Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tuesday, May 17th, Gudauri, Georgia


Today, most of the day was spent in our bus, and on the train during Tuesday night.  But don't despair.  Pat's daily journal always spices up these posts, and she comes through again.

We awoke to a sunny day!  The mountain peaks gleaming in the blue sky.  What a difference the weather makes.  After breakfast, we drove about 10 miles further up the road – seeing more mountain peaks.  There are wild flowers too.  A mountain azalea (sulfurous yellow), buttercups, a small light yellow purple rhodias, apple and plum trees.  We see cows, pigs, goats, dogs (big), and ponies on the road.  

Back towards Svanetia, another turnoff takes us to a ski lift.  Up 1800 meters to a 360 degree Caucasus Mountain Range panorama, a breathtaking experience.

Back into town, we hike up a steep, rough “cobbled” street (i.e. split, oval, river stones) to one of the stone defensive towers.  Built in the 11th century, there is a series of “rooms” with steep, rickety ladders to climb between.  Pat opted out, but I and some others made it up 3 to 4 floors before bailing out.  It was pretty scary and dusty.

We had a leisurely lunch on the patio/bar with the mountains as a backdrop.  More yummy salads, katchapurri, and lots of eggplant. 

We began our five-hour bus ride back down the mountain to Zugdidi.  But this time it’s sunny, so the greenery, geology, and hydrology (several waterfalls) are much more visible.  The country is totally hydro-electric powered with power to sell to Russia. 

Our white bus is in a race with the other (red) bus, and they are complaining about always following us – and our blocking the view.  So we joked about it all day – seeing snow leopards, moose, bear, etc.

The ten of us in the white bus are a good group.  Bob from New York is quite a jolly helpful guy.  Zofia, a Polish research physician living in La Jolla.  Plenty of other interesting folks whose conversations and life stories are enjoyable and fascinating.  We arrive back in Zugdidi for dinner, take a short tour of a small palace and church, and board the 10:15pm train back to Tbilisi by 6:30am..  This time, we have Johanna (and her wine) in the same car.

Ps. We just learned there is a short flight from Tbilisi to Mestia for $30 one way!!!  Here's a cool video of a winter train ride through some of the same territory.

To see the photos we took today, click on:
Tuesday, May 17th

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