Friday, 14 August 2015

Kazbegi - Gori - Tblisi

The next day I drove to Stepantsminda or Kazbegi as practically everyone calls it including the minibuses. It's only 15kms from the Russian border and there were lots of Russian cars on the road. They were even more suicidal than the locals. I saw one that had just gone over the edge, fortunately for them not at a place where there was a big drop.

The draw at Kazbegi is the Gergheti Trinity church. It sits on top of a mountain. Back in the Soviet days, the government built a cable car but the locals complained it ruined their special place so they just demolished it. You can still see the remains of the cable car station in town.

You can take a 4wd taxi up there but I decide to walk. I parked my car for 5 lari in a car park and set up the path at the end that went up the hill. There's a steep and no so steep path. This was the less steep but was still reasonably hard work and it was a warm morning. At the summit there were hoards of tourists though they all left shortly and the place was more tranquil. I looked at the steep path down but it seemed risky in my crappy shoes so I went back the way I'd come.

There's not a lot else in the town. Some restaurants and a museum which only cost 3 lari but still wasn't really worth it. Then I headed back to Gudauri. There were a couple of sets of roadworks on the way, one of which was single lane and the police had stopped the traffic the other way in a huge queue which looked like it had been there a while.

Then it was back to the supermarket in Gudauri for some supplies. They have a bakery which is a good option for breakfast with various pastries and breads containing meat and cheese. There's also a couple of ATMs in there. That night,I ate in. The only restaurant that seemed to be open again.
Next morning,I headed off to Gori. It's the birthplace of Stalin and I visited the museum and saw the most tourists I'd seen the whole trip. At 15 lari, it was quite expensive by local standards and I found it underwhelming. It was mostly photos and lots of text transcripts but they were all in Russian so it meant little to me. There's also Gori fortress.

Eating out that night was less than successful. I ordered by pointing at a picture on the menu, then sat for 15 mins next to a dead pot plant before the food arrived and then my beer came last. And the food seemed to be mostly salad which certainly wasn't what I ordered. Still at least it came with the usual mountain of bread so I didn't go hungry.

Next morning I drove to the prehistoric cave city at Uplistsikhe. It was only 3 lari to get in and the caves are impressively extensive.

Then it was the drive back to Tbilisi which easier than getting out of it because I was coming from the west. I had to pay 15 lari to have the car washed which is a con as there is nowhere you can get a car washed. They tried to claim I'd used 6 litres of fuel in the 11kms since I'd filled up but eventually I got my full deposit back.

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