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We head back to Georgia, trying to avoid all historic monuments. We only stop in Ala verdi, where we find a soviet-style canteen with delicious kebabs just waiting for us. Then we get on a little cable car going up and down the mountain filled with those ugly blocks of flats…

Goodbye, Armenia, we liked a lot all your churches and lovely people that would very often surprise us with some good Polish spoken (always the same story – worked in Poland, then got deported, now trying to get back there) and who always try to be helpful, though sometimes they mistake left for right and vice versa.

In the afternoon we greet Tbilisi again – the city of beautiful facades, sadly all grey, the city of broad roads and deep holes, beautiful girls and rivers of alcohol… We meet our old friends – DJ George Destroy, Vazha from Green Stairs hostel, funky bunch from Rover…

We are still fed up with all the churches. In fact, we’re tired of sightseeing as such already. This is why we only check out one place – Amberd fortress, where you can find pieces of middle age pottery under your feet.

Late afternoon we park next to Aparan lake, next to the ruins of some anonymous church… Stuffing ourselves with cheese and beer we’re trying to make plans for next days to come…

***

Przesyt związany ze zwiedzaniem kościołów a nawet zwiedzaniem samym w sobie nie mija, postanawiamy zatem dzisiaj ograniczyć program – forteca Amberd nam wystarczy, zwłaszcza po długim, wyboistym i krętym podjeździe… Ruiny zwiedzamy niespiesznym krokiem, co chwilę potykając się o kawałki średniowiecznej ceramiki. Uważajcie, po czym depczecie!

Późnym popołudniem rozbijamy obozowisko przy jeziorze Aparan, w sąsiedztwie… ruin kościółka, jakże by inaczej… Wcinając miejscowy ser, staramy się stworzyć plan na kolejne dni…

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Another day in Armenia and another daily ratio of monasteries… And the majestic Mount Ararat, the place where Noah is said to have brought his ark and a painful national symbol for Armenians. They can cross the border with Turkey and climb the mountain but apparently it can sometimes be very dangerous…

A tenth or n-th church and we’re getting a little bored. Luckily, at the end of the day we get to Garni, where a hellenist temple of Minerva dominates the landscape (it wasn’t easy to get there though… no road signs and locals having no space orientation whatsoever).

We get a nice commission on tickets because we’re Polish:) We can also camp next to the temple and swim in nearby pool (that is not the best idea, though – the water is really freezing). While we’re contemplating the beautifly lit facade, some unexpected guests arrive. We then have a barbecue with future king of Armenia…

We reach Yerevan in the morning and we start with organizing our Turkmen visa that we need in order to apply for Iranian transit visa. Unfortunately, in the embassy we are told that the tourist version is quite impossible to get and to get the transit visa through Turkmenistan we need the Uzbekistan visa first. And there is no Uzbek embassy in Armenia… Baku will be the place where we will try to get all three visas in a row.

Rest of the day is spent on shopping – we visit a number of lovely bazaars as well as a big jewellery mall, where you can see the whole procedure from treating a stone to selling the ring…

We then head to Sevan lake, passing through the town called the same name, where a huge ugly block of flats quarter makes a setting for the most meaningful monument of communism. Imagine a big old rusty ferris wheel with just one…

A second day in Armenia and a second encounter with the police (we didn’t like the red light and we just ignored its mere existence). The cop is so nice to be bribed with … 4 US dollars.

We make a tour of monasteries, ending up in Saghmosavank (a church picturesquely set on a cliff of small canyon; be sure to check out the little chapel – breathtaking), where we put up a camp. In a few moments a bunch of local kids approaches. Friendly as they are they are not really helpful with organizing our place. The good solution is to invite them all to play football together – I take up this mission while the others get ready for the night.

And the night was stormy and windy – only the kind presence of Patricia prevented our tents from flying away.

