Fantastical Mountains and Forests with a Touch of Stalin for Reality

Posted by Pat on September 22, 2018 in Travel |

21 September 2018

We retrace our miles south down the Military Road through sheep herds; following deep gorges, waterfalls and lakes; through the magnificent scenery of the Greater Caucasus as its trees begin to show their fall colors. Today we learn about a more somber time of history.

One should never forget history: the who, what, when and why. Sometimes there are no answers to why, but there are always lessons to be learned.  Read more…

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Up Georgia’s Military Road to Gudauri

Posted by Pat on September 20, 2018 in Travel |

19-20 September

The Georgian Military Highway wears an ominous name but, presently, is a scenic route that has linked Europe and Asia for centuries: seventy-five miles of twists and turns, sparkling lakes, waterfalls, mountain peaks, passes and stomach churning edges. I am expertly driven north along the historic Georgian Military Road which weaves from Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz, Russia. Traditionally the route of invaders and merchants, it now sees the passage of more skiers and tourists than conquering hoards. Read more…

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Tbilisi Georgia – Stories of Monks and Massacres

Posted by Pat on September 19, 2018 in Travel |

17-18 September 2018

Great salt lake and gusty plains of Alazani Valley

I weave eighty miles of up and down and up, endless around and around on sad roads within these Greater Caucasus. Our Georgian driver speeds us around pot holes, cows and the occasional slow driver. We cross over the Gombori Pass, our final peak at an altitude of just 5,315 feet, but the getting there is what sets my stomach on edge. Along our drive, I am distracted by the small quiet villages and panoramic views of the Alazani Valley, the beautiful waves of long grasses flowing in the gusty winds, and the white and gold salt lake of this high arid plain. Mother Nature has a way of soothing the tortured soul of God Vertigo. So do the Ginger pills I swallowed. Read more…

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Georgia – A Day of Wine and Song

Posted by Pat on September 17, 2018 in Travel |

16 September 2018

Sorry, but entering the country of Georgia, I have Ray Charles singing in my head. I’ve had worse jingles haunting my memories (like when I visited Bologna Italy and every time I think of Disneyland). I am told this part of Georgia is synonymous with wine. My kind of place! 

The route is spectacular. We are driving northwest through a large verdant valley and in the distance the Greater Caucasus dotted with state and national parklands. The route becomes more mountainous. We cross numerous dramatically wide, rocky riverbeds. A small stream trickles through but these gigantic riverbeds show all geologic indications of being dangerous, rushing, tumbling rivers in the spring.

Seventy miles inland, we cross the border from Azerbaijan into Georgia. Read more…

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Sheki – Republic of Azerbaijan

Posted by Pat on September 17, 2018 in Travel |

14-15 September 2018

Today is what busy travelers call a day of rest. We board a bus, greet our driver, strap into our seats, and just go along for the ride. These are days I love because I can relax, gaze at the countryside, observe village life, and see what Azerbaijan looks like outside its modern capital of Baku.

We drive northwest along “one of the most scenic routes in Azerbaijan.” (Actually, Google maps shows it is the only road.)  Read more…

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Baku – From Rock Art to Hell Fire

Posted by Pat on September 17, 2018 in Travel |

9-13  September 2018

Gobustan petroglyphs

The Absheron Peninsula has long been a coveted location. Jutting into the Caspian Sea, one flies into Heydar International over the largest inland sea on Earth. Its shores were home to not only early civilization, but the long dead organisms, fossils and marine life that produced immense deposits of fossil fuel. Azerbaijan: petroglyphs, Starbucks, Tiffany’s, beaches and crude oil – all in one spot.  

My friend Kathy and I have joined an Eldertrek tour to usher us about the Caucasus. Our first stop will be Gobustan National Park (UNESCO), just 38 miles southwest of Baku along the spectacular Caspian Sea. It is an interesting drive past countless oil wells, arid expanses of land, tall apartments built atop old oil pumping sites, and over an impressive highway system.  Read more…

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Baku Azerbaijan “The Windy City”

Posted by Pat on September 17, 2018 in Travel |

9-13 September 2018

The ‘Mad Hatter’ drives us from the Heydar Aliyev International Airport using wide avenues of multiple lanes, flashing his headlights to move others from our path. Government official or royal family? Actually, a Baku Grand Prix hopeful. The Baku City Circuit, a motor racing circuit constructed along these boulevards, is the second-longest circuit on the Formula One racing calendar. I think we are being treated to an example of ‘driving the circuit’.

Our little taxi careens and tailgates toward our hotel, certainly beating his previous land record. We exit our taxi in laughter of relief. This was our initiation into the insane driving of Baku. The Baku Grand Prix may run each April, but these wide, one-way streets appear designed more for a Ferrari than a Kia or Lada.

I have landed in Azerbaijan.  Read more…

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