Tbilisi?

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pezworld
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Tbilisi?

Post by pezworld » Sat Nov 07, 2015 6:44 pm

Husband's latest wacky travel idea. He's thinking May, business class incidentally.

Worth a look?
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Re: Tblisi?

Post by polardude1 » Sat Nov 07, 2015 7:27 pm

I really liked Tblisi and May is great time to visit Georgia. only spent a week in Georgia and wished i put more in. The mountain town, Kazbegi, is a 3 hour trip out of Tbliisi and well worth it. You can also go to wine country

http://wikitravel.org/en/Sighnaghi


I basically went to 3 primary places: Kazbegi where i did some great hiking in the mountains, the ancient monastic caves of David Gareja and nearby historic town, Mtskheta.

Tblisi itself is great to walk around. Try and visit the Dry Bridge where they sell all kinds of nicknacks including Soviet war medals.


The food in Georgia is great
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Re: Tblisi?

Post by Bill Barilko » Sat Nov 07, 2015 8:38 pm

Looks like a rockin' town !





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Re: Tblisi?

Post by Lost Soul » Sun Nov 08, 2015 12:38 am

I'd love to go, pez.

It's an ancient place that has kept the Muslims out.

Language might be a problem.

They've found the oldest Homo Erectus bones outside of Africa there- five individuals 1,800,000 years old.
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Re: Tblisi?

Post by polardude1 » Sun Nov 08, 2015 3:16 am

Language might be a problem.
true, but I managed
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Re: Tblisi?

Post by saheli » Sun Nov 08, 2015 5:44 am

I loved Tbilisi. I heard they renovated it a bit now. My Russian friend went in August and said it looked really cool.

I wouldnt stay in the city for too long though. Go see other cities and the mountains. Nature is amazing there.

Some of the nicest and most hospitable people ever.

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Re: Tblisi?

Post by pezworld » Sun Nov 08, 2015 10:07 pm

Very intriguing. I've also learned that I need to learn how to spell it right if I'm going to do any online research!

So I'll edit my OP accordingly. Thanks!
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by BeatRaven » Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:21 am

3 days in Tbilisi is about right. There's a few olde back streets to wander, some icon shops to skim, a few old churches, a cable car ride up to a big communist style statue. A flea market by the bridge has lots of fake Stalin stuff and scratchy old eastern euro pressings of fusion jazz abums. Near that is a moribund bar done up in a Breakfast at Tiffany's theme. Everyone speaks english and the vibe is reserved/friendly.

Icons cost 50%-65% off what you'd pay in the west. I wish I bought a bigger version of the icon we came to call Yellow Jesus. Supposedly, they washed dead Jesus's face with a yellow cloth and his visage came off on it. Just a great, almost Leonardo-level, really dead, dead, dead Jesus. It's worth going to the Yellow Jesus church to see it live. Just tell the face wash story and they'll send you on your way. Joe blow on the street really knows his iconography and will talk about it all day.

You don't see it (or any specific Icon) everywhere, so it may be down to get or regret if you see an icon you want in the size you want it. It's a fair bit cheaper buying them at shop adjacent to a big church, though selection will be much more limited. No bargaining.

Food was only ok, heavy on the cheezy soft bread that tasted like a Domino's delivery add on. Wine was outright piss. Ditto the beer. Fruit was superb. Real french bakeries at half the french price were fine, as was the downstairs Indian in the little restaurant row.

A day's drive away is Svaneti which is like Bhutan meets Game of Thrones. High severe, mountains; ancient stone towers from when the protected the old bibles against the hun. In the top 5 of the most dreamy, end of the world I have ever seen. Passable restaurants, but def. do a meal of local stodge at your guesthouse. The food was such that I was glad to get a McD's on the way back to town.

Share a landrover for the day's drive to the end of the big scenary line: a few more old stone towers and a soup restaurant boasting some framed pics of John McCain stopping by. George W Bush is considered a hero here (he has his own street in the capital). The soup is missable. I bought Svaneti salt there, the non salt ingredients were cumin and dirt.

