Tulips in Istanbul

20110428-134240.jpg

20110428-134256.jpg

20110428-134249.jpg

20110428-134227.jpg

Advertisements

The Obligatory Photos of Hagia Sophia

20110428-132918.jpg

20110428-133039.jpg

20110428-133029.jpg

Bye Bye Georgia

On the 25th April we departed Georgia for Istanbul.
20110428-132244.jpg

Day 2 in Kazbegi

Better weather so we decided to walk up to the monastery. The walk took an hour and a half. It was steep, cold and the air was thin. We trudged through last night’s snow. The summit was worth the pain. Those who drove up instead of walking risked getting bogged in the mud. The monastery was small. Centuries of graffiti were etched in the stone walls. Inside UNESCO had helped the monks uncover a 14th century mural of Jesus from beneath several coats of paint. It started to snow again. Some Israelis, once unbogged, kindly let us hitch a lift back down the hill. We caught the 5pm bus back to Tbilisi and finally saw the views we missed the first time.

20110428-112837.jpg

20110428-112905.jpg

20110428-112953.jpg

20110428-113043.jpg

20110428-113159.jpg

20110428-113231.jpg

20110428-113454.jpg

20110428-123509.jpg

20110428-123808.jpg

20110428-124709.jpg

20110428-124011.jpg

20110428-124022.jpg

Day 1 in Kazbegi

Bus from Didube Metro Station to Kazbegi for 10 lari. The weather rolled in and it started to snow. Visibility was less than 50m. The windows fogged up. We went over a mountain pass. The roads were narrow. Beyond the road’s wooden palings were steep drops to the gorges below. We bumped along. The fences were replaced by head-height snow drifts. Two and a half hours after leaving Tbilisi we descended into Kazbegi (Stephansminda). Kazbegi is known for its skiing, its icecapped volcano and a 14th century monastery. It is home to an alpine ecology research institute. It is also right near the Russian border. We stayed at a guesthouse run by an old friendly lady. There was a picture of Stalin on the wall and a Russian army coat with polished buttons. There were no cafes or restaurants open because it was out of tourist season. A neighbour cooked us soups and stews with fried potatoes, fresh bread and cheese in a small room heated by a stove. Spanish tele-novellas dubbed in Georgian played constantly on the television. Outside chickens of Easter Show prize-winning standards scratched in the mud, dogs and cats bolted at the first sign of human movement and unpolled cattle roamed in the streets.

20110428-104311.jpg

20110428-104348.jpg

20110428-104804.jpg

20110428-104504.jpg

20110428-104603.jpg

20110428-104744.jpg

20110428-104814.jpg

Visiting the Dmanisi Archaeological Site

Some of the earliest hominid remains outside of Africa have been found at the archaeological site of Dmanisi. The remains have been dated to 1.8 million years ago. Several of the skulls are typically on display at the Georgain National Museum. The museum was unfortunately closed for renovations. I was determined to at least see the site. The site, as it turned out, was closed until the peak tourist season (beginning in May) and guarded by three policeman sitting around doing nothing. If not for a friendly Georgian man named Vassily, a friendly man and his carload of small children, a friendly dog, an amazing landscape, an old church, medieval ruins, engraved stone sheep and an open excavation our trip to Dmanisi might have been a complete waste of time…

Travelling to Dmanisi from Tbilisi - metro from Rustaveli to Sangori/Samgori. Exit Sangori station to the right and walk to the far end of the car park. First bus leaves at 9 (or earlier if full). 6 lari.


After roughly 1.5 hours on the bus, we passed an intersection with a Dmanisi billboard and a Dmanisi sign (16km) pointing to the right. The bus driver told us to get off but the locals decided this was not the best place. We got back on the bus and drove another 2km or so up hill passed a small village. Near the peak of the hill, as the building density thinned into farmland, we got out woth Vassilli who guided us along a path on the left side of the road through the farms to a ridge line.


Walking along the ridgeline...


20110424-153010.jpg

Vassilli then led us down a path to the road below. We kept walking towards the bridge in front of the arse-end of the Dmanisi promenatory. A car came by. Vassily stopped it and ushered us in. Five small children squished together to fit us three adults in. A kilometre later we were at the entrance to The Dmanisi archaeological site.


20110421-184033.jpg

20110424-171836.jpg

20110421-184431.jpg

20110424-164821.jpg

20110424-165806.jpg

20110424-165824.jpg

20110424-170033.jpg

20110424-170122.jpg

20110424-170154.jpg

20110424-170348.jpg

20110424-170438.jpg

20110424-170511.jpg

20110424-170450.jpg

20110424-170501.jpg

20110424-170520.jpg

20110424-170527.jpg

20110424-170544.jpg

20110424-170557.jpg

20110424-170922.jpg

Walking back towards the bridge.

20110424-171003.jpg

More photos (including excavation photos) at Flickr

Overview of the history of Dmanisi

More info on the importance of the Dmanisi fossils.

For a summary of the geology, history of excavations and maps of the site see Chapter 3 of Adam Van Arsdale’s thesis

An Afternoon at Narikala Fortress

20110421-152815.jpg

20110421-152832.jpg

20110421-152857.jpg

20110421-153015.jpg

20110421-153023.jpg

20110421-153150.jpg

20110421-154013.jpg 20110421-153442.jpg

20110421-153706.jpg