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Pictures of our trip through Georgia – Part 1
- From June 4th until 13th, 2013 - Turkey Border Ajaria - Gori - Tbilisi - Kakheti - Azerbaijan Border
Turkey May 28 to June 4, 2013: Iran Border - Esendere - Hakkari - Van - Doğubayazıt - Kars - Ardahan - Hopa - Georgia Border
afterwards in the Caucasus:
Azerbaijan June 13 to 24, 2013: Georgia Border - Balakən - Şəki - Lahıç - Baku - Xınalıq - Quba - Laza - Baku - Gəncə - Georgia Border
Georgia Part 2a June 24 to July 2, 2013: Azerbaijan Border - Tbilisi - Armenia Border
Armenia Part 1 July 2 to 9, 2013: Georgia Border - Akhtala - Haghpat - Dilijan - Lake Sevan - Selim - Arates - Nagorno Karabakh
Nagorno-Karabakh July 9 to 17, 2013: Armenia - Stepanakert - Gandzasar - Martakert - Tigranakert - Tnjri - Shoushi - Armenia
Armenia Part 2 17 to 22, 2013: Nagorno Karabakh - Goris - Tatev - Noravank - Khor Virap - Echmiadzin - Geghard - Gyumri - Georgia
Georgia Part 2b July 22 to 31, 2013: Armenia Border - Ninotsminda - Tbilisi - Mtskheta - Kazbegi - Kutaisi - Zugdidi
Georgia Part 3a – July 31 to August 5, 2013 - Zugdidi - Swaneti - Zugdidi - Abkhazia Border
Abkhazia August 5 to 13, 2013: Georgia - Sukhumi - Tsebelda - Novyy Aton - Lake Ritsa - Gagra - Pitsunda - Georgia
Georgia Part 3b – August 13 to 15, 2013 - Abkhazia Border - Poti - Ferry to Ilyichevsk/Ukraine
Georgia Map
       Mid-East Map           Caucasus Map
latest picture: June 13, 2013
  • click a picture to see details

001  June 4th, 2013: From the border town
of Sarpi south of Batumi we look back to
Turkey where at the Black Sea a lonely
mosque “keeps watch”. Georgia practices
predominantly the Georgian Orthodox Church
002  The former building of the National
Bank of Georgia at the Europe Square in
the center of Batumi has now an
astronomical clock on its tower –
like in Prague and Venice
003  Futuristic buildings line the Seaside
Boulevard in Batumi, Georgia`s main
summer holiday town: Left to right: Hotel
Radisson-Blu; Batumi Tower Business
Center; Grand-Hotel Kempinski
004  The pebble beach of Batumi is
stretching 5 miles along the coast –
from the port to the airport
005  The Miracle Park of Batumi. Batumi
with a population of about 200’000 is the
capital of the province of Ajaria
006  On the way from Batumi to the
Goderdzi Pass is the confluence of the
Chorokhi and Adzhari Rivers. The former
originates in Turkey (Çoruh River – picture
#80), i.e. from the huge dam near Artvin
007  The Zvare Church northeast of the
village of Keda on the Batumi-Akhaltsikhe
“Highway” is active since 2003 and famous
for wedding ceremonies
008  "Yes, we are free from giddiness! (or
yet not that much)". The thin bridge arch of
the historic Dandalo Bridge on the Batumi-
Akhaltsikhe “Highway“ is 28 ft. above
water level. It is built of natural rock stones
009  The church of Khulo (Annunciation
Church?) is situated about 50 miles east
of Batumi along the bad main road to
Akhaltsikhe (Batumi-Khulo paved, after-
wards for 30 miles “nearly 4x4” condition)
010  Often there are special views across
the Adzhari River. The Batumi-Akhaltsikhe
“Highway” often follows the riverbed, here
on the northern side between Zvare and
011  There are not only stone bridges
but also suspension bridges that lead to
the south side of the Adzhari River. Here
between Khichauri and Shuakhevi
012  The Kaviani Fortress near Khichauri
is easily overlooked among the dense forest.
