When you get there, you’ll meet the Afghan at the telephone pole.
These instructions given to us in Mestia by the Svaneti Mountaineering Tourism Center left us baffled. Is our mountain guide a member of the Mujahideen who’d lost his way and made his home in the mountains of Georgia? After all, in Svaneti just about anything seems possible. Continue Reading »
As the first tourists to take advantage of the Svaneti Mountaineering Tourism Center (SMTC), we planned our arrival in the town of Mestia to coincide with the organization’s inaugural party. Because of our exceptionally long ride from Zugdidi to Mestia, we barely arrived in time for the opening speeches, including one which singled us out and unexpectedly turned the local crowd’s attention to us. Continue Reading »
Some cities seem to exist in two dimensions, best taken in with a camera from afar. Not Tbilisi. Its turbulent history is a veritable bullet list of invasions, destructions, occupations, and reconstructions. As a result, it tends to reveal itself in layers, both architecturally and culturally. Labyrinthine and tactile, Tbilisi invites visitors to dig into it like urban archaeologists intent on determining its composition and its narrative. Continue Reading »
The town of Akhaltsikhe itself doesn’t offer too much excitement for the visitor, but it serves as a jumping off point for Vardzia and Sapara. Continue Reading »
Many Georgians seem to sing the word Borjomi, THE Georgian mineral water and spa town, with a longing in their voices and a hands over their hearts. What we learned is that most people haven’t visited in 20 or 30 years…some things have changed since the time when Borjomi was one of the most famous spa towns in the Soviet Union, a place for the elite to drink the waters and recover from all the drinking, smoking and poor eating the rest of the year. Continue Reading »
I tell you, the Svanetians are crazy. Their brains are deficient in oxygen.
- A Tbilisi resident describing how the high altitudes of Svaneti have affected its people.
Svaneti, the high Caucasus mountain region in the northwestern corner of Georgia, has a long reputation of fierce independence characterized by the 12th century defensive towers that still dot many of its villages. More recently, Svaneti has been feared as outlaw territory where bandits and escaping terrorists from nearby Abkhazia, Chechnya and Ingushetia took refuge as locals holed up in their homes with guns at the ready. Continue Reading »
Once an Olympic site contender, the ski village of Bakuriani fell on tough times after collapse of the Soviet Union. A Georgian multi-millionaire is now attempting to reverse time by pouring cash into the improvement of skiing facilities and construction of new hotels and guest houses. Continue Reading »
Every inch of our map of Georgia seemed to covered with little icons marking churches, monasteries, ancient settlements, caves, mountains, towns, villages, and vineyards. We spent close to a month in Tbilisi, and here are a few of the nearby sights we experienced in that time. Continue Reading »