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…