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Showing posts from May, 2014

Return to Warsaw

My flight to Warsaw landed a bit late, at 7am. I flew through security and passport control and hopped the train to the city centre. Unlike my last layover in Warsaw, this time it was not cold and raining, but a beautiful, blue skied, sunny day. Due to this change in the weather i decided to re-walk the path from the train station up Nowy Swiat to and around the old city. Everything looked so much more beautitful in the sunshine, all of the churches and, narrow, decorative streets looked so much more colourful.

So i walked that route again, although a bit quicker than i did a week ago. I didn't venture inside any churches in the old city this time, but the streets themselves were so much more lively, with throngs of people walking, sightseeing, and lunching, buskers, and crowds and crowds of soldiers gathering and preparing for some event. The streets were lined with flags, as were the churches and public buildings. I don't know if it is a holiday or what, but the atmosphere w…

Marionettes & Vodka: the final day in Tbilisi

As i write this i am on a flight from Tbilisi to Warsaw, somewhere between the middle of the night and early the next morning. Yesterday/today was my final day in Georgia. There wasn't too much more in Tbilisi i wanted to do, but the top of my list for that day was a trip to Mtatsminda Park. Mtatsminda Park is or was a soviet era amusement park in top of a mountain overlooking Tbilisi. Apparently it was the third most popular amusement park in the soviet union. With am endorsement like that, how could i resist? (It has since been updated, although i believe some of the attractions are original.)
To reach the park the is a funicular a short but steep walk from Liberty Square. The funicular steeply and swiftly lifts you up the mountain, past a monastery, to the top. The views are excellent, looking out over the city and also looking up at the TV tower, which is, just that, a giant antenna like tower on top of the mountain, which at night is lit up with flashing orange lights. 

The amu…

Kazbegi: Tsminda Sameba Church

Yesterday morning i awoke in the bed at my home stay in Kazbegi. Lela had prepared a large breakfast, which i enjoyed until my car arrived to take me up the mountain. 
Kazbegi is dominated and famous for the Tsminda Sameba Church, which sits alone atop a mountain overlooking the town. This is not only the most famous image for Kazbegi, but really one of the most famous images for Georgia, that small church on top of a mountain, ringed by green valley and snowy peaks. 
There are two ways up the mountain to the church (which sits at 2200 meters): hike or drive. Originally, based on reading the guidebooks, i planned to hike, but then when i saw how bloody high it is and realized how muddy everything was from yesterday's rain, i opted for a car, a decision i ultimately felt good about. My driver, who spoke no english, picked me up in his old Lada Niva and we made our ascent. First we passed through a charming village of cottages, cows, and a couple small cemeteries, then we really began…

Kazbegi and the Georgian Military Highway

My plan all along was to do a trip to the Kazbegi region of Georgia. This is a high, mountainous region just south of the Russian border, accessible from Tbilisi only by the infamous Georgian Military Highway. Kazbegi (and it's main destination, the picturesque village of Stepantsminda) is stunning and the highway is known for being one of the world's more scenic and dangerous drives. 
You can take a marshrutka from Tbilisi for 10 lari (about $6) for the 3 hour drive, which is what i had planned go do, but then one of the guys from the hostel and i talked about hiring a car to take us there so we could stop and take photos along the way. He wanted to go up for the day and i planned to spend the night. This morning however he was sound asleep following what apparently was an all night Georgian supra (feast and marathon eating and drinking event filled with numerous toasts) but i still wanted to go and was rather taken with the idea of taking a car, so i went by myself with Nik…