To the mountains

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September 7th 2016
Published: October 1st 2017
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Geo: 42.4775, 44.4744

Brekkies in the hotel, then we spent 90 minutes tracking down insulin – but we were successful! We were told that insulin is hard to come by in Georgia, particularly the fast-acting insulin. The driving around town enabled us to see more of Tbilisi that we would otherwise not get to see.

After that, we drove to Mtskheta - the ancient capital of Georgia, located at the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers. One river is muddy and the other is clear, so the confluence is fairly obvious. The drive up the road to Jvari, the 6th century cross-shaped monastery built on the top of a cliff, reminded me a lot of the mountains around Malibu. The monastery was a busy place, but built on the side of a cliff and very beautiful. This is apparently the place where St. Nino, a female evangelist and one of the most popular saints in Georgia, erected a large wooden cross on the site of a pagan temple.

Down in the valley below, we visited Svetitskhoveli, the fortified cathedral dating from the 11th century. Svetitskhoveli is a sacred place where the Robe of Christ is supposedly buried. (Although, according to the very reliable Wikipedia: "A portion of the himation was also brought to Georgia, but it was placed in the treasury of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, where it remained until the seventeenth century. Then the Persian Shah Abbas I, when he invaded Georgia, carried off the robe. In order to ingratiate himself with Tsar Michael Feodorovich, the Shah sent the robe as a gift to Patriarch Philaret (1619–1633) and Tsar Michael in 1625." It later ended up in St Petersburg and Moscow.) It was a very large cathedral, with a small yard, surrounded by a defensive wall. And shops. Lots of shops.

From here, we drove along the Georgian Military Highway, which round around the hills and alongside a reservoir. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant overlooking the reservoir; very good food. Our next stop was to visit Ananuri Architectural complex-former residence of Dukes of Aragvi region. This is a complex of churches and towers dating back to the XVI-XVII cc. overlooking Jinvali reservoir. We visited the church, then climbed the wall and entered the towers. Many of the carvings on the wall reminded us of Celtic knots.

The rest of the afternoon took us to Gudauri, a ski resort town perched on the slopes of the Caucasus. We checked into our rooms, had dinner, then went to bed.

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