Month: June 2015

Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse

Muse

The current challenge asks: “So what’s your muse β€” what subject do you turn to frequently, more inspired each time?” Strangely my inspiration comes from my daily journeys, commuting on the metro, descending the escalators of various metro stations. I like the symmetry, the sense of motion and the slightly naughty idea of taking photos in forbidden places. (In Tbilisi taking photos on the metro is forbidden).

Muse

Muse Today 26 June 2015

I find I have entered lots of photos of descending the metro escalators into these weekly photo challenges.

Descending deep into the Tbilisi Metro

Descending deep into the Tbilisi Metro

Metro Escalator

Metro Escalator

“Depth”
“Converge”
“Descent”

A cropped version of this is the background for my blog title.

converging lines...Metro escalator descent

converging lines…Metro escalator descent

Weekly Photo Challenge: ROY G BIV (ii)

I didn’t participate in last week’s photo challenge “Off Season”, the first I missed in a long while. To make up for it I’m putting in a second photo to this week’s challenge relating to the colours of the rainbow.

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.

I like to photograph the rainbow patterns made by oil on wet tarmac.

ROYGBIV the rainbow hues of oil on wet tarmac

ROYGBIV
the rainbow hues of oil on wet tarmac

Sometimes I might see an image in the pattern and play with the image in Mypaint.

rainbow bird

rainbow bird

ROY G. BIV

Weekly Photo Challenge: ROYGBIV

The crock of gold at the end of the rainbow…my wife in Paris πŸ™‚

Khato at the end of the rainbow

Khato at the end of the rainbow

ROY G. BIV

“Richard of York gave battle in vain” is how I remember the colours of the rainbow.

Visiting Paris had always been Khato’s dream, before we met the only time she’d been outside Georgia was to visit the Hermitage in Leningrad. I was happy to help her fulfil that dream. Paris is a wonderful destination for tourists and photographers, alike.

Tbilisi in the news: the Zoo floods and some animals escape

Tbilisi has been in the news today (14 June). Last night there was heavy rain, the river Vere burst its banks and flooded the zoo. Many animals were drowned and some escaped, some people have been killed too. We have been watching the news, one of the most viewed pictures is of a hippo in Heroes’ Square.

hippo

Hippo that escaped from flooded zoo in Tbilisi, Georgia. Image: Tinatin Kiguradze/Associated Press

We have been advised to stay in our homes while wild animals are still at large. The news has been picked up by all the major news agencies, reporting different numbers of casualties, but often using the same images picked up from Facebook and Twitter. Twitter is full of information, but it is difficult to know its verity. There is a hashtag

News of Tbilisi floods on RT

News of Tbilisi floods on aljazeera

It has been an odd day sitting at home watching the news, going a little stir crazy. The last time I watched an unfolding news story was the day of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, but that was many miles away in Paris, this is here in Tbilisi. Two bear cubs, I heard had been captured near the metro station I use every day. All I have seen of the story are the helicopters periodically flying overhead looking for escapees.

helicopter flying overhead

helicopter flying overhead

There had been talk of moving the zoo from the centre of the city to beside the Tbilisi Sea, a big reservoir, but it never materialised, maybe after this tragedy, they will do something.

The zoo before the flood was a rather sorry sight with poor facilities for the animals. Here is a photo, I took of the bear pit three years ago.

Bear pit, Tbilisi Zoo

Bear pit, Tbilisi Zoo

I am not a fan of zoos, keeping animals for our entertainment. A safari park is slightly better and may help preserve species hunted to the brink of extinction in the wild. I haven’t heard any news about the monkeys, this little fella didn’t seem too happy behind bars…

doing time

doing time

A Trip to Prometheus Cave and Kutaisi: Part Two: Bagrati Cathedral, Gelati Monastery and Motsameta Monastery

The two principal tourist draws for Georgia are its natural wonders like the caves and mountains and its old churches. Georgia boasts being the second country to convert to Christianity (Armenia was first), today most Georgians are Orthodox, despite the efforts of their most famous son (Stalin) to turn them to atheism.

group photo

group photo

This is the second part of my post about our trip to Kutaisi on 7 June 2015 and features some of Georgia’s most important religious monuments.

Kutaisi is Georgia’s second city, to many it seems just like a large village.

Our planned itinerary for the day was :

  1. Prometheus Cave (click on this link to see the first part of the blogpost)
  2. Sataplia Cave
  3. Bagrati Cathdedral
  4. Gelati Monastery
  5. Motsameta Monastery
  6. Restaurant for a Georgian Feast (Supra)

We had to cancel our planned visit to Sataplia Cave, because the site was overbooked by school parties, who were visiting the same day as us. Prometheus Cave is bigger but lacks the famous dinosaur footprints found at Sataplia Cave. Ah well, we will have something to see next time.

Bagrati Cathedral is one of the distinct landmarks of Kutaisi, an impressive building that was officially rebuilt in 2012 after heavy damage. The original Cathedral was built in the 11th Century. UNESCO was not impressed and considered the rebuilding damaged “the integrity and authenticity of the site”.

