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Rafal's Travel log

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Life is a journey - enjoy it

Log entries 1 - 10 of 197 Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Aug 30, 2014 04:00 PM In(famous) son

In(famous) son It was the last day in Georgia. As we were short with the time we decided to take a taxi from Tbilisi to the airport in Kutaisi (250 kilometres ~ 60 eur). The aim of that was the stopover in town of Gori. It is the place that suffered the most during last Russian - Georgian war in 2008. The town was heavi bombarded and floded with refuges from South Ossetia. However Gori is famous with different "attraction" It is the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. There is a big museum comemorated to Stalin. Museum contains (entrance fee 8 eur) contains three parts - the house where he was bor and lived before moving to Tbilisi, Museum building with Stalin's way to power and a train carriage used by him to travel. The museum offers also free english speaking guided tour. What was interesting for me, it was a fact that museum doesn't show the quantity of crimes done or ordered by Stalin. But still it was very worth to visit.
That was the last thing we visited during this wonderful journey. The only thing I am sure is that Georgia will be on of few countries that I will come back and visit again.

Aug 29, 2014 04:00 PM Not this time

Not this time Kazbeg is the mountain at the border with Russia. It is located only 180 kilometers from Tbilisi. To get there we took a taxi (170 gel, return trip with waiting time). We left Tbilisi in the morning and first stop was at Zhinvali water resevoir (it is an artificial lake, created because of nearby damm). After we visited scenic Ananuri Fortress (free entrance). Next part of the trip was one of the most memorable in my life. We slowly enter in the Caucasus mountain range. Mountains got higher and higher and more specacular with every kilometer. We passed through Gaudari (winter captal of Georgia) and then we had a stop in Jvari pass. Strange soviet construction, serving as the view point is there, but the panorama nad views were spectacular. Next part of the route till Kazbegi (or called now Stepansminda) was no less spectacular. When we reached the town (only 12 kilomteres from Russian border) high mountains were not yet covered by clouds. To get to Tsminda Sameba - a monastery located on the mountain overlooking the village are two ways. First one is by taxi (50 GEL), second by foot (for free - 2 hours up; 1,5 hours down). Tsminda Sameba is famous for its extraordinary look over the Kazbek mountain, but unfortunately we had no luck. The weather got very cloudy and we couldn't see anything. Monastery itself is also interesting, but entry rules are strict (woman only in a long dress; men only in trousers; no shorts or t-shirts allowed). Despite the clouds I don't regret any moment of that journey :)

Aug 28, 2014 04:00 PM Mccheta - how to pronounce it :)

Mccheta - how to pronounce it :) In the morning we went to see the flea market in Tbilisi (so called "Dry bridge marekt"). It was wonderful experience. Thankfully, still huge part of the market is very authentic (unfortunately lower part is already very touristic - "do not make pictures", "don't touch", "you want to buy something", etc, etc....). It was a pleasure to stroll around and look for some unique things to buy. We saw: USSR medals and military hats, swords, old maps and books (mostly in Georgian), many porcelain and other thigs. I bought great, old soviet photo camera from the '60. It will be a challenge to learn make a pictures on them.
After we went to the Old Capital of Georgia - Mccheta (hard to pronounce). It is located only 20 kilomteres from Tbilisi, and it is easy accesible by marshrutka (from Didube bus station; 1 gel). Mccheta is a very cosy town. We had a great lunch, visited stunning Sveti Cchoveli church, Samtravo monastery. After we took a taxi to get to Jvari Church. It has great location, on top of the mountain, overlooking Mccheta and junction of two rivers.

Aug 27, 2014 04:00 PM Tbilisiland

Tbilisiland It was a time to discover Georgian capital. All guidebooks, travel blogs says that it is the most pleasant city in entire Caucasus. We decided to check it :). Since the morning in a great hest (more than 35 Celsius) we left to see the city. I wanted to see the metro. It was the 4th metro system in entire USRR and it was built also as anti-nuclear shelter. The structure is really amazing!!! - built very deep in the ground, it takes more than a minute to get to the platforms. They are not as richly decorated as in other cities, but enitre experience was great. Firstly we saw Freedom Square and then we headed to the Old Town. Unfortunately we started from main tourist street and it was not that nice. Not authentic nor nice. Only souvenirs shops (very kitshy) and bars... I was wondering where is the fabulous architecture of Tbilisi - decayed houses with woderful balconies... We went after to the basilica; this part of the old town was freshly renovated and with the works lost completely its charm. Buildings are nicer - but there was nobody on the streets, nobody lived in the houses ... so artificial - we felt as in some amusement park :( Then we went to take back the jacket and come back to the town. We took funicular to get to the Narikala Fortress. From there is a woderful view over the city. We ended our evening in the baths - very nice (17 eur per person, they are cheating on the massages). Lovely day.

