Georgia

Geographic Audience

I studied geography at university many aeons ago. It fascinates me to see where this blog is getting the most views. Unsurprisingly the top 3 are USA, Georgia (where I live) and UK (where I was born). But UAE at #7 and Russia at #8=, I find more surprising.

blog-views

blog views by country 2016

Thank you to all my viewers and followers, I hope you like what you see and look forward to any comments you might make.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

Earth

Earth, third planet from the Sun, our home. Earth is also the soil, where we grow our food. Here are some herbs and vegetables taken from th earth on sale in our local market.

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We share the Earth with many living organisms.

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In Tbilisi, a city of over a million people, there are many trees, the Patriarch Ilia II has supported programmes for students to plant trees.

A Trip to Khevsureti

Meeting up in Rustaveli

Meeting up in Rustaveli

Tbilisi is stiflingly hot in August, it seemed like a good time to head to the cooler mountainous regions of Georgia. This trip was taken over two days with “აბოდიალებულები” (which roughly translates as “the wanderers”) in a 4 x 4 Mitsubishi Delica driven by Dato. We met at the big bicycle sculpture at Rustaveli for an early 7am start.

Mitsubishi Delica...ideal for carrying 9 people on rough tracks

Mitsubishi Delica…ideal for carrying 9 people on rough tracks

Khevsureti is s a historical-ethnographic region in north eastern Georgia, to the north of the region is Chechnya, it is on the slopes of the great Caucasus mountain range. The architecture of Khevsureti is mostly highly fortified and defensive in character,featuring a profusion of towers clinging to the mountainsides,signifying constant vigilance in the face of enemy attack. The Khevsurs were renowned for their warfare with the (mostly Muslim) peoples of the Northern Caucasus including the Chechens, the Kists  and the many peoples of Dagestan.

Khevsureti

Khevsureti

Our first cultural stop en route is at Korsha to visit the Khevsureti Ethnographic Museum.

Khevsureti Ethnographical Museum

Khevsureti Ethnographical Museum

The museum holds two rooms of dusty artefacts, old musical instruments, Georgian costume, and some paintings, including a painting of Shatili which is where we were heading.

A picture of Shatili, where we are heading.

A picture of Shatili, where we are heading.

How do I look?

How do I look?

After the museum we went to Bear’s Cross, a high mountain pass, where we met some intrepid Polish cyclists from Wroclaw, who had managed to get a lift to the top of the mountain pass on a Kamaz truck.

Polish cyclist and Maka

Polish cyclist and Maka

Then we headed on to the Weeping Mountain.

Weeping Mountain

Weeping Mountain

group photo under the weeping mountain

group photo under the weeping mountain

Natural Minibus wash

Natural Minibus wash

The landscape of Khevsureti is breathtaking, mountains, rivers, flowers….

Khevsureti

Khevsureti

Mutso, almost completely abandoned more than a century ago, is a home to approximately 30 medieval fortified dwelling units arranged on vertical terraces above the Mutso-Ardoti gorge, four combat towers and ruins of several old structures and buildings. Difficult to access, the village retains original architecture, and is a popular destination for tourists and mountain trekkers. Listed, however, among the most endangered historic monuments of Georgia, a project of the rehabilitation of Mutso has been developed since 2004. We had the privilege of seeing workers restoring the towers using traditional materials. Our walk up to Mutso was preparation for our long walk on Sunday.

Walking up to Mutso

Walking up to Mutso

On the way up there were some creepy Anatori Crypts, medieval communal tombs with human bones still visible.

Anatori Crypts, medieval communal tombs with human bones still visible.

Anatori Crypts, medieval communal tombs with human bones still visible.

In times of plague infected villagers would voluntarily enter these tombs and wait for death.

Anatori Crypts, medieval communal tombs with human bones still visible.

Anatori Crypts, medieval communal tombs with human bones still visible.

Workers restoring Mutso

Workers restoring Mutso

After Mutso we had a look at Ardoti and got a bit lost, luckily Dato drove back to pick us up and take us to our guest house in Shatili. Before sleeping, we ate our ritual supra (Georgian feast), the Khinkhali was a little disappointing, but as with Georgian supras, we had far too much to eat.

