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Republic of Georgia and Armenia, October-November 2010

Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia – 17th and 18th October 2010

Tony outside the Philharmonic Hall. The statue in the background is of a muse holding theatre masks.Tony outside the Philharmonic Hall. The statue in the background is of a muse holding theatre masks. 17th October 2010.

Fountains in front of the Philharmonic Hall.Fountains in front of the Philharmonic Hall.

Tony walking along Rustaveli Avenue. The wall on the right may be part of the former city wall and defences.Tony walking along Rustaveli Avenue. The wall on the right may be part of the former city wall and defences.

Tony by a fountain in Rustaveli Square.Tony by a fountain in Rustaveli Square.

Tony touching a small bronze statue.Tony touching a small bronze statue. This is one of many modern artworks on the main street of Rustaveli Avenue. Tony: Sandra my friend from New York is taking the photos. I met her and Aaron her husband on a street in Turkey.

Statue of a man playing the saxophone. Another modern artwork on Rustaveli Avenue.Man playing the saxophone. Another modern artwork on Rustaveli Avenue.

More Information about Rustaveli Avenue, the main street in central Tbilisi. Tony is seen walking along here in the previous photos.

The street is named after Shota Rustaveli, a Georgian medieval poet. The avenue runs from Freedom Square, which I’m told is circular, and extends for about 1 mile (1.5 km) in length before it turns into an extension of Kostavas Street. My walk began on Kostavas Street and ended at Freedom square. The small bronze figures run along both sides of Rustaveli Avenue and come in all shapes and sizes. They generally begin after the McDonald’s in Rustaveli square and the second fountain you see me by. Freedom Square is just after the House of Government. After this point, roads turn left into the medieval Marikala district of the city, which the wall in photo 3 is part of.

Buildings that run along or near Rustaveli Avenue include: parliament of Georgia, Kashveti Church, part of the National Georgia Museum, Tbilisi Opera and Ballet and Rustaveli theatres, amongst others. This avenue was built in the 19th century. The avenue seems to change its name after the Shota Rustaveli Monument – at least for the locals!

See website: http://tbilisiguide.ge/w/routes/route4.php

This is Tony outside Georgia's Parliament Building (House of Government) with the national flag of the Republic of Georgia.This is Tony outside Georgia’s Parliament Building (House of Government) with the national flag of the Republic of Georgia. Georgia’s Parliament declared independence from the Soviet Union in this building in 1991.

Another picture of Tony outside the parliament building.Another picture of Tony outside the parliament building.

Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi (commonly known as Sameba), is the main cathedral of the Georgian orthodox churchHoly Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi (commonly known as Sameba). This is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Constructed between 1995 and 2004, it is apparently the third tallest east orthodox church in the world. You need to take a taxi from downtown or a long uphill walk. It commands good views over the city.

The door of Holy Trinity Cathedral.Tony: The door of the cathedral. Mass was occurring when I visited, hence no photos inside.

Tony at Sandra and Aaron's house.Tony: Taken in Sandra and Aaron’s lovely house where I stayed frequently during my journey in Georgia.

Tony at Sandra and Aaron's house.Tony at Sandra and Aaron’s house.

19th to 21st October – photos taken in and around Kazbegi, north Georgia, near the border with Russia

View of rocky mountainous landscape.View of rocky mountainous landscape. Taken from a small car driven by the owner of the guest house where Tony stayed.

Another view of the mountainous landscape.Another view of the landscape.

Taken on the lower slope of a mountain leading eventually to Mount Kazbegk. The building in the distance is Tsminda Sameba Church.Taken on the lower slope of a mountain leading eventually to Mount Kazbegk. The building in the distance is Tsminda Sameba Church. Photos show the area contains mainly dry dusty earth and rocks, several tiny villages. Photo taken about 3 km from Kazbegi Village. Kazbegi village is now called officially Stepantsminda, but the locals and many Georgians still refer to it as Kazbegi village.

