Tbilisi: An Accident?



October 1, 2012


Dear Rabbi Kantor, My Family and My Friends,

What happened today, was it an accident?

After yesterday's tiring journey from Bangkok to Tbilisi, after a late breakfast today, after several telephone conversations with two hotels, after a period of indecision and finally a decision, after waiting for an appointment who never showed up, finally, at about 11:30 in the morning, I begin my stroll in Tbilisi.

I walk down a hill high above the Mtkvari River, cross the river on a modern footbridge, and make a left turn up a cobbled street lined with restaurants and souvenir shops.  Then I choose a right turn up a main thoroughfare.  I stop to buy a hat.  I continue my stroll while looking for a "second cup of coffee."  

The sign says "Electric Cafe" so I take a right turn down a narrow side street.  The cafe is there but just opposite the cafe is a large building.  A synagogue! 

Gori and the Cave City



October 3, 2012

My Dear Loyal Comrades,

Just outside the small city of Gori , perched up on a mountain overlooking the Mtkvari River valley, lies the ancient Cave City of Uplistsikhe.

History in the cave city goes back to the 6th Century BCE.  Pagans, Christians, Arabs, Mongols and Georgians have occupied the area.  At its peak, more than 20,000 people lived here.

Besides the large priestly courts and theaters, some of the caves are clearly living quarters (stone beds) and kitchens (sooted walls).  The stone pits were used for corn, water and wine storage.  There’s even a jail or two.

Vardzia and the Khertvisi Fortress




October 6, 2012

Dear Travelers,

The splendid, sun-drenched drive through the stark dramatic Erusheti Mountains of the Samtskhe-Javakheti Region of southwestern Georgia reminds me of my autumn days in New England years ago.  Dark green and bright gold dominate the scene.

Against the blue horizon, a shadowy distant outline of the walls of the Khertvisi Fortress brings a smile. The climb to the ramparts brings a sense of ancient history.  Already established for who knows how long, “Alexander the Macedonian” visited the site during his Eastern Campaign. 

Akhaltsikhe to Kutaisi


Imereti Region


Monday, October 8, 2012

Dear Dodie … and my dear Maphead friends,*

Thank you for following me with your Atlas.  I am so pleased that you are taking such a serious interest in my Georgia travels. 

To help you along, here is my itinerary since leaving Tbilisi:

Day 1. October 5.  Tbilisi – Akhaltsikhe  

At the Avis agency at the Marriott Courtyard I rented a Toyota Corolla with manual transmission.  I succeeded in negotiating the traffic in town and headed west on the M1 highway past Gori to Khashuri.   Most of that route is a modern four-lane highway.

Svaneti: Falling Rock Zone


Svaneti Region


(1500m. 4920 ft.)

October 9, 2012

My dear driving enthusiasts,

North of Zugdidi, the mountain road begins.  It’s a good paved road, but on the very first incline, the international sign indicates “Fallen Rock Zone.”  As I climb higher and higher here in the Greater Caucasus, rocks big and small litter the road. 

Fields of pebbles, rocks of all shapes, and from time to time a boulder the size of a piano have tumbled down the steep sides of the mountains.

As I drive, I wonder, “Will I be in the wrong place at the wrong time?”

I steer around the impediments with ease and confidence, shifting the gears up and down as I proceed up the one lane mountain “path.” 

Mestia: Night & Day


Svaneti Region

The Greater Caucasus


October 11, 2012

Dear Friends,

It’s a toss-up.

Do we prefer the scenery in the pre-dawn hours or in the afternoon?

Before dawn, I took photographs from my bedroom window and from the front entrance of the hotel.

 Megi, the hotel waitress, and I took a short excursion in the afternoon.  We walked along the nearby river and then up the hill to the Saint Nicholas Church. 

Erected in the 9th to the 12th Centuries, the towers of Svaneti are the fortified homes of the highland Svan warriors.