It is built of natural and cobble stones. The
walls are more than three feet thick
013  On our climb to the 6’644 ft. high
Goderdzi Pass we enjoy the view of
this wild blooming hydrangea
014  Farmers on the bridge of their pick-
up have no choice than swallowing dust.
The asphalt road towards the Goderdzi Pass
ends in Khulo. Then 4x4 is an advantage
015  Such a shiny Marsh Marigold
(Caltha palustris) "bouquet"
is always a motif for a picture. Here
on the road to the Goderdzi Pass
016  The partly dilapidated looking
clapboard houses in the hamlet of Goderdzi
are still inhabited – even in winter
017  We made it to the Goderdzi Pass on
an altitude of 6’644 ft. But the 4x4 part gave
us a hard time. Once we were on the brink to
tip over due to a precarious sloping condition
018  Does this house built entirely
of corrugated iron eventually mark a
new construction method in this
mountain region?
019  A corner shop in the village of
Goderdzi, obviously also a men's
gathering place
020  Is this just a "summer residence"
on the Goderdzi Pass? Looking at it
closer we cannot imagine that this
wooden house is suitable for winter
time on an altitude of over 9’000 ft.
021  Milk cans are rinsed, fence posts
tapered – rural life on Goderdzi Pass
is still like in the old days
022  We are starting the descent to the
east of Goderdzi Pass towards Akhaltsikhe.
Interestingly the scattered villages of the
western side stop abruptly, pine forests
become denser .....
023  ..... and flowers enjoy us more
often like here the lovely primroses
(Primula) on the roadside .....
024  ..... or this beautiful meadow
with flowering white daisies
025  We roll lonely through forests
and blooming meadows on the east side
of the Goderdzi Pass, which is in a
somewhat better shape
026  About 12 miles from the
Goderdzi Pass sits the imposing
Zarzma Monastery on a hill
027  The village of Skhvilisi, located
about 3 miles west of Akhaltsikhe on
the road to the Turkish border of Posof
028  The eye-catch of the town
of Akhaltsikhe, what in Georgian means
"New Castle", is the huge fortress lying
on a hill and dating from the 12th century
029  Behind the high walls of the fortress
with its many watchtowers beautiful
jewels of buildings are hiding
030  The view from the castle extends
to all directions as far as to the mountains
031  Inside the castle is a colonnaded
temple, a church and a mosque, a graceful
pavilion with a gushing fountain – everything
is surrounded by beautiful gardens
032  The dark thunderstorm clouds leave
the graceful pavilion in a magic light
033  Apocalyptic mood over the
Akhaltsikhe Castle. The golden
dome belongs to the mosque
034  The cathedral in the city center
of Akhaltsikhe is surrounded with
green patches and benches
035  Home-made tagliatelle in Akhaltsikhe
– not entirely made by hand like Liliana`s
mother still used to do it
036  The bread fresh from the clay
oven tastes lovely and costs
only $ 0.37/piece
037  The road from Akhaltsikhe to the
cave monastery of Vardzia follows the
scenic course of the upper Mtkvari river.
The landscape is very green, very
beautiful and very diverse
038  25 miles from Akhaltsikhe and
at the junction towards the cave city
of Vardzia stands the Khertvisi Fortress
from the 2nd century BC. The
present walls were built 1354
039  Another beautiful flower carpet
along the Mtkvari Rive lifts our spirit
040  The current archaeological site of
Vardzia was built as a fortress by King
Giorgi III in the 12th century. Under the
reign of his daughter, Queen Tamar, it
developed more and more to a
spiritual center .....
041  ..... cave dwellings were carved
from the rock, ranging over 13 floors.
There were 409 rooms, 13 churches
and 25 wine cellars .....
042  ..... today only one church is left,
the “Church of the Assumption“ with
lovely frescoes painted between 1184
and 1186. Here we shot a
remembrance picture
Vardzia is again a working monastery. Some cubicles are again inhabited by monks.
