I love to travel to undiscovered countries that are not overrun with tourists. My mother would say, “could you be like all normal children”? Colleagues commented: “You’re crazy, do you know where it is and how much you travel there?” And my boyfriend just pack up and leave, a man accustomed to me.
So it was this time when we are talking about Georgia and Armenia. Our people of the two countries are not very frequented and therefore no texts that can help me in preparing for the trip, but it’s even better, we’ll find ourselves.
We know that the two countries have many beautiful monasteries to visited, that are in the Caucasus region on the border between Asia and Europe (if geographically within Asia), that Armenia is the first country in the world that Christianity was declared the official religion and that both countries were part of the former SSSR.
Flight via Istanbul with a few hours of detention and we landed in Georgia they are known Saqartvelo.
Tbilisi or the city of St. George greets us. Early morning, the cold, middle of April. We are prepared to large fluctuations in temperature.
The city is mostly old and unsightly, gray, except for a few modern buildings in the center of town near the river that look as if they were “dropped from Mars.” In addition to their ultra fancy bridge, around a misery.
Most of the houses and buildings here look decrepit as it will bring down every time, but it just gives the town some extraordinary charm. The streets are empty just pass some locals, mostly grandparents who, holding stick , slowly waddling along on uneven cobbled streets. Tubes of gas are all over town, stretched like a spider’s.
In the tourist part of town below the ruins of the old fortress Narikala, which is located on a hill above the town, there are sulfur baths. Most of them were built on the model of the Persian aka Central Asian buildings, decorated with a mosaic of blue stone. Steam hisses from all sides until the climb to the fortress to look at the city from a height.
When you are in the city, you feel like that is a bit higher than the average small town. When you look at it from a height you realize how much the big city, where population of 1.5 million inhabitants. From the top you can see the drab apartment buildings from the time of the Soviets. Mother of Georgia Monument is located on a hill and in addition to being large and massive, it does not impress me much, but it is certainly one of the symbols of the city.
We descend down the stairs that are unequal in size, unsightly and slippery determined to try Georgian cuisine.
The restaurant, in which we enter is nice, is not why are not isolated and not striking, but the food is magical taste.
Khinkali, kačapuri and šašljik the most popular dishes here. Šašljik the grill, very large and long skewers of meat.
Kačapuri the dough in the shape of a boat and it flows into the sour cream, cheese and egg.
Khinkala test the bags in which they put minced meat with some gravy and look like gifts.
Eating a lot of eggplant and cheese, and wine for which this country is known are really top notch.
In the center of town, in the walking zone near the small restaurants and cafes for tourists, there is a beautiful puppet theater, unusual buildings. A clock tower. This is also the place of the shooting.
Churches are everywhere, wherever you turn. All were built of stone and externally very similar to one another. That day was a great Friday, and although I am not a believer in the evening we went to the church to attend the liturgy at midnight as a rule, attend a large number of people.
The next time you sit down in public transportation in your city, remember these images, and worse still a mountain.
We did not explore everything that we had planned here, and if we start in the morning by bus south to Armenia for a couple of days we’ll be back again in Georgia to investigate it fully.
It’s morning, the wind is still blowing, and we are approaching the Armenian border. The customs officers provide visas while waiting in line to cross the border, we enjoy the songs of a Georgian male choir that travels with us.
Armenia, a country with more immigrants than people who live in it. Diaspora scattered them all over the world, and although they say that the diaspora send money and renews the earth, it can be said only for the capital, Yerevan.
The road from Yerevan to Tbilisi has about 280 km, ride takes about five hours. At one point the driver get off the highway and drive across the grass because it is flatter and has less holes than the highway! Main roads do not exist, but there are no asphalt on it, but muddy dirt road. The scenes give the impression of heavy misery, as if you are someone teleported to the 19th century.
As I said, Yerevan is in contrast to the rest of the country beautiful, developed, clean and tidy city. Wide streets, greenery everywhere, in the central part of the city opera, the memorial park at the Cascades where artists exhibit their work from the top overlooking the entire city. The cult of flowers is still developed, and the streets are stalls selling the most beautiful roses .
