Category Archives: Georgia

Heading West and By the Numbers

A four hour train ride took us from Pamplona to Madrid.  We got lost in the mesmerizing landscape grinning every time a small village with white stone buildings entered the scene.  Lush were the hillsides and fields of agriculture.

We walked by the Atocha Station a couple of times while in Madrid but discovered a lush garden inside after departing the train.It was an easy listless day – train and then a taxi to the hotel near the airport for our flight back to the USA the following morning.

It was an eight and a half hour flight to Newark where we were to have a quick layover and be one our way to Charlotte.  Upon landing lightening crashed in around us and the plane stood still on the tarmac as the airport closed.  An omen.  A half hour later the plane was cleared to head to the gate.

Unbeknownst to us the airline industry and particularly United was in melt down mode.  It was utter chaos. Cancelled flights and stranded people.  Our connecting flight to Charlotte a victim.

It was 5:00 pm.  A United agent told us it would be days before any  seats would be available. “Check online.” The internet confirmed the worst.

We had places to be!  The following day was our grandson’s first birthday and our son had taken time off of work – we didn’t have days…. who has days???

Quick change of plans – we rented a car and headed to Charlotte driving until dark.  It was 1:30 am Madrid time by the time we stopped for the night somewhere in Maryland.

We arrived at our destination 21 hours late but in time to celebrate.

We visited family, broke bread, raced cars and played with our grand babies. 

United continued its melt down and we feared we’d not make it home to Nevada as scheduled.  It all worked out – both flights harmoniously were delayed and we made it home.Now we shift through months of mail, dust off the house and get ready for summer.  We head out again in 8 days.

Our trip by the numbers:

13 flights, 1 cruise ship, a few boat rides, multiple trains, lots of car rides,  one tram – 34 beds and 18 Countries: South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, French Comoros, Seychelles, Omán, EAU, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Spain.

I wore everything that I packed, left one shirt (on purpose) and threw out 2 that I ruined.  I way overpacked even though we just had carry on.  Another lesson learned (again).  Way less is even more!

Thanks for following along!


The Country of Georgia

Back to Armenia for a second (Bill is chiming in).  We flew over Iran nearly the entire trip from Dubai to Armenia.  I don’t think U.S. carriers do.  Along the way we had a magnificent view of Mt. Ararat.  If you see that speck in Paige’s photo it might be Noah’s Ark.

Now to Georgia – at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia (Caucasus region) bordering the Black Sea, Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The capital of Tbilisi is yet again a city reminiscent of Europe, conceivably a bit fancier than Yerevan.

*click on photos to enlarge

The city’s name is derived from the Georgian word “tbili,” meaning warm, perhaps a nod to their famous sulfur baths founded in the 5th century.

On the banks of the Kura River which divides the city, cliffs and hills overlook the tall sycamore trees that line the streets. Tiny alleyways are filled with quaint al fresco restaurants uniquely decorated.

Old books are displayed on any flat surface waiting to be purchased by the non-digital reader.

Underground passageways allow people to cross the street safely, avoid inclement weather and shop at the same time.  They’re brilliant!

The food might be our favorite so far – rich, creamy, spicy, garlicky and delicious.  Like French bread is to France – Shoti bread is to Georgia.   Tasty and soft in the middle with crispy edges, moon shaped and made in tandoor ovens.

The dinner crowd steps out late like in Spain but unlike Spain dining is available all day.

Our guide said it’s the world’s oldest makers of wine but the internet and maybe the discovery of the winery in the Armenian cave might challenge that.  However, UNESCO added their ancient and traditional winemaking method, using the Kvevri clay pots (stored in the ground) to their Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2013.

Left-over grapes are used to make cha-cha, a clear grappa type drink that tastes like gasoline.  Wine and cha-cha are sold everywhere from fancy stores to tiny homemade kiosks.

The under 30 crowd looked like a throw back from Berlin some 30 years ago wearing funky black clothes and Doc Marten’s.

Smoking must be a National pastime as everyone seemed  to have a cigarette dangling off the edge of their lips or pressed between their fingers.

Feral dogs are tagged to show they have been sterilized.  Seems a humane way to address the dog problem.

The tiny walled city of Sighnaghi is a must see.  Reminiscent of Italy with stone terra-cotta roofed buildings dating back to the 17th century lining narrow windy streets.  The Alazani valley and Caucasus mountain views are stunning.  This is a Silk Road stop, with the 4th century Bodbe  Convent (church), walled city and caravansarie overlooking the valley below, the Caucasus mountains and Russia in the distance.

Miscellaneous from Tbilisi and beyond…