Circular stairs and dark tunnels lead through the “cave city”
046  Beetles feast on a white daisy
047  A Great Spotted Woodpecker
(Dendrocopos major) makes a break
and scans the environment
048  "Is there some food?" A seagull
appears at our breakfast spot opposite
the Vardzia cave monastery
049  The church belonging to a
working nunnery 1½ miles west of
Vardzia has some nice carvings. There
are fruit orchards and a trout farm
050  Near the Vardzia cave monastery,
the Mtkvari river snakes its way through
a narrow canyon .....
051  ..... the good road snakes its way
also through the valley. Roads in Georgia
that lead to tourist attractions are
generally well constructed
052  View to the monastery/castle complex
of Samtsevrisi and down to the Mtkvari
valley, in the background the village of
Agara – about 20 miles west of Gori
053  The St. George's church in
Samtsevrisi dates from the 7th century
and sits high on a hill west of Gori/south
of Agara with a commanding view .....
054  ..... the adjacent cemetery is special.
Each grave is surrounded by a decorative
metallic fence and the deceased are
honored with photos
055  Lined by trees, the Mtkvari River
meanders peacefully through its valley
between Akhaltsikhe and Borjomi
056  A beautiful combination of colors:
A yellow butterfly feeding on a pink thistle
(Onopordum acanthium). There is a
ladybug (Coccinella magnifica) on
the bud at the left side
057  The villagers of Samtsevrisi have
the luxury of having enough green space
around their homes and to live
surrounded by nature
058  Historic picture in the Stalin Museum
in Gori, built during the Soviet time, with
Winston Churchill (left), Franklin D. Roosevelt
(middle) und Joseph Stalin (right) during the
Yalta Conference in February 1945. Gori is
the birthplace of Stalin (12/18/1878)
059  Statue of Stalin in front of his
museum. The exhibition contains mostly
photos, news paper clips, documents
and historic moments, everything
explained in Russian
060  One exemption of all the historic
documents in the Stalin Museum in Gori
is his first office in the Kremlin. There’s
also a railway carriage outside that
Stalin always used when traveling
061  On a secondary road from Gori to
Tbilisi on the south side of the Mtkvari
River, the golden yellow forsythia flowers
are in full bloom. Their scent is wonderful
062  On a hilltop near the city of Mtskheta’s
greets the Jvari Monastery from the
6th century. It stands where King Mirian
erected a sacred wooden cross soon
after his conversion in the 4th century
063  Across the Mtkvari River greets
the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral from Mtskheta
dating from the 11th century. It is said that
Christ’s robe is buried underneath. It’s a
UNESCO World Heritage Site and is
located 12 miles northwest of Tbilisi
064  At Sagarejo, about 31 miles after
Tbilisi on the M5 direction Azerbaijan, is the
junction to the historic monastery site of
"David Gareja". We drive for another 28 miles
through a gorgeous untouched landscape .....
065  ..... with green undulated hills
and the salty Kopatidze lake
(left picture #064) .....
066  ..... and only interrupted by
the single village of Udabno
067  The otherwise lunar semi-desert
landscape that leads to the remote
"David Gareja" monastery site turns
lush green early summer .....
068  ..... and conjures up delicate
bell flowers .....
069  ..... and wonderfully colored
natural flower carpets
070  The Lavra Monastery of the
"David Gareja" site was founded by
David Gareja, a Syrian Father who returned
in the 6th century to spread Christianity. A
few caves are still inhabited by monks .....
071  ..... one of the monks is returning
from the monastery garden. Living in a
very remote area, they are self-contained
072  The color of the “David Gareja” site
coalesces with nature and spreads harmony
and peace. Once there were 15 monasteries
spread-out in this remoteness
073  From the stony track that leads
to the 2’880 ft. high hill ‘Udabno’, the
Lavra monastery of "David Gareja"
presents itself in a new picture .....
074  ..... Liliana makes a break
from the strenuous climb in a shady
corner of a rock cave .....
075  ..... while Emil is enjoying the
view from the boulders and poses
for a picture
076  From the top of the hill above the
"David Gareja" complex we are looking
down to Azerbaijani territory .....