Supra with Khinkhali in the guest house

Supra with Khinkhali in the guest house

The second day of our trip comprised of a morning wandering about Shatili and an afternoon, were we walked and walked for hours to reach a couple of lakes.

Full Georgian Breakfast means Khachapuri, a sort of cheese bread.

Shatili, I think of as a Georgian Macchu Picchu, not that I have ever visited Peru, and it may not be the best comparison. A partially abandonned city set in the mountains. Shatili’s old town, built between the 7th and 13th centuries, is a unique agglomeration of tall koshkebi (towers) clinging together on a rocky outcrop to form a single fortress-like whole.

Khachapuri

Khachapuri

Shatili : A Georgian Macchu Picchu?

Shatili : A Georgian Macchu Picchu?

The houses were abandonned between the sixties and the eighties.

Steps are good for group photos

Steps are good for group photos: say “Sulguni” (Georgian cheese)

Shatili from below.

Shatili from below.

After Shatili it was back in the  Delica headed for Lake Abudelauri and a very long walk.

Taking in some calories for the long walk ahead.

Taking in some calories for the long walk ahead.

From the village of Roshka to the first lake of the Abudelauri lakes (the green one) it took us three hours of uphill walking in hot sun, quite a challenge. I covered up as much as I could not wishing to get sunburnt, the strong Georgian sun had caught me out in previous summers.

covered up against strong Georgian sun

covered up against strong Georgian sun

Abudelauri Lake (green)

Abudelauri Lake (green)

taking a breather en route

taking a breather en route

The green lake was a little disappointing, the blue lake was very blue and the white lake we didn’t visit as it would mean a further one and a half hour walk.

Abudelauri Lake (Blue)

Abudelauri Lake (Blue)

We met our friend Damian and his hiking buddies at the lake, it can seem a small world at times. Our walking took from 1.30 pm to 8pm, that is a lot of walking for someone like me used to sitting at a computer, my legs are feeling the journey today (Monday). It was a good trip, but quite tiring. Khevsureti is magnificent.

Maka and Maia take a break on the walk back.

Maka and Maia take a break on the walk back.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close Up

This week’s challenge is entitled “Close Up” (click on the link to see other interpretations).  I notice many other bloggers have submitted stunning photos of bees, flowers, butterflies and dewdrops. I like to be different.

P1300117My image is a close up of a candle on the verge of dying. This was taken in an Orthodox Church, where candles are bought and lit and put in sand receptacles as prayers are said. The second image is to give some context to the first.

P1300116The symbolism of candles in the Orthodox Church is described in this blogpost: The Use of Candles in the Orthodox Church by John Sanidopoulos

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol

Symbol

Saint George links my past in England with my present in Georgia. The flag of England has one cross of St George, the flag of Georgia has five. St George is patron saint of both countries.

St George reflected

St George reflected

Georgian flags

Georgian flags

The “real” George may have been born in Palestine in about 270 AD, to a Roman father and a mother from Cappadocia, in what is now eastern Turkey. He served the army of the pagan Emperor Diocletian until the order came to persecute fellow Christians. George would not deny his faith, so he was tortured, buried in the sand and finally beheaded, in the town of Lydda on 23 April 303. Historians disagree about many of the facts.

George is a man with a complex heritage, born as cultures and empires were colliding. George is a foreigner to both England and Georgia, although he lived considerably nearer to Georgia and his mother came from Cappadocia like the other major Georgian Saint: Nino, who is said to have brought Christianity to Georgia.

St George in Islamic Culture

Saint George is somewhat of an exception among saints and legends, in that he is known and respected by Muslims as well as by Christians, his  stature in the Middle East derives from the fact that his figure has become somewhat of a composite character mixing elements from Biblical, Quranic and folkloric sources, at times being partially identified with Al-Khidr, a righteous servant of Allah, who  possessed great wisdom or mystic knowledge.  He is said to have killed a dragon near the sea in Beirut and at the beginning of the 20th century, Muslim women used to visit his shrine in the area to pray for him.

Image of ST George fighting the dragon.

Image of St George fighting the dragon.

“Advance our standards, set upon our foes Our ancient world of courage fair
St. George Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons
….. “Richard III. act v, sc.3

St George atop his steed in Liberty Square

St George atop his steed in Liberty Square