Tony sitting on a wooden bench outside the guest house close to Kazbegi Village.Tony sitting on a wooden bench outside the guest house close to Kazbegi Village, in countryside, sound of cow heard in distance.

20th October, journey and hike up lower Mountain slopes to Tsminda Sameba Church

Tony beginning climb, snow peaked mountains including Mount Kazbek in backgroundTony beginning climb, snow peaked mountains including Mount Kazbek in background.

Tony by a stone cross outside Tsminda Sameba Church.Tony by a stone cross outside Tsminda Sameba Church, Kazbegi. The 14th century Holy Trinity church ‘Tsminda Sameba’ at 2200 metres above the northern town of Kazbegi is a symbol of Georgia.

Tony standing in a finely carved stone doorway at Tsminda Sameba Church.Tony standing in a finely carved stone doorway at Tsminda Sameba Church.

Tony in another doorway at Tsminda Sameba Church.Another doorway at Tsminda Sameba Church.

The stone outer church walls and a separate Bell Tower.The stone outer church walls and a separate Bell Tower. They have interesting decoration, one on the Bell Tower shows two dinosaurs!

The outer church walls and view of the surrounding Kuro mountains.The outer church walls and view of the surrounding Kuro mountains, the northern slope of the Caucasus Range, including Mount Kazbek.

Tsminda Sameba Church.Tsminda Sameba Church.

Still in Kazbegi area. A walk with a young local guide for the day along part of the Tergi River. Passed through woods and several rugged villages along the way.

Tony by Tergi River.Tony by Tergi River.

Tony by remains of a watch tower, Tsdo village.Tony by remains of a watch tower, Tsdo village.

Tony with part of the Tergi River Valley and river behind.Tony with part of the Tergi River Valley and river behind.

Tony by the fast flowing Tergi River, very cold water containing many minerals.Tony by the fast flowing Tergi River, very cold water containing many minerals.

Tony outside a small church in or near Kazbegi.Tony outside a small church in or near Kazbegi.

Carved wooden door into the church.Carved wooden door into the church.

Tony inside the church.Tony inside the church.

Tony stood in front of the base of a large watchtower in Kazbegi Village. These towers were used to watch for enemies in previous centuries.Tony stood in front of the base of a large watchtower in Kazbegi Village. These towers were used to watch for enemies in previous centuries.

23rd October – back in Tbilisi

Tony in a square filled with cars, in the old town, medieval Marikala District, Tbilisi.Tony in a square filled with cars, in the old town, medieval Marikala District, Tbilisi. Taken on a busy festival Sunday lunchtime.

Tony on a raised platform, medieval Marikala Fortess is in the background.Tony on a raised platform, medieval Marikala Fortess is in the background.

The KGB Bar, café in King Erekle Street, Old Town, Tbilisi.The KGB Bar, café in King Erekle Street, Old Town, Tbilisi.

Tony feeling up modern sculpture in a nice small park, Tbilisi.Tony feeling up modern sculpture in a nice small park, Tbilisi.

Tony by another sculpture.Tony by another sculpture.

Close-up of sculpture.Close-up of sculpture.

Tony eating dumpling shaped food called Khinkali in a restaurant in Tbilisi.Tony eating dumpling shaped food called Khinkali in a restaurant in Tbilisi with friend Aaran. Typical Georgian cuisine. These small hat-shaped dumplings contain beef and hot tomato flavoured source, they almost resemble English meat pies. The trick is to make a small hole in the side and suck out the juice before eating. Georgian men eat about 16 per meal and must not get any source on them.

Yerevan, capital of the Republic of Armenia – 2nd and 3rd November 2010

Tony on the walkway to St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral.Tony on the walkway to St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, Armenian orthodox church. Completed and consecrated in 2001.

Inside St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral.Inside St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral. It is the largest Armenian church in the world and one of the largest in the south Caucasus.

Altar inside St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral.Altar inside St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral.

