When Georgians and Beer Mix

When you toast someone or something in Georgia with a beer, it's more like a curse than a traditional toast for good health and prosperity.I wonder, How many Georgians are drinking beers and clinking to Russia, Putin, and Medvedev right now? … [Read more...]

This Land Is Not Your Land

Caucasus Map

Before this journey, our experience with the disputed regions in the Caucasus - Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh - amounted to a few news articles and flashpoint body-count news tickers drifting across the bottom of our television screens.Something bad had happened, people had died, but we never truly appreciated or understood the details. … [Read more...]

Blue Eyes, Gold Teeth: The Fabled Land of the Svans

High Caucasus Mountains in Svaneti, Georgia

When you get there, you'll meet the Afghan at the telephone pole.These instructions given to us in Mestia by the Svaneti Mountaineering Tourism Center left us baffled. Is our mountain guide a member of the Mujahideen who’d lost his way and made his home in the mountains of Georgia? After all, in Svaneti just about anything seems possible. … [Read more...]

Svaneti, A Mountain Inauguration

A Song of Ages

As the first tourists to take advantage of the Svaneti Mountaineering Tourism Center (SMTC), we planned our arrival in the town of Mestia to coincide with the organization's inaugural party. Because of our exceptionally long ride from Zugdidi to Mestia, we barely arrived in time for the opening speeches, including one which singled us out and unexpectedly turned the … [Read more...]

Tbilisi, Georgia: A Scavenger Hunt

View of Sioni Cathedral and Narikala

Some cities seem to exist in two dimensions, best taken in with a camera from afar. Not Tbilisi. Its turbulent history is a veritable bullet list of invasions, destructions, occupations, and reconstructions. As a result, it tends to reveal itself in layers, both architecturally and culturally. Labyrinthine and tactile, Tbilisi invites visitors to dig into it like … [Read more...]

Borjomi, Georgia – Highlights, Transport and Accommodation

georgia flowers

Many Georgians seem to sing the word Borjomi, THE Georgian mineral water and spa town, with a longing in their voices and a hands over their hearts. What we learned is that most people haven't visited in 20 or 30 years...some things have changed since the time when Borjomi was one of the most famous spa towns in the Soviet Union, a place for the elite to drink the … [Read more...]

Visual Tour of the Caucasus

History Lesson

Between embassy queues for visas, we've been taking advantage of Tashkent's surprising supply of wifi and internet cafes.As a result, we finally have some photos to show from Armenia and Azerbaijan, thereby completing our visual tour of the Caucasus. … [Read more...]

Svaneti: Why and How To Go

As the Clouds Lifted...

I tell you, the Svanetians are crazy. Their brains are deficient in oxygen. - A Tbilisi resident describing how the high altitudes of Svaneti have affected its people.Svaneti, the high Caucasus mountain region in the northwestern corner of Georgia, has a long reputation of fierce independence characterized by the 12th century defensive towers that still dot many … [Read more...]