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Skiing in Gudauri

Posted Mon, 12 Jan 2015 12:02:09 GMT Georgia Caucasus Traveling

So we got this idea to go skiing for three days in the mountains close to Tbilisi in a ski resort called Gudauri. After two hours of intensive searching and calling lots of people(by Kai, mostly in russian), we found a nice appartement close to the first ski lift.

As we already got hungry, we went to go to a restaurant for dinner near Kai's old appartement in Tbilisi. Kai suggested we should visit his old flat and see if a friend of him, Nora, was there. She wasn't, but all her flatmates. Nikolos, a nice guy from Georgia, liked the idea of skiing so he joined us with the dinner and skiing on the next day.

The next day, we got up early and took a Marschutka (minibus) to Gudauri. We were a bit afraid of not having enough snow, as some people warned us.

  • Kai trying to find a place to stay in Gudauri

  • Marschutka: 7 Lari (~3€) from Tblisi to Gudauri

The appartement turned out to be really nice, so we hit the slopes for our first day of skiing. İt was snowing constantly, but it didn't bother us, as we expected to have some nice skiing in the fresh snow. İn the evening I already dreamed of some good powder, as it didn't stop snowing for the whole day.

Well it didn't stop for the night either. İt snowed more than a meter in that night and we got some good powder, well you can't really ski if there's one meter of powder on the slopes. And roads don't work either. We later realized we got stuck in the snow when people told us, that they heard about it in the news.

  • Our flat

  • It's snowing non-stop

We searched for Eka, our landlady, to make a deal in the case, we needed to stay some more nights. İn the meantime we heard of the news, that the georgian government is mobilising everything to open the roads again, as it is an important trade route with russia (also for Armenia).

We found Eka in a small compartement with two security guards, who couldn't go home because of the blocked road. So they did what you do in Georgia if you have no other choice, drinking wine :)

She told us it would be no problem to stay longer, as other guests had no chance to come to Gudauri either. Then we got invited to drink some wine together. İn Georgia it is common to speak a toast before you drink. We had many different toasts while we were in that little compartement: On Gudauri, live, friendship, local wine, the lady (Ela), all ladies (Ela and Eka), hospitality, winter, snow, tolerance and many more.

İn a Georgian toast round, there's also special toasts. One of them is called a toast toss: One person starts a toast and another choosen person needs to finish that toast. Another special toast is an extended toast, where one person starts a topic and each person needs to add something and drink to the end. All together a very interesting and intoxinating experience.

  • One of the security guards after inviting us to some wine..

  • ..and a georgian toast round

This was by far not the end of the evening as we continued to go to an invitation by Robert. We met Robert on the slopes earlier, he and his group were on the way to a place close to Gudari and got stuck on the way, so they also stayed in Gudauri. The invitation was in the Chimney Bar of the 4 star hotel "Marco Polo". We had some nice drinks, wine and a good round of movie charades.

  • Harsh acting in a game of film charades

  • Robert, the friendly guy from Texas who invited us for some drinks at the bar

The next day wer started to get a little bit nervous, as the roads were still closed. Kai had to get his flight back a day later and Nikolos had an important appointement with the German consulat in Tbilisi. So after half a day of searching, Maria and Robert organised a private Marschutka to Tbilisi, the moment the roads opened (İt was only open for about 20 cars every hour). It tooks us 5 hours back to Tbilisi for 300$, which was about 9 times as much per person as it was on the way to Gudauri, but nobody missed a flight or appointement!

  • Waiting for the police to open the road towards Tblisi

  • A caucassian shepard dog

The whole trip to Gudauri felt like it was about 10 days long, even though it only lasted 3 days and 2 nights.

Tbilisi

Posted Sun, 11 Jan 2015 01:02:56 GMT Georgia Caucasus Traveling

Bauhäusle at Tblisi: Ela, Kai and myself

Directly after 31C3, I flew to Tbilisi, to meetup with two former flatmates: Ela and Kai. Ela started on the same day from Basel and was like me never before In Georgia or Turkey. She plans to travel with my until mid january. Kai was many times before in Georgia, he even worked for some time as a german teacher at a school in Tblisi. Kai became a very good tourist guide in Tbilisi, as he knows the city, its history and the Georgian language very well.

Tbilisi was founded next to some hot springs which are still used in the bath houses today. Most houses in Tbilisi are relatively young, as it is located in an area with has lots of earth quakes. Despite buildings lasting not very long, it looks old. This is, because the materials needed for constructing houses are hard to aquire and old parts are reused and because the Georgian government likes to construct buildings which look old. Sometimes they only build up the front of crashed buildings, so it looks intact.

  • The ugliest christmas tree ever by day (freedom square)

  • The oldest house in Tblisi

Georgia itself is inhibited by an own culture not connected deeply with its neighbours. It has its own language and alphabet. The alphabet is similar to the Latin alphabet, but looks different ("Tbilisi" in georgian alphabet is "თბილისი"). It features some extra 'ch' sounds and is missing a 'f' sound.

Most georgians we meet, were friendly, helpful and good drinkers :) When we got out visa at the airport, we got a free bottle of wine with it. It is said, that wine originates in Georgia. And of all different sorts of grapes you can find in the world, 90% can be found in Georgia. The most common wine is a black wine which is very strong and still a little bit sweet.

The pressed grapes are distilled into a strong liqueur called "Chacha", which can be bought for as less as 5 Lari a bottle (~2,2€) or for double the price in a restaurant (yes, still in bottles).

  • Translated company logo

  • Seasons greetings by the country of georgia: 90 day visum and a bottle of wine

As Kai knows a lot of people in Tbilisi, we didn't had to search for a place to stay, we stayed at Hardys place for the first days until we went skiing in Gudari (next blog post) and afterwards at Nikolos, Nora and Marias place/Kai and Hardy old flat. Hardy is a traveller who got stuck for some time in Tbilisi, but still plans to continue his travels. After being in Tbilisi for some time, I can understand how this could happen.

Tbilisi has a really nice bar scene with lots of nice people frequenting many nicely decorated places (Favorites: Riffer Bar and Cannudos). Most bars are unterground (literally) and are open until about 4 in the morning. There's also a trend in converting flats into nice living room bars which are very cosystem and friendly places.

Most people we met, prefer to be awake late and are not known for being on time. Hardy explained it by calling the Georgian time zone, the "Georgian Maybe Time".

  • One of my favorite bars in Tbilisi: Riffer Bar

  • One of the living room bars

I was positively surprise by the selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes in Georgia. This originates in the Georgian tradition of fastening: Every friday and two timespans a year with each one month. Traditionally fastening in Georgia means living on a vegan diet.

Common Georgian dishe are filled bread with cheese ("Khachapuri") or mashed beans ("Lupiani"), cooked or fried dumplings filled with potatoes, mushrooms, cheese or meat ("Khinkali") and lots of grilled or cooked vegetable dishes with a tasty walnut paste.

My favorite Georgian spice is "Adjika", a spicy blend of chilli, salt and traces of magic unicorn tears.

For the hangover, or days without alcohol, Georgians prefer mineral water with a high amount of Natrium (my favorite: Borjomi), extremely sweet lemonade or beer.

  • Here we had our first Lupiani (Bread filled with mashed beans, vegan)

  • Two different Khachapuris and Khinkalis

Please don't forget to scroll through the images and to have a good time!

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