A Little Further Afield

First up we’ve had a five day stop over in Athens where we enjoyed yummy Greek food and a little sightseeing, and we have now left our apartment in Arcos permanently as the logistics just weren’t working for us, so sadly we said farewell to the town and it looks like I won’t be fulfilling the Aspects of Arcos project as I had imagined.

After leaving Athens we have been on a little jaunt through Georgia. Yes, we have now left the EU, temporarily, and made a short hop to the western side of Asia, the land of the Caucasus Mountains, where many roads have crossed and the travellers, the armies, the pilgrims and the traders have all left their mark over the centuries.

We had only been in the capital Tbilisi for a few days when we discovered that it was Independence Day, which with the extensive military presence seemed a little like the movie but without the aliens.

Tbilisi is a mix of very modern architecture, Soviet era buildings (many of them in poor repair and even crumbling) and some older traditional structures which makes for an interesting mix, with lots of food stalls and street sellers to round it out. Georgian food is maybe a little too bread-based for our tastes but here we tried a number of Georgian specialities including khachapuri (cheese bread, which there are many variations of), acharuli khachapuri (boat shaped bread filled with melted cheese and a whole egg), lobliani (bean filled bread), badrijai nigvzit (ground walnuts and spices wrapped in strips of cooked eggplant) and spinach pkhali (ground walnut and spinach patties).

After some time in the big city we spent a few days in the small and a bit touristy town of Sighnaghi situated on a hill top in the wine growing district of Kakheti, with a panoramic view of the Caucasus Mountains. Although we couldn’t actually see the mountains when we first arrived, they showed up briefly through the haze and clouds the next day and more clearly still the day after that, although still disappointingly hazy. A pleasant forty minute stroll down the road from here is the marvellous monastery and church (yes more churches!) of Bodbe with 800 steps leading down to the spring that welled forth where Saint Nino gained realisation (apparently). The grounds are lovingly tended with extensive vegetable gardens and fruit trees, all with the same stunning view of the mountains.

Further along we had another few days in the largest town of the region, Telavi, with a big indoor market (cherries are in season for as little as $2/kg!) and an even closer view of the Caucasus.  After sampling more of the local fare such as imeruli khachapuri (cheese inside the bread this time) and churchkhela (walnuts or hazelnuts threaded on a string and coated many times with grape juice until it dries to a rubbery texture) we chilled out at the pleasant guesthouse where we were staying until returning briefly to Tbilisi.

I had high expectations for Georgia and so far have been a little underwhelmed (that’s the problem with expectations) but hopefully that will be remedied with further exploration. For now though, we are leaving Georgia and returning again a few weeks later.

Next stop, Armenia. 

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