077  ..... the Blue Rock-thrush
(Monticola solitarius) choose also
the highest spot .....
078  ..... the ridge of hills dividing Georgia
and Azerbaijan is rugged. In the far distance
the Tsitskhituri tower is visible
079  Lunchtime in pure nature at the
"David Gareja" monastery site: Salami,
bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese
and wine from Georgia
080  More beautiful than any flower
bouquet made by hand – presumably
a Great Masterwort (Astrantia major)
081  In the remoteness of "David Gareja"
we even discover a Greek
Tortoise/Spur-thighed Tortoise
(Testudo graeca)
082  During the short summer months,
nature shows its best side – Small Heath
(butterfly) (Coenonympha pamphilus)
083  Where is there a more beautiful
night camp than here at the "end of the
world"? There is not one light, not one
noise – just the two of us and nature
(at David Gareja)
084  Little things like a beautiful
butterfly enlighten our days: Southern
White Admiral (Limenitis reducta)
085  Rural life in Georgia is partly still
like in the old days. It awakens nostalgia
086  Emil is not smiling for nothing.
On his plate is one of his favorite
dishes: "Khachapuri", a Georgian cheese
pie. The beer stein also raises his spirit
087  On June 13th, 2013, our first leg
in Georgia is finished after 570 miles. At
Lagodekhi we drive towards the northern
of the two Azerbaijan border crossings
The "Greater"-Middle East trip 2012/13:
Sharjah/Dubai/1st Traveler's Festival/Emirates National Auto Museum - UAE with car Nov. 2012 to Jan. 2013 - part 1
Western UAE - Liwa - United Arab Emirates  with car in January 2013 - part 2
Oman 2013 - Part 1 - February 2013: Musandam Peninsula
Oman 2013 - Part 2 - February 2013: Sohar - Muscat - Rustaq - Nizwa
Oman 2013 - Part 3 - March 2013: Sur - East Coast - Island of Masirah - Dhofar
Oman 2013 - Part 4 - March 2013: Salalah & Surroundings (Dhofar) - Nizwa
Oman 2013 - Part 5 - March 2013: Western Hajar Mountains
Al Ain, Eastcoast & Ras al Khaima - United Arab Emirates with our car in April 2013 - part 3
Iran - Part 1: Ferry Port Bandar Abbas-Shiraz-Persepolis-Pasargad (between Persepolis and Yazd) May 2013
Iran - Part 2: Pasargad (excl.)-Yazd-Esfahan May 2013
Iran - Part 3: Esfahan (excl.)-Chelgerd-Hamadan-Sanandaj-Orumiyeh-Turkey Border May 2013
Turkey - Iran Border-Esendere-Hakkari-Van-Doğubayazıt-Kars-Ardahan-Hopa-Georgia Border May/June 2013
Azerbaijan: Georgia Border-Balakən-Şəki-Lahıç-Baku-Xınalıq-Quba-Laza-Baku-Gəncə-Georgia Border June 2013
Georgia - Part 2a: Azerbaijan Border-Tbilisi-Armenia Border June/July 2013
Armenia - Part 1: Georgia Border-Haghpat-Dilijan-Sevan-Tatev-Goris-Nagorno Karabakh July 2013
Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenia-Stepanakert-Gandzasar-Martakert-Tigranakert-Tnjri-Shoushi-Armenia July
Armenia - Part 2: Nagorno Karabakh-Goris-Tatev-Noravank-Khor Virap-Echmiadzin-Yerewan-Geghard-Gyumri-Georgia Border July 2013
Georgia - Part 2b: Armenia Border-Ninotsminda-Tbilisi-Mtskheta-Kazbegi-Kutaisi-Zugdidi July 2013
Georgia - Part 3a: Zugdidi-Swaneti-Zugdidi-Abkhazia Border – July/August 2013
Abkhazia: Georgia-Sukhumi-Tsebelda-Novyy Aton-Lake Ritsa-Gagra-Pitsunda-Georgia August 2013
Georgia - Part 3b: Abkhazia Border-Poti-Ferry to Ilyichevsk/Ukraine – August 2013