Bagrati Cathedral

Bagrati Cathedral

This is an image from the Wikipedia of Bagrati Cathedral under construction in 2009.

Bagrati Cathedral under construction in 2009. (from Wikipedia contributor:

Bagrati Cathedral under construction in 2009. (from Wikipedia contributor: “Kober”)

Inside Bagrati Cathedral

Inside Bagrati Cathedral

Georgian Cathedrals have a lot of interesting stone carvings on the walls.

stone carvings

stone carvings

After Bagrati we headed out of Kutaisi to Gelati Monastery. The Gelati monastic complex near Kutaisi contains the Church of the Virgin founded by the King of Georgia David the BuilderΒ  in 1106, and the 13th-century churches of St George and St Nicholas. Gelati Monastery was eulogised as the “New Athens” and the “Second Jerusalem”, and was one of the most important historical and cultural centres in the Middle Ages.

Gelati Monastery

Gelati Monastery

Gelati monastery, church of Virgin Mary the Blessed. Mural of Christ Pantokrator on ceiling of the central dome (12th century)

Gelati monastery, church of Virgin Mary the Blessed. Mural of Christ Pantokrator on ceiling of the central dome (12th century)

We visited the church at the time a wedding was being performed, a lot of weddings were scheduled for 7 June as it is the day before the fast for St Peter and St Paul, which lasts until mid July.

Wedding in the church

Wedding in the church

One of the main attractions for me, was an old GAZ M20 Pobeda in the grounds.

GAZ M20

GAZ M20 “Pobeda”

Maka liked the “Pobeda”, too. “Pobeda” means victory, Stalin preferred the name to “Rodina” meaning Motherland

“Pobeda” = Victory

Also there were plenty of birds to admire of the feathered kind, like these ravens.

ravens

ravens

A lot of construction work is ongoing at Gelati.

(re)construction

(re)construction

tiles

Our final sight was Little Motsameta Monastery, which sits on a spectacular clifftop promontory.

Little Motsameta Monastery sits on a spectacular clifftop promontory

Little Motsameta Monastery sits on a spectacular clifftop promontory

The monastery sits above a bend of the Tskhaltsitela River. The name “Red River” refers to an 8th century Arab massacre.

cliffs

cliffs

looks like we crashed another wedding...

looks like we crashed another wedding…

Brothers Davit and Konstantin Mkheidze were among the victims of the 8th Century Massacre.

Brothers Davit and Konstantin Mkheidze were among the victims of the 8th Century Massacre.

At the car park I find another delightful old Soviet car, a Zaporozhets 968M.

Zaporozhets 968M

Zaporozhets 968M

Finally in the tradition of these trips we ended with a Supra (Georgian Feast), we convened at the Old Imereti Restaurant in Kutaisi, where my batteries died. Maybe just as well with the dancing in the minibus on the way home to Tbilisi.

Old Imereti

Old Imereti

A Trip to Prometheus Cave and Kutaisi: Part One: Prometheus Cave

Inside Prometheus Cave

Inside Prometheus Cave, Tsakhaltubo

This is the third trip I have made with my wife, Khato’s lovely colleagues. (Previous trips: Davit Gareja and Vardzia Cave City)

Kutaisi was the furthest we’ve ventured with this group. We had planned to leave from Didube Bus Station in Tbilisi at 6am, usually we arrive on time and wait around for the others. This time they were waiting for us. It was going to be a long day.

Map of Georgia with Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Tsakhaltubo highlighted.

Map of Georgia with Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Tsakhaltubo highlighted.

There were fifteen of us and the minibus driver, Levan.

rest break en route

rest break en route

Sundays in June aren’t the best time to visit the Prometheus and Sataplia Caves, as there are several school excursions with the same idea. When we reached the Prometheus Cave Complex the car park was full of minibuses and we were told we would have to wait at least an hour before our group could enter the caves.

We hung around in the lush green vegetation around the caves taking photos of each other.

P1280335

The wait was worth it, the caves were incredible. The caves can be seen from a 1420m long walkway which goes throughΒ  17 “rooms”. You can only enter the caves in groups with a guide. The caves were only discovered in 1984 and are full of stalactites, stalagmites (the mites go up and the tights come down), curtains and petrified waterfalls. At the end of the walkway visitors can take a boat out of the caves.

The caves were fabulous, aided by clever lighting. (click on an image to see the gallery bigger)

Our planned itinerary for the day was :

  1. Prometheus Cave
  2. Satuplia Cave
  3. Bagrati Cathdedral
  4. Gelati Monastery
  5. Motsameta Monastery
  6. Restaurant for a Georgian Feast (Supra)

Because of high visitor numbers we had to cancel plans for Satuplia Cave, we were told they were fully booked until 6pm, so we proceeded to our third destination Bagrati Cathedral….which I will cover in the second part of this post…