Welcome to the Common Sense and Whiskey Companion:
The Southern Caucasus.
Here are some photos from Common Sense and Whiskey, chapter 15, the Southern Caucasus. We took this trip in June, 2006.
You can buy professional prints of most of these photos in the Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia Galleries.
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Or, go back to Chapter 14: Malawi
Nice, warm feeling heading straight in between Grozny and Baghdad.
The flight to Yerevan arrived a little before dawn, and straight from the airport we cruised down a four lane split highway to Khor Virap Monastery, about 30 kilometers south of town. It was closed when we arrived. We served ourselves up as breakfast for mobs of mosquitoes. Levon made us understand that the fourth parallel road out that way was in Turkiye, as was Mt. Ararat, which towered beyond.
Newlyweds, preceded by a car video-taping their antics, stood through the sunroof in their limousine, as they took a few spins around Republic Square in the center of the capital. This is the Armenian Foreign Ministry, on one side of the square.
Republic Square, Yerevan, Armenia.
Leaving Yerevan you’ll see a cloister, the zoo, a big water park with curvy slides, the statue to Saint Mesrop Mashtots, inventor of the Armenian alphabet, and the engineering and medical institutes. And this Ferris wheel.
At the Lake Sevan monastery. men sang traditional songs or played stringed instruments for tips, and quit immediately as you walked past. Welcome.
These are khachkars at the Sevan Monastery. They're intricately carved monuments that serve as memorials. Noune said the Turks claimed they were a Turkish invention, even though Turks and Armenians don't share a religion. Bad blood, there.
Lake Sevan, at 1900 meters (6200 feet), it’s the world’s highest alpine lake.
Levon and Lake Sevan, Armenia.
Road sign in three languages on the road north between Yerevan, Armenia and Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia.
Men stood outside shipping containers by the roadway. They walked toward the Volga as we approached and pointed the index fingers of both hands at the car, arms held a certain distance apart. They were selling fresh lake fish, advertising them as, “this big.”
Georgia's "color revolution" was called the "rose revolution," and took place in November 2003. This billboard celebrates the revolution, with rose and national flag, in downtown Tbilisi.
The Mtkvari River in Tbilisi.
Just across the bridge from which the previous photo was taken, in the first building on theright, these are the duduki musicians who played while men drank beer and ate khinkali, Georgian meat pastries.
The Mtkvari and Aragvi Rivers at the town of Mtskheta, the ancient capital of the Republic of Georgia. Three and a half hours after leaving Tbilisi we were still here, just fifteen kilometers outside the capital, our destination up by the Georgian border with Russia, ten kilometers from Chechnya.
It didn't take long until we found ourselves in the high Caucasus mountains. Here's a view from a lookout alongside the Georgia Military Highway.
We stopped to peer over a precipice – the verge of a steep defile, at 2395 meters, in intermittent ice fields, with streams and more lavender and yellow flowers. This is looking back the other way, at Zviadi,left, and Zaza.
Each end of Kazbegi’s main square comprised nothing much, with a road wandering off each way. This one is the road over the Caucasus mountains to Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, Russia, from Kazbegi, Republic of Georgia. Vladikavkaz is about 25 miles past the border.
"A dump truck-sized Kamaz lumbered by, an unlikely family vehicle that deposited a scarf-clad old woman with a basket down at the bottom of the hill." The family car, Kazbek, Republic of Georgia.
14th century Trinity Church (Tsminda Sameba) near Mt. Kazbek, Caucasus mountains, Republic of Georgia. We got a ride up in a red Lada Niva, and hiked back down.
Zaza, bless him, had hauled lunch up in that backpack, which included beer.
Entrance to 14th century Trinity Church (Tsminda Sameba) near Mt. Kazbegi, Caucasus mountains, Republic of Georgia. A young man with bright red tennis shoes up there was offended by the beers, so we retreated outside the church grounds and enjoyed lunch outside in the sunshine.
Fancy a kebab for lunch? Here's a kebab stand on the hike down to Kazbegi town. Regrettably, it appeared to be closed.
The Terek (Tergi) River on the way up to the Russian border.
Construction of the new customs/immigration border post at Georgia's border with North Ossetia, Russia.
Chris's driver, Bill & Chris.
14th century Trinity Church (Tsminda Sameba) and Mt. Kazbek (in clouds), Caucasus mountains, Republic of Georgia.
The cult of the Aliyevs, Azerbaijan. Former President Haidar Aliyev on a billboard in Baku. He was succeeded by his son.
Baku from the Maiden Tower.
Downtown Baku with the Ferris Wheel in the little amusement park.
Traders Street pedestrian mall, Baku.
Several photographs of the oil business on Artyom Island, Azerbaijan.
Truck on Pirallahi Island, Azerbaijan
" ... an old round bus gasped for air at the curb. It was blue and white, with blue curtains pulled completely shut in each of the four windows along the side. All the windows were surrounded with corrosion, and streaks of dried rust ran down the bus from the bottom of each window."
The wisdom of Haidar Aliyev.