On Saturday after work Lika and I went to see “Swan Lake” at the Tbilisi Opera House. I had not been in the Opera House for almost a decade. It’s been closed for 8 years for renovation. It was stunning, much brighter than I remember, with the chandeliers and the stained glass windows cleaned and the colors renewed. There are “portholes” that when you look … Continue reading Tbilisi’s Restored Opera House.
Thursday, after I finished my work at Radio Nor, we drove back to Tbilisi. Ararat told us that the more roundabout road, over a higher mountain pass above the trees, was better maintained than the road we came in on. The shorter driving time gave us some time to get out and wander a little at Phoka and the alpine lakes Saghomo and Paravani, sitting … Continue reading Saghomo and Paravani Lakes and Phoka’s Churches.
Ninotsminda was founded by Russian Doukhobor dissidents. The Doukhobors (Spirit Warriors of Christ) were exiled to this region in the early 1800s by Tsar Nicholas at his ascension because they refused to recognize the divine authority of the Tsar. They also refused military service. With the financial help of Leo Tolstoy and North American Quakers most of them immigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1900, later … Continue reading Gorelovka and the Doukhobors
IREX has taken on a new partner, Radio Nor, a community radio station, in Ninotsminda. Ninotsminda is located near the spot where Georgia, Armenia and Turkey meet. The Lonely Planet guide mostly ignores this part of Georgia. There isn’t much tourist infrastructure. We drove south from the mineral water center of Borjomi past several 12th century castles and terraced fields running up mountains to Akhalkalaki. … Continue reading Ninotsminda, Georgia
I love going someplace I know well, discovering something new and rediscovering something old. I had both experiences on this trip to Georgia. I arrived on Saturday morning and met my colleague and friend Lika for dinner Saturday night. We walked through the old town, to a newly opened up area behind the Turkish baths. The area had been behind barricades for years as paths … Continue reading Tbilisi 2016
I’ve been home in Sitka two weeks now, writing reports, enjoying the Sitka Summer Music Festival and thinking of my recent trip to Tbilisi, Georgia. It was a shorter trip than usual, which was a good thing because if I had stayed my normal two weeks I would have been caught in the flood and probably had to fend off lions and hippos on my … Continue reading Iron Butterfly, June in the Republic of Georgia
My friends at Radio Atinati in Zugdidi, Georgia have their station across the street from an old Soviet mural made of iron. It shows the progress of transportation from winged Mercury to Space flight, with cars, trains, horse carriages, carrier pigeons and hot air balloons in between. But they thought the Soviets were missing one item, a bike. So they did two things. They created … Continue reading Updating Art to add a Bicycle.
These are pictures taken on the back roads from Tbilisi to Gori and back in April with the spring blossoms just coming out and green buds just beginning to tip the limbs of trees and bushes. The last picture is a housing development for internally displaced people (IDPs, or refugees) from the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008. The three before that … Continue reading Georgia Road Trip, April 2014
Uplistsikhe was a town on the Mtkvari River along the Silk Road. It thrived in pre-Christian times. It was carved into sandstone with an amphitheater, worship chambers (with pits for animal sacrifices) and apothecary (with stone niches for different herbs.) Some of the chambers were carved to look like they were wood plank inside. Portals were carved into the stone to make entering the caves … Continue reading Uplistskhe Cave City, Georgia
The road from Gori to Ateni Sioni Church goes past the oval shaped Gori fortress. The church was not opened and I did not get to see the fabled frescoes. In fact it is under renovation and is surrounded by piles of stones that look like they will be used in replacing walls around the compound. There is scaffolding around one side of the main … Continue reading Ateni Sioni Monastery and Church
On Saturday I took a field trip a little to the east. This is my last contracted trip to Georgia and the IREX project ends in September. From the start of the summer it will be mostly clean up. I visited three sites, Gori, the Birthplace of Stalin, Ateni Sioni with its Monastery and convent, and Uplistsikhe, an ancient town carved out of sandstone. Gori … Continue reading Gori, Georgia, Stalin’s Home Town