We got a cab direct to Svaneti, or so we thought. We were dumped at a bus stop for the last slog into the mountains. It was $100 all in. Every cab booking attempt in Georgia/Armenia had us mildly outwitted and always handed off to a crappier car than what we thought we were getting. At such small sums for such long drives, we were more admiring of the various deft gotcha's than mad about it.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Klara » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:35 am

I'm planning a trip to Georgia too, have been for a while.
Nature looks amazing, and based on the cheap Georgian restaurant I sometimes go to, I have big expectations when it comes to food.
Language has never been a problem for me, and I don't expect it to be in Georgia either.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by simon_in_exile » Mon Nov 09, 2015 6:30 pm

It's a cheap 2.5 hour flight from my current abode. A girl I work with (based in London, Portuguese-French, so no real reason to go) spent a 2 week holiday there last summer and loved it. So Georgia is very high up my wish-list, along with Armenia (am half way through a bottle of Armenian red as I type) and, to a lesser extent, Azerbaijan (visa is a hassle).
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Citizen Baba » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:48 pm

Kutaisi kinda reminded me of what I always imagined Mogadishu to be like. (I liked it, Btraven didn't.) Svaneti is just sublime, the place I'd retire to if I needed to write a book. It's the Alps without the people. Tbilisi is a pleasant inscrutable city. Safe. After about a million cheese pies and ungarnished cucumber and tomato salads, that French bakery was like an oasis in a desert.

We went to see Terrance Blanchard in some Soviet cavern, and a quote from Btraven about the concert (big news there) appeared in the English news daily. I stayed a week longer than Btraven, and down-marketed it at a new hostel. I think I was their first customer, and the twenty-somethings running the place were super friendly, wanted to pick my brain about CSI Miami. I ducked out for a few amorous days in wine country with the Canadian resident there I'd met on Tinder.

My last day I rented a driver with some young-ish French couple who owned a graphic novel publisher. They wanted to pick my brain about The Wire. Gori, Stalin's birthplace, was a complete waste of time, but the stop on the way back at a church, opened just for us, next to a river was well worth the trip. I bought my mom a nice little icon there. (I'm sure it went in the trash about an hour after I left her house.)

The eight flights that leave Tbilisi do so at ungodly hours, but the guest house kid was happy to see me off to a taxi. The fifty-something-year-old driver that looked like Rodney Dangerfield was ecstatic when he found out I was American. With a smile on his face, he rummaged around for sometime under his seat until he found what he was looking for, his "Live at Budokan" cd. So, we rolled down George W. Bush highway at 3am, while the taxi driver bopped his head, smiling and looking back for my approval, to the sounds of "Smoke on the Water".

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Citizen Baba » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:53 pm

Btw, I'd post some of my photos, but I really don't know how.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by pezworld » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:01 pm

Baba, no third world shitholes for my husband (re Mogadishu lite)! I think I'm over them as well. Nice report! And yeah I noticed both arrival and departure hours for flights were crazy.

Simon, you're right! He was even fascinated with all things Armenian for a while due to a coworker named Armen, at his last job. He tried to learn a few words of Armenian to mess with him. We are surrounded by Armenians where I live anyway.
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Citizen Baba » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:06 pm

pezworld wrote:Baba, no third world shitholes for my husband (re Mogadishu lite)! I think I'm over them as well. Nice report! And yeah I noticed both arrival and departure hours for flights were crazy.


Most of Georgia isn't that Third World-y. It ain't Bangladesh. The airport is small, but nice. The roads around Tblisi and into wine country are pretty good. I remember them being okay into Svaneti, but the one from Mestia to the highest village in Europe is really shitty, like three hours to go 45 miles.

Because I know you are curious, the women are gorgeous, but completely off limits.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by lolasf » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:13 pm

Cool report CB, it maybe just crept higher up my list. I think I'll be ok with the women being off limits.
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by polardude1 » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:15 pm

The road up to Kasbegi was a bit rough. I'l try and post some photos later.


Tblisi's airport is pretty modern but small from what I remember when i was there is 2010
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Lost Soul » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:18 pm

Polar, I though you posted a spread on Georgia in travel journalism?

I only remember your Armenia photos though.
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Citizen Baba » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:25 pm

Lost Soul wrote:Polar, I though you posted a spread on Georgia in travel journalism?

I only remember your Armenia photos though.


I remember him posting it like 20 times.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by polardude1 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:16 am

Lost Soul wrote:
Polar, I though you posted a spread on Georgia in travel journalism?

I only remember your Armenia photos though.


The ONE thread, NOT 20 is still there,, but the photos are gone.

Lets's see if I can pull them up without accessing them on my external drive

Image


[/img]Image


Image


Image


Image


Image
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Lost Soul » Tue Nov 10, 2015 3:15 am

Thanks, dude.

I love the church, the tower and the mountains.

Do they rent cars there?
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by BeatRaven » Tue Nov 10, 2015 3:23 am

I stayed in a real Lonely Planet type hotel on that square in pic #1. About $60, plenty of vacancies.

Beneath the very nondescript hotel, they had a zillion year old wine cellar with a little river running thru it.

Pic #3 looks like the end of the road trip from Svaneti.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Citizen Baba » Tue Nov 10, 2015 3:59 am

BeatRaven wrote:
Beneath the very nondescript hotel, they had a zillion year old wine cellar with a little river running thru it.