Very interesting city, also known by the juice and pomegranate wines and excellent bench. We enjoyed on their market, lots of fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, homemade smoked meat like ham only with lots of pepper and garlic. A selection of cheeses is huge, and I liked the most tenili cheese, which looks like a thread.
It is made from cow’s milk with a high butterfat content. When sour stretched as noodles soup, and you can get involved in a braid. This way of making cheese was almost forgotten, but its production is still rebuilt.
From any part of Yerevan offers a magnificent view of Mount Ararat. Its highest peak is 5,165 meters above sea level. It does not belong to Armenia but in 1921 went to Turkey. It is in the south of Turkey and Armenia away from the 32 km and 16 km from Iran. According to legend, this is Noah’s ark. Armenians consider it a holy mountain and is located on their coat of arms.
In Yerevan the right spring, but because when we went to visit Lake Seven at 2000 m above sea level, we waited for the snow.
On the other side of the lake is a monastery Sevanavank, the most famous and most visited monastery in the region, located on the top of the hill on the lake peninsula. We visit the ski center, ski lifts and trails work, although the April snow is good if you’re a fan of winter sports, the recommendations.
At the foot of the mighty mountains of Ararat visit the monastery of Khor Virap who is closely associated with the acceptance of Christianity. In it, according to tradition, was detained saint Gregory the educator. We continue to the monastery Noravank from the XIII century. Next in line is a monastery located in an unreal environment in the deep canyon of red rocks. Riding 6 km long cable car to Tatev monastery complex, which is from the ninth century was the main educational center of the country. We also visited the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul.
We enjoying the warm weather in Yerevan and slowly pack up and go back to Tbilisi. This time by crossing the dark and the mountains. Every time we expect to say goodbye to life, as if the driver makes it chase, but thankfully somehow we arrive to Georgia.
Kakheti region in eastern Georgia, steppes and endless green expanse, we find the wild horses that allows us to take a snapshot, and then go to the border of Georgia and Azerbaijan, and visit the monastery complex David Garedža, also known as Angels in the desert. The complex was built in the sixth century and is carved into the rock. Although we did not plan decide to climb to the plateau above the monastery (the climb takes about an hour). Finally at the top and Azerbaijan … We enjoy the view of the desert plain.
Excellent view extends on both sides, we find walking on the Azerbaijani border guards chatting with us and reveal us more details about his country. Descend back and continue to the town Signagi, reminiscent of Italian cities. It is located on a hill which offers a view to the Caucasus and Russia.
After walking around town, visiting the winery, which this region is known we sat to lunch in the restaurant, falling Rights spring rain, and above us is born of debt. Lovely day spent.
The next morning we go to the north of the country at the foot of the Caucasus, on the north Georgia near the border with Russia, we go to the town and the village of Gergeti Stepantsminda. Do we pass the city surreal landscapes – highlands and mountains covered with eternal snow. At some point, high above the road will stop briefly in order to enjoy the unreal beautiful view. On the way snow and ice, it is very cold, the wind blows and we bypass kilometer long column of trucks waiting to cross the border. I counted to 200 and then stopped, poor drivers, who knows how long they have to wait until they cross the border. We arrive in Gergeti and jeeps climb to the church of the Holy Trinity at the foot of Kazbegi. The church is located at the top above the village and is surrounded by massive mountain ranges of the Caucasus still covered with snow. Jeeps are not up to the top and then move to hike, rest on the slopes of the mountain and enjoy the delightful view. It is nice in the winter and the view is fantastic, I can only imagine how it flies, but maybe some other time.
The biggest impression on me left a vast expanse, domestic, strong and delicious food and unspoiled nature, which the locals are friendly and smiling and friendly … The biggest impression on me left a vast expanse, domestic, strong and delicious food and unspoiled nature, which the locals are friendly and smiling and friendly … different people and nations, sometimes love, sometimes hate, just like we do in the Balkans, just maybe a little harder …
By: Ivana Kovačević