You might have seen countless videos about travel photography tips here on Youtube. Most of them touch on more or less the same stuff, which is either fairly obvious or pretty banal.
The Caucasus region was meant to be a stop on my way to Mongolia. But, I stayed. Fell in love with Georgia. Came back, stayed longer. Fell in love with Armenia. Over the past three years I’ve been leaving – coming back, spending months at a time here.
Dramatic scenery. A sense of history, sometimes mystery. The friendliness of so many strangers I interacted with. These are the things that first come to mind when I remember my journey through Georgia and Armenia.
"Bakhmaro, that’s a place you have to go to. Go there! Remember the name." These were the words of my landlord and neighbour in Tbilisi. He saw my enthusiasm for traveling around Georgia and started remembering all the beautiful places around his country.
Considered the highest all-year-round inhabited settlement in Europe, Ushguli seats at about 2,100 metres above sea level. In every direction there are snow-clad mountain peaks, even during the middle of summer.
After years on the road I’ve realised – it's rare that a place is ever as good as everyone says it is. Even more rare that it exceeds what you heard. Georgia however has been one of those places.
"Those of us who fought in the war, we can’t ever go back. They’ve got our names in the system. If we come back, they’ll take us away. We’ve been living in this place for 24 years! What has the government done for us? They promise to finally resettle us into a new apartment block. We’ll see.”
An important industrial centre during Soviet times, today Rustavi’s industrial area is much more akin to a ghost town. I don’t remember where I heard about this strange, eerie place, but a friend and I decided to visit it the other day.
“We were out collecting grapes all day. Now all we have to do is press them and then we’ll have a nice get-together. I came back especially for you. Really! Come!”
A man by the sidewalk sells portraits of Soviet party leaders, flags with slogans, badges, WWII medals. A woman opposite lays out vases and silver cutlery. Next vendor has a rocking horse, a chair, a record of Stalin’s recordings from the 50s.
At long, long last I’m in Georgia! I meant to get here last year, but my Landy had some issues which were “fixed” in remote parts of Turkey. The incredible work of those mechanics meant that I had to fix what was “fixed” at an official Landrover workshop in Izmir...