscape is beautiful... there... I think you should share your pics in a book! You have a lot of amazing shots, that really bring to life a place many don't even know exist.

At 4/25/2006 7:38 PM, Blogger Sam said...

What a trip! Thanks for sharing it so well!

At 4/26/2006 12:23 PM, Blogger RR said...

Loved those pics!

But that "restroom"...I think I would have held it in. Forever.


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