The fountain in Freedom Square is no longer covered with boards and the water is running, but when I arrived it didn’t feel like spring. A cold, wet rain greeted me in Tbilisi. But as the week progressed, first we saw clearing skies with freezing temperatures, then warming weather and now, temps in the 60s, buds on the trees, blossoms on fruit trees and masses … Continue reading Tbilisi Spring, 2014
I’m back in Sitka now but on my last Saturday in Tbilisi I went to my favorite gallery to look at some gorgeous textile art on UN Circle (Known locally as Round Square) and walked back to the hotel for a couple of miles, mostly along Rustaveli Avenue. It was a clear, cold day and I took some pictures. The Cafe Elvis is in the … Continue reading Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi
IREX is kind enough to put me up at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel on Freedom Square. The front rooms have a wonderful view. I get to watch the traffic circling around and around the monument in an automotive ballet of near misses and skillful maneuvers. The monument had the cable skeleton of a Christmas Tree. The lights were gone but the ice frosted … Continue reading Tbilisi Through My Window
I decided to post a few more pics from my walks through Tbilisi this weekend. It is such a nice town to walk through. Enjoy Continue reading A Walk Through Tbilisi
Tbilisi has had a lot of influences being the crossroads that it is, between Black and Caspian Seas, between Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Some people say the balconies come from the Arabs, but they look almost Spanish (which, thinking about it, could come from the Arabs.) Some of these are wooden balconies from the Old City. When I originally posted wrought iron … Continue reading Tbilisi Balconies
These are some pictures from Tbilisi at street level. Please look at yesterday’s post for text. Continue reading Tbilisi in the Snow, Day Two
Tbilisi is trying to erase traces of the Soviet Union, but when the snow comes and you squint you can imagine this as a Soviet City. Women of a certain age (and some of their daughters) bring out their (or mom’s) luxuriant black fur coats and wear them without fear of PETA. Russian words creep into discussion (“sneg” is snow) and conversation turns to memories … Continue reading Tbilisi in the Snow
Every city has its Journalist hangout. In Tirana it was Fideli’s, a strange cross in décor and ambiance between Beethoven’s opera and Fidel Castro. There were few working landlines in Tirana at the time, and no mobile phones. If I wanted to meet a journalist I always went to Fideli’s and usually would find him or her. My office, effectively, was there. That bar is … Continue reading Frontline, Tbilisi
Khor Virap is the Armenian monastery closest to the sacred Mt. Ararat. Because of a combination of fog and cloud we were only graced with fleeting glimpses of the mountain and never got its picture. But when we got to the Monastery a man pushed pigeons into our hands (he said they were doves) and told us to release them with our fondest dreams so … Continue reading Khor Virap Monastery, Armenia
The Drive from Yerevan to Tbilisi is through the Debed Canyon that runs north from Vanadzor to the border. The canyon has decaying industrial towns at its base and soaring monasteries, surrounded by traditional villages, on its peaks. Armenia has beautiful countryside, rugged mountains and ancient historic monasteries interspersed with industrial wastelands of pervasive ugliness. You can take it all in by just turning your … Continue reading Monasteries and MiGs, Sanahin Side.
Haghpat Monastery looks across the Debed Valley at the Sanahin Monastery. In the valley in the middle sits the industrial town of Alaverdi. The Alaverdi region is famous for its monasteries and its Soviet heroes. It is the home of the Mikoyan Brothers. There’s a museum dedicated to the Mikoyan brothers in Sanahin. One brother, Anastas, was a politburo member for 60 years who served … Continue reading Monasteries and MiGs, Haghpat Side.
Working in Georgia is like being on a vacation; I stay in a luxury hotel, with a spa equipped with a pool, hot tub and sauna. It has nice food and my room has a wonderful view over Freedom Square, up the hill to the Citadel and across to the Presidential Palace and Holy Trinity Cathedral. St. George is constantly in the act of slaying … Continue reading Tbilisi from my window and other views, Sept. 2013
Sighnaghi, with only 2,100 people, is a mountain top architectural gem. Its name comes from the word siginak, Turkish for “shelter.” It was built in the 18th century as a fortified town on the frontiers of Moslem Azerbaijan and Dagestan. It main industries are wine making, carpet making and, now, tourism. The town is circled by about 4.5 kilometers of wall with 23 defensive towers. … Continue reading Sighnaghi, Georgia