Close-up of altar.Close-up of altar.

National Gallery of Armenia.National Gallery of Armenia. It is in front of Republic Square’s east side, there are dancing fountains.

Tony by Government House which holds the main offices of the Government of the Republic of Armenia.Tony by Government House which holds the main offices of the Government of the Republic of Armenia. This large building looks onto Republic Square from the north-east.

Government House again.Government House again.

Fountain Park, central Yerevan.Fountain Park, central Yerevan.

Tony sitting in Fountain Park.Tony sitting in Fountain Park.

Another view of Fountain Park, including a giant spider sculpture!Another view of Fountain Park, including a giant spider sculpture!

Tony at the bottom of The Cascade, central Yerevan.Tony at the bottom of The Cascade, central Yerevan. A monument first constructed in 1971.

Park and fountains at the bottom of The Cascade, central Yerevan.Park and fountains at the bottom of The Cascade, central Yerevan.

Park and fountains at the bottom of The Cascade.Park and fountains at the bottom of The Cascade.

Contemporary art museum, bottom of The Cascade.Contemporary art museum, bottom of The Cascade.

Outside the contemporary art museum.Outside the contemporary art museum.

Tony at the bottom of The Cascade.Tony at the bottom of The Cascade.

Tony by a tank of fish in a supermarket, taken in the evening in central Yerevan.Tony by a tank of fish in a supermarket, taken in the evening in central Yerevan.

4th November, ancient temple in the town of Garni, approximately 20 miles (32 km) south-east of Yerevan up a steep mountain.

Garni Temple, photo taken from a distance of a Peristyle Greeco-Roman temple in the Ionic order.Garni Temple, photo taken from a distance of a Peristyle Greeco-Roman temple in the Ionic order.

Tony at Garni Temple.Tony at Garni Temple.

4th November, Gighart Monastery, located 22 miles (35 km) east of Yerevan.

Tony at Gighart Monastery.Tony at Gighart Monastery.

View of a steep rocky, slightly misty, valley from Gighart Monastery.View of a steep rocky, slightly misty, valley from Gighart Monastery.

Tony outside Gighart Monastery church.Tony outside Gighart Monastery church.

Tony inside the main church at Gighart Monastery. Built in 1216.Tony inside the main church at Gighart Monastery. Built in 1216.

Inside the church.Inside the church.

Behind Tony, a view of the rocky landscape at Gighart Monastery.Behind Tony, a view of the rocky landscape at Gighart Monastery.

Countyard at Gighart Monastery.Countyard at Gighart Monastery.

Tony with a guard at the entrance to Gighart Monastery.Tony with a guard at the entrance to Gighart Monastery.

Tony sitting on a rock, misty valley behind. Gighart Monastery.Tony sitting on a rock, misty valley behind. Gighart Monastery.

Another view from Gighart Monastery.Another view from Gighart Monastery.

View inside church, location unknown.View inside church, location unknown.

Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia – 12th November 2010

Tony outside the large metal gates to a residential building.Tony outside the gates to a residential building. The building possibly contains the house of Sandra and Aaron with whom Tony stayed.

View through gate.View through gate.

View along a tree-lined residential street.View along a tree-lined residential street.

Buildings along the street.Buildings along the street.

View of balconies and brickwork.View of balconies and brickwork.

Neo-classical style building in Tbilisi.Neo-classical style building in Tbilisi.

View of wooden house through archway.View of wooden house through archway.

Decorative iron gate.Decorative iron gate.

Aaron and Sandra at a local Georgian restaurant.Aaron and Sandra at a local Georgian restaurant. Tony met them in Istanbul, Turkey and stayed with them in Tbilisi.

Tony and Italian man at restaurant.Tony and Italian man at restaurant.

Sandra and Matild from France outside the restaurant.Sandra and Matild from France outside the restaurant.

Tony, Matild and a lady from Iowa, USA.Right to left: Tony, Matild and a lady from Iowa, USA.