Aug 26, 2014 04:00 PM To the capital

To the capital One of the great things in Georgia is its food, and especially fruits during the summer. Cheap and tasty. It was a great pleasure to have a breakfast in a courtyard of our guesthouse in Borjomi. We had kchacapuri (local delicacy - filo pastry stuffed with cheese), coffe and a huge sweet melon. That is why we left the town later than planned. We took marshrutka from local bus station (8 gel; 2,5 hours) to Tbilisi. We came to Didube bus station and from there we took a taxi to the center. For the ones who will be there - better and cheaper way to get to the centre is by metro; didube metro station is just above the bus station. We found our place to sleep through airbnb. It was a nice studio in Vera district (one metro station or 25 minutes walk from the centre) with fabulous view over the city. In the evening we took a long walk through elegant Rystaveli avenue and then main street of the old town.
I couldn't finish without saying thank you to Artur from Borjomi tourist information. We left a new jacket in marshrutka and Artur was so nice, that after a phone call he went to the bus station, found the driver, took our jacket and sent it to Tbilisi. You are great person Artur - madluba :)

Aug 25, 2014 04:00 PM New (kitschy) and Old (fabulous)

New (kitschy) and Old (fabulous) Georgian state has very strong willing to rebuilt many monuments which were in ruins for ages. It is the case of Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi (reconstruction not that successful) and castle in the town of Akhaltsikhe that I visited today. The castle was in ruins since long time but in 2011 local authorities decided to rebuilt it. From some distance it looks nice, but closer .... it looks like castle built for Disneyland (entrance ticket - 5 GEL). Well I didn't like it. The next stop was in village of Khertvisi. There on a high rock is fabulous Khertvisi Castle (fortress) - free entrance. A few kilomteres further is a wonderfull old rock town of Vardzia. Some says that its internal chambers and corridors could hosts during the siege even 60.000 thousand people. In the XIII century due to huge earthquaque huge part of the mointain where the town was locaed collapsed. After some time the complex was abandonned. The complex makes incredible impression - hundered of small rooms, corridors even a church and everything hardly accesible in the slope of the mountain. At the end we could have a bath in a pool with hot water :)

Aug 24, 2014 04:00 PM Double faces

Double faces As yesterday we came late to Kutaisi, we only had a time for diner (and some chacha - local fire water /75%/) with the hostel owners. As from the morning we left to see one of the biggest Kutaisi attractions - Bagrati Cathedral. To get there we wanted to take funicular, but it was out of service. So we crossed lovely and colourful local market, and the through some residential area we reached the Cathedral. And it was such a big disappointment. I read somewhere that local authorities decided to rebuilt the Cathedral, but I never thought that it will be so badly done (even unesco threatened the authorities to scratch down it from its list). The top of bad taste is some glass structure added to the Cathedral. From the field next to it, there is a great view over the town. Then we took a marshrutka to Borjomi. During USRR, it was the most famous spa of the entire country. Now it has two faces - new (very kitschy) and old (lovely but in very bad condition). To have best view over the town it is advisable, to take a funicular. From there we can see how lovely the town is located.

Aug 23, 2014 04:00 PM Caucasus - part II

Caucasus - part II We are leaving for another exciting trip - to Goergia. I have been already in Armenia and I loved it, so I expect great journey in Georgia. Wonderful landscapes, great food, friendly people. I just can't wait :) Today - first part -flight to Kutaisi :)

May 17, 2014 04:00 PM Not the last time

Not the last time I am already back in Warsaw after having wonderful week in Catalunya and Barcelona. It was a great time with many surprises. I didn't know that the autonomy/independence feeling is so strong. In some areas of the region the signs were only in Catalan and most of people spoke Catalan. In every city there are hundreds of Catalan flags hanging everywhere (doesn't matter if it private or public property). The variety of landscape will satisfy everybody. High and spectacular Pyrenees Mountains, agricultural interior and great sea side (although I didn't see Costa Brava). Finally Barcelona - wonderful city, unfortunately flooded with the tourists. It brings the money there, but it takes the charm. Thankfully Barcelona has many places that are still calm and cosy. Prices went crazy there. Tickets to Gaudi monuments cost together ~ 70 EUR. Even Park Guell since two months is with the entrance fee. Most of the locals complain about it very much. I used for the place to sleep in Barcelona and it was a great choice. Worth to consider.
I also saw double face small country of Andorra. Andorra la Vella is a shopping paradise but just out of the town many small nice places are worth the visit. I more than sure that it wasn't my last time in Barcelona....

May 16, 2014 04:00 PM Gaudilandia

Gaudilandia After having a very cool and relaxing day today we decided to see some wonders of Barcelona- and it was the moment in which I remember what does it mean popular tourist destination. High prices: casa battlio ( masterpiece from Gaudi) ticket 21€, la pedrera ticket 16,50€ (even if now facade is undergoing the renovation), la Sagrada FAmilia - ticket 18€, Park GUell - ticket 8€. Unbelievable. Beside that Barcelona is a lovely city with many areas to spend time. So maybe is better to leave the tourist paths and find Your Barcelona?

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