Staffed by chain-smoking Russians and a guard kitten and next to the synagogue.

#2 is the cave monasteries.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by polardude1 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:44 am

Do they rent cars there?


I'm sure you can, but I did not shop around. I used taxis and marshutkas
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by cuchulainn » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:52 am

Why would you want to drive there? I know Lost Soul can't read Georgian.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Lost Soul » Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:06 pm

cuchulainn wrote:Why would you want to drive there?

Gee, I don't know, because it's bigger than Vatican City?

I know Lost Soul can't read Georgian.

They drive on the right, like educated people.
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by polardude1 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:20 pm

When I took a marshutkas from the Armenian border to Tblisi, the driver decided that it was not enough to get behind a car passing the slower car on the left. The drive went off the road to pass the both of them. The drivers are nuts in Georgia. I would not drive there.
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Lost Soul » Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:25 pm

If you had been driving you would have stayed on the road, polar.

But I get your point.
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by polardude1 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:28 pm

The fear is for other drivers. Also I really would not have wanted to take a rental car up the Military Road to Kazbegi. Much of it was a rough gravel road
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by pezworld » Tue Nov 10, 2015 5:47 pm

Wow, thanks! I admit I don't venture over to the Travel Journalism branch that often. Gorgeous pics.

So last night, ehs said "Tbilisi is close to Iran!" as in, should we go there? He knows that I've been intrigued by Iran since I almost moved there with my family for a year, before the pesky revolution made that impossible. However, I reminded him I'm American without any other passports, so I assume getting a visa would be problematic. "But Rick Steves and Anthony Bourdain have been there!" he replied.

We're still discussing.
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by polardude1 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 6:01 pm

So last night, ehs said "Tbilisi is close to Iran!" as in, should we go there?

By land, Armenia is in-between. Iran might need a separate trip
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Citizen Baba » Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:09 pm

Armenia is to Georgia what Kansas is to Colorado.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by simon_in_exile » Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:39 pm

Citizen Baba wrote:Armenia is to Georgia what Kansas is to Colorado.

Really? I have plans to visit both on separate trips (there's a nice looking small mountain I'd like to hike up in Armenia, and I find the culture interesting).
Would I be wasting my time there, or are you just talking about the (lack of) Caucasus Mtns?
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Lost Soul » Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:54 pm

Polar did a photo spread on Armenia in the travel journalism branch too.

It looks great, and is anything but flat.

In short, please ignore Sai's comparison. Unless Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona become Mooslum.
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Citizen Baba » Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:57 pm

I found Armenia quite dull in comparison to Georgia.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by polardude1 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:45 pm

Polar did a photo spread on Armenia in the travel journalism branch too.


It did but al the photos were posted through Shutterfly but their TOS changed. So the photos are gone

I found Armenia quite dull in comparison to Georgia.

I can agree to some extent, but there were some very good and ancient religious sites. I felt like I stepped decades back in time when in Armenia
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by BeatRaven » Wed Nov 11, 2015 2:49 am

Armenia felt much more commie-crushed. Upside: more wacky socialist-atomic concrete bus shelters and rusting, listing hammars and sickles by the side of the road -but just a few. Blogs make it look like there is a giant Lenin head lolling around every 20 feet.

Georgia was richer and happier. It was like going from Alabama to Maine.

By that time, we had had enough cheesy bread and were only dining western style. That food was better than in Georgia, but we're talking Golden Panda steam table chinese and deeply leaden hamburgers.

Nicer churches in Armenia, but nicer enough that a non orthodox can really suss? The eternal flame of their holocost was pretty ghetto-ish and broken down. Most of it was locked up tight.

Looked into Iran 2 years ago. Yanks can go on a private tour with a guide. They have much more expensive group tours you could do too. Like Bhutan, if you organize it all yourself, it's a lot cheaper. Last look was a price of a 100 euros per person per day, plus the flight.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Citizen Baba » Wed Nov 11, 2015 5:10 pm

The area reminds me of Korea in some ways. Women were skirts barely concealing their coochies and people drink their faces off, but there is an underlying cultural conservativism.

Yerevan is having the best of Soviet architecture, which sure is like being the nicest man in prison. The relative aridness of the place, the sandstone architecture, and wide boulevards makes it feel a lot more Middle Eastern than Georgia. There is some pleasant street music.

But, in the end, Yerevan is a bit of a snooze. Tbilisi has been the center of a people for dozens of centuries, while Yerevan feels like the Armenians' consolation prize.

Figuring out the location and hours of the art museum with Western masters is either like decyphering the Rosetta Stone or we just didn't try all that hard. The sixty-something guy I know -- divorced thrice over for greencards and stuck -- was just a sad sack coda.

