Weekend Getaway to Georgia- Ananuri & Kazbegi

Georgia: Historical | Adventurous | Tranquil |Fresh home-made food paired with aromatic wine

While December, 2016 was quickly approaching with a long weekend, my family and I decided to cease this opportunity to travel together and take a break from our mundane life. With that said, I quickly pondered about various destinations; but had my mind fixed to experiencing something new and authentic! Apart from that, it was imperative for me to choose a destination that is pocket friendly since it was just a few days of getaway; a place that is closer to the country I live in – United Arab Emirates.

After much consideration, Georgia won! Besides just winning my choice; the people, food, tradition, nature, heritage and culture did not fail at winning my heart. I hate to say that the trip was terribly short for a place with immense beauty to admire and cherish. We could cover some of the important landmarks in the Eastern and North-Eastern part of Georgia. Having said that, I will absolutely visit Georgia once again to finish the rest of my journey there.

Before arriving to Georgia, we booked our local trips with a local tour agency called Tasty Georgia who have also got some really good reviews on TripAdvisor.

Places visited

Funicular Complex

Upon our arrival to Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, in the evening, we made our way to the hotel which was situated at the foothill of Mtatsminda plateau. Soon after we dropped our bags at the hotel, we quickly made our way to the Funicular Complex by taking the aerial tramway.  After a quick glance of the stunning night view of the city from around the Complex, we could not wait to try the Georgian food; so we head to have our dinner at a Traditional Georgian restaurant called Chela. The very sight of the restaurant was warmly appealing. We were welcomed by warm smiles into the cozy restaurant that melted our frozen bones from the chillness outside.

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A snap of the city view at night from Funicular Complex

Ananuri-Pasanuri-Kazbegi

Our next day began by meeting our amazing tour guide Sophio Bobokhidze and the driver from Tasty Georgia. Our tour planned for the day was to visit Ananuri Fortress Complex, Pasanuri and Kazbegi- Gergeti Trinity Church.

On our way to Ananuri, we crossed the old capital city of Georgia called Mtskheta. This city is renowned for its medieval monuments that are listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although, we did not stop here and was not part of our tour, I recommend those who wish to travel to Georgia visit this place at least once. Most part of road that leads to Ananuri is called the Georgian Military Highway. This highway passes the Caucasus from Georgia to Russia, precisely till Vladikavkaz in Russia.

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Georgian Military Highway

We made our first stop at the Ananuri Fortress Complex which was built in the 13th Century and remained as a Castle to the Dukes of Aragvi until the 19th century. It overlooks the river Aragvi. The castle is connected to two churches and is now considered as one of the beautiful churches in the country. You would also notice the locals selling souvenirs, mufflers, scarfs and even some refreshments in small stalls.

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Ananuri Fortress Complex overlooking the Aragvi River

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If you are a dog lover like me, you would notice a couple of them wagging their tails and walking towards you, do not worry they are extremely friendly. On that note, Georgia in general has so many dogs and are very friendly (man’s best friend after-all), just make sure you warm them with enough love before you leave! 🙂

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As we continued our journey on the military highway, we were awed by the beauty of mother nature. It began to snow lightly as we crossed Ananuri and the fog slowly engulfing the highlands and mountains. We soon made a quick stop at Pasanuri to watch the confluence of river Aragvi. The significance of river Aragvi is that the river flows in two different colors; white and black as it reunites as one. This is really mesmerizing. However, the color difference is vivid during the summers than in winters.

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Confluence of River Aragvi

We traversed across Gudauri, which is popularly known for its ski resorts complemented with well developed infrastructure for snow activities.  As we were approaching Kazbegi/ Stepantsminda, we were dumbstruck seeing either sides of the roads with snow-capped mountains while it was still snowing! It was truly a delight to our eyes.

Upon reaching the village of Stepantsminda, we met with another local driver, who lives in the same village, to drive us up to the Gergeti Trinity Church. At this spot we changed our car. Please note that this might be mandatory, as we were informed by our tour guide that the locals are professionals to drive us up the mountain. Especially when it is snowing or raining. The path up the mountain can be slippery and dangerous to drive for unprofessional drivers. But when the weather is perfect, you can even hike the mountain, provided you are that very physically fit!

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Stop at Stepantsminda to change our car
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Driving up the Mountain- bumpy trail

The drive up the mountain was quite bumpy as large amount of snow had blocked our paths but it was real FUN! If you have experienced desert safari then imagine snow safari especially while climbing up the hill! To our surprise, mainly to Sophie and our driver, the entire path was blocked by a mini avalanche that had occurred few minutes before we arrived to that spot.  This could have been about one and a half to two kilometers from the Gergeti Trinity Church. This mountain is at an elevation of 2170 meters and looks up to Mt. Kazbegi which is at an elevation of 5,033 meters. Our very ebullient guide suggested that we would walk the path as the car would not go any further. At -3 degree Celsius, with the beginning of moderately heavy snow fall and winds gushing as if like a storm’s about to occur, we had to make our decision. And Voila! Who would say no and head back down when this could be a mini expedition which we could then narrate to our grandchildren in the future? So it was just the four of us, including Sophie in this vast barren snowy mountain, who braced ourselves and marched our way forward. Because of heavy snow and sometimes the massive surge of wind, the visibility worsened. Due to that we slipped, fell, skid to all directions. But it was truly worth it all. For my family and me, where rain is a luxury in Dubai, having experienced this was pure haven and an adventure of a life time for sure, just as Coldplay would call it! But truly, I must offer a HUGE thank you to Sophie and a small group of Polish hikers who suddenly appeared from nowhere to help us stand on our feet. 🙂

And with that my friends, I end my journey in Kazbegi and will let you enjoy the pictures from this day’s trip.

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The Backdrop of Mt. Kazbek covered by snowfall and fog
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Do you see the distance from the trees on the right?  That’s where our car was parked. At this point, we had not covered even half the distance to the church.

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It feels great sharing my experience with you all as I could cherish every moment spent in Georgia! Stay tuned as I would be sharing my experience in the magnificent Uplistsikhe , Gori and Borjomi soon.

Have you guys experienced anything thrilling on your journey to a different country? What was it like? Share your experiences down in the comment below! I am eager to read them!


Please note, all the above pictures have been taken and edited further by me entirely for the blog. Any resemblance or similarities are not intentional and is purely coincidental. If you wish to use them for any commercial purpose, please email me at slakshana06@gmail.com

 
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