***

Drugi dzień w Armenii to drugi kontakt z policją (nie spodobało się nam czerwone światło i…

Equipped with ultraexpensive Azerbaijani visas (obtained in one day via travel agency recommended by the embassy) we head for Armenia. Our new and fresh visas get decorated with Armenian border officer’s stamp – a way of manifesting hostility towards Azerbaijan. Let’s hope this will not make our trip complicated later on…

As for complications… Though entering Armenia is easy and cheap (9 euros, visa obtained at the border) we get quite a nasty surprise: you have to pay a lot of money for bringing your own vehicle in the country. They tell us that this is a road and environment tax – a funny thing to say in a country where roads consist mostly of holes and nobody cares about the environment…

Flashforward through a litany of curses and we’re already rolling along the curvy roads leading to Yerevan; we run so fast that we have to experience close encounters with local police. However, Bartek is a pro and he…

The last spot during our Mtscheta tour – Djuari, overlooking the town set at the foot of picturesque hills… And we’re off to Tbilisi where we are glad to find a real tourist information centre with English spoken. Oh goodie! After asking all possible questions we check in two different hostels – Bartek chooses the comfort (Rover hostel), we head for Green Stairs hostel – nice and quaint place to stay when you’re on tight budget.

I spend my days in Tbilisi continuing the photo competition with Magdalena nad my evenings are full of Georgian kebab and chachapuri.

We wave Chris (who became Krzysiek in the meantime) goodbye as he hops on the bus to Turkey (our friend arrives late but the Turks are kind enough to wait).

We lose Chris but we Gain Ewa and Staszek, two students in fine arts.

***

Ostatni punkt do odhaczenia w Mtschecie – Dżwari, a tam widok na panoramę Mtschety i gruziński ślub……

Heavy rain during the night made us leave the place late – we had to dry our tents…

The weirdest museum in the world is to be found in Gori. An impressive palace in city centre hosts an exhibition documenting and glorifying the most famous Georgian person in whole history – Joseph Vissarionowich Stalin. And let there never be anyone to break his record in genocide achievements… We don’t bother to pay the entrance, seeing the place from a distance is quite enough for us. We only have a look at the luxury train coach used by Stalin and the house where he was born – transported and built into the square in front of the museum. Shockingly tu us, the cult of the Great Leader still exists in Gori and the locals always propose a toast to his memory…

We trade surreal Gori for spiritual Mtscheta. We start with Samtavro monastery where a service is being held. Quiet angel…

From heights we come down to flats and to roads not completely filled with holes. We arrive at Gelati and its monastery, founded in 1106 by king David the Builder. Part from cult purposes, the monastery was used as academy and place for burying the kings. Countless saints glaring at us and silent murmuring by monks create quite an atmosphere…

We put up our camping a couple of meters away from monastery walls, trying hard to avoid excrements manufactured by cows strolling just everywhere, including the cemetery.

***

Z gór wysokich przemieszczamy się ku bardziej płaskim terenom i mniej dziurawym drogom. Docieramy do Gelati i jego monastyru, ufundowanego 1106 r. przez króla Dawida Budowniczego. Oprócz funkcji związanych z kultem, monastyr służył również m.in. jako akademia i miejsce pochówku królów. Święci łypiący z niezliczonej ilości fresków i tajemnicze mamrotanie mnichów wieczorową porą wprowadzają w szczególny nastrój…

Rozbijamy obozowisko parę metrów od murów monastyru, nieźle się gimnastykując celem uniknięcia władowania się w…

The road to Svanetia region was not easy at all – our favourite driver, Bartek (he wouldn’t let anyone else drive the car in those difficult conditions) went on cursing for quite some time because of all the holes, puddles, stupid cows and speeding mad drivers…

But the views we got to see in Mestia made up for all of that… Mountains, glaciers and the famous Svanetia towers (many of them built in 9-12th century) used as a hideout during vendetta activities popular in these parts… Extra tourist attraction, after reaching the Chalaadi glacier, was William Osgood Field, American traveler and photographer who documented this area in 1920s, incarnated by one Georgian actor shooting a documentary. The film crew treated us to a little bit of chacha whose alcohol content is somewhere 40 and 70%…

Another odd thing: before reaching Svanetia, we lost our way and entered Abkhazia, where it is not allowed to entered due to political situation. But…