The only other place we went to in Armenia was some underwhelming vacation mountain town that couldn't hold a candle to anything similar in Georgia.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by polardude1 » Wed Nov 11, 2015 5:58 pm

The only other place we went to in Armenia was some underwhelming vacation mountain town that couldn't hold a candle to anything similar in Georgia.


Lake Sevan? I never saw any special attatraction going there. I went to the south to see Tatev monastery, Noravank Monastery and the abandoned cave city of Khndzoresk. In the nortyh I stopped in Alaverdi for a day to see 2 monasteries on opposite sides of Debed canyon
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Citizen Baba » Wed Nov 11, 2015 6:25 pm

polardude1 wrote:
The only other place we went to in Armenia was some underwhelming vacation mountain town that couldn't hold a candle to anything similar in Georgia.


Lake Sevan? I never saw any special attatraction going there. I went to the south to see Tatev monastery, Noravank Monastery and the abandoned cave city of Khndzoresk. In the nortyh I stopped in Alaverdi for a day to see 2 monasteries on opposite sides of Debed canyon


I think it was nanook of the north.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by BeatRaven » Wed Nov 11, 2015 6:49 pm

That sad old pussy hound in Yerevan was -like all of them- 100% delusion-free as to the big hole he had dug for himself in life, not to mention Kahil Gibran-level philosophical about it. He put all his eggs in the pussy basket with the usual strip-mined results.

His current project, a 45 year old virgin trying to get to the states had the best cockblock of all time: "My napkin is clean, and so it must remain."

Top guy, 'bought me sweet and sour pork and took me out sleeping pill shopping while Baba chased some impossible female situation. Restoril, I think, over the counter, maybe a dime a pill. I brought back a ton. Russian medicine label = no probs at customs.

In general, the region is excellent for fulfilling various prescriptions on the mega cheap. The eyeglass situation was a deal too. Almost-ray-bans were about $25 as a prescription.

The Kardashian episode where they go home to Armenia will be on re-runs forever and shows a lot of Tblisi and Yerevan very well. The part where Kanye visits white people making folk music only to silently beam beatifically at them is reality TV gold.
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by polardude1 » Wed Nov 11, 2015 6:50 pm

I think it was nanook of the north.

It's juts a vacation destination for locals
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by Xerius » Sat Nov 14, 2015 5:32 am

I loved Tbilisi when I was there back in May of 2002. Georgia was a bit of a wreck still then - Shevardnadze was still running the country and most everything was a shambles. Pretty much every road I traveled on (pretty much all by mashrutka) was potholed to hell, which was always simultaneously fascinating and terrifying given the local driving habits. But Tbilisi itself was a joy to explore, and the Georgian people are among the world's most hospitable. I'm sure it's in far better condition nowadays than it was when I visited (probably most of the rest of the country too). Unlike Btraven, I found the food delicious. I don't remember the wine particularly being either great or bad, but I'm hardly a connoisseur anyways. If you're going to travel all the way out there, at least plan for a week, which would allow you to hop around some of the other interesting destinations around the capital (Mtskheta, Kazbegi, Gori, David Gareja, etc.). For seeing more of Georgia, I'd really suggest a minimum of two weeks.

Armenia's worth taking in as well. Not quite as stunning scenically as Georgia, nor probably as historic, but the people are wonderful and the ecclesiastical sites are well worth exploring. For all its austere Soviet tuff architecture, I actually kind of liked Yerevan - it has an interesting buzz to it, and there's so much street life.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by simon_in_exile » Mon Oct 08, 2018 8:01 pm

This was good to re-read, and I’m finally going there (fly into Yerevan and out of Tbilisi) in a couple of weeks - just in process of booking. Eight days isn’t enough, but school holidays blah blah...
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by polardude1 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 8:26 pm

Have a great trip.not nearly enough time, but you'e close enough for a return trip
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by simon_in_exile » Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:08 am

That’s the plan - wouldn’t mind another week or so from Black Sea to Caspian, flying into Batumi and out of Baku, plus maybe another Armenia trip by myself.
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by polardude1 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:27 am

David Gareja is an interesting day trip from Tblisi

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Gar ... ry_complex
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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by ben_hanscombe » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:01 am

Yes, I second the David Gareja recommendation.

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Re: Tbilisi?

Post by micvan » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:20 pm

Loved Georgia, would give Batumi a miss horribly humid lots of vacationing Russians. Also Turks who come to gamble. Food is excellent! Not confined to kinkales and cheese stffed bread. I wish I could have stayed a couple of more days in Kazbegi. Drivers are crazy! Went up to Mestia and Ushgali. We took the night train down to Yerevan. Interesting I was reading an article the other day that Yerevan is older than Rome.

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