Sno-Valley / Sno-Tal

There's a little castle in Sno valley, built in the 16-17th century AD with round walls on a natural rock. (See photos below.) The valley follows river Tergi to Juta, 2150m above sea level. All paths from here are for hikers and horse-riders only.

Most prominent son of the village of Sno is Patriarch Ilja II. 

Im Sno-Tal gibt es eine kleine Burg aus dem 16./17. Jhdt. n.Chr., erbaut mit runden Mauern auf einer natürlichen, felsigen Erhebung (Photos s.u.). Das Tal folgt dem Fluss Tergi nach Juta, 2150m über NN. Alle Pfade von hier sind Wanderern und Reitern vorbehalten.

Der wohl bekannteste Sohn des Ortes Sno ist Patriarch Ilja II.

Sno seen from the West / Sno von Westen gesehen

Sno castle/ Burg Sno

Tergi river / Fluss Tergi

The sno-valley can be found easily. Just follow the Georgian military highway. Four or five kilometers south of Stepanzminda / Kasbegi leave the "highway" into the village of Achkhoti, then simply follow the road into the sno-valley. The path, which can be taken by normal passenger cars in good weather, although a 4x4 will be better suited, will turn northeast after ca. 10km and reach Juta after another 5km. Plan  with 45-60 min. for the drive or 4,5 h of walking for 15km. There's a camping place near Juta.

Das Sno-Tal ist leicht zu finden. Folgen Sie der Georgischen Heerstraße bis etwa 4-5km südlich von Stepansminda (Kasbegi) zum Ort Archoti. Dort folgen Sie der "Hauptstraße" ins Sno-Tal. Der Feldweg, der bei gutem Wetter auch von normalen Pkw befahren werden kann, wenngleich man ein geländegängiges Fahrzeug bevorzugen wird, wendet sich nach ca. 10km Richtung Nordwesten und erreicht nach weiteren 5 km Dschuta. Planen Sie 45-60min. für eine Fahrt mit dem Auto und 4,5-5 Std. für die Wanderung ein. Bei Dschuta gibt es einen Camping-Platz.

1thingtodo hat weitere Informationen über das Sno-Tal.

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Der Artikel "Eine herrenlose Rakete"

erschienen in Telepolis vom 22.8.07, schildert den jüngsten Konflikt zwischen Georgien und Russland und bettet ihn in die jüngere Geschichte ein. Unbedingt lesenswert!

Hier klicken...

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Summertime in Gremi / Sommer in Gremi

North Germany is cold, rainy, windy - (almost) no sign of spring yet.
This picture of Gremi (province of Kakheti) gives a little warmth. It was shot in July 2005 and - yes, it was hot there!

Oh, by the way: Thanks for visiting caucasus-pictures. There´ve been more than 7000 visitors by now!


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Selling sunflower-seeds

Seen near Marneuli in 1997 - a picture of poverty. Pensioneers received 12 Lari a month which was about 12 German marks. That was hardly "enough" to buy one loaf of bread a day.
In 2007, pensioneers get around 50 Lari. Still by far not enough to live a decent life.

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Muse at Tbilisis Philharmonia

(The old lady was selling sunflower-seeds.)

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The Black Sea IS black!

Well, sometimes it is. Don´t believe me? Watch this:

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Old cinema, Telavi / Altes Kino, Telavi

Der Vorraum des alten Kinos wurde in den letzten Jahren durch eine Ballett-Schule genutzt. Nun soll daraus wieder ein Kino werden - so der letzte Stand meiner Informationen. Meine Freunde Gotscha und Ulrich planten schon, da hörten wir, dass das Gebäude verkauft ist.
Hier ein paar Aufnahmen vom Sommer 2005. Wie man sieht, ist es ziemlich verwahrlost, bietet aber unter denkmalpflegerischer Hinsicht viel Erhaltenswertes. Und wo findet man noch dieses Ambiente eines alten Lichtspielhauses?

Die Bilder vom Inneren wurden übrigens mit ISO 3600 gemacht. Ich bitte die Qualität zu entschuldigen.

The entrance-hall of the old cinema was used by a ballet-school during the last years. Now it´s going to become a cinema again (as far as I´m informed). My friends Gotscha and Ulrich already made plans, when we heard the building was sold. These are pictures of 2005. As you can see, the building is in a bad shape, but a lot of original elements were preserved. And where else can you still find this athmosphere of an old cinematograph?

Note that the photos from the inside were shot with ISO 3600 - so please excuse the quality.

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Horse- and donkey-carts in Georgia

No need for further explaination, I guess. ;-)

Hay crop in Kakheti / Heuernte in Kachetien, originally uploaded by Henning(i).

Horse-cart in Kakheti / Pferde-Karren in Kachetien, originally uploaded by Henning(i).

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Tal der Georgischen Heerstraße - nicht nur für Mitglieder des Minolta-Forums ;-)

Tal der georgischen Heerstraße, Blick Richtung Norden.
Valley of the georgian military highway, looking to the north.

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რუსთავი / Rustavi / Rustawi

English Wikipedia has a short history of Rustavi (a city about 30 km to the south of Tbilisi):

"The city was founded in 1948 to house the workforce of a nearby metallurgical plant, constructed in 1941-1950 to process iron ore from nearby Azerbaijan. Stalin brought workers from various regions in Georgia, specifically from the rural poorer provinces of Western Georgia. It took its name from a nearby ancient town... Rustavi became a key industrial centre for the Transcaucasus region. The main industries are iron and steel milling and the manufacture of metal products and chemicals.

German POWs who were captured in World War II were enlisted to design and build Old Rustavi. Rustavi is actually divided into two parts--Dzveli Rustavi (Old Rustavi) and Akhali Rustavi (New Rustavi). Old Rustavi adheres to Stalinist architectural style..."(The old part of Rustavi. Houses are supposed to still offer superior quality. In German, we call this type of architecture "Zuckerbäckerstil" = "Sugarbaker-stile", in English it is "Stalin Empire". Other examples can be found in East-Berlin on Karl-Marx-Allee or Warsaw, Palace of Culture. If you want to know more about this style, you might want to read this article on Wikipedia about Soviet architecture.)

"... while New Rustavi is dominated by a multitude of seemingly endless stretch of depressing Soviet era block apartments."

(Well, have a look at this video which I took in summer 2003. Please excuse the quality, it is largely due to the fact that I was filming and driving at the same time.)

"The fall of the Soviet Union in 1999 proved disastrous for Rustavi, as it also caused the collapse of the integrated Soviet economy on which the city depended. Today, most of its industrial plants have been shut down..."(See the cows grazing? This picture is from 1998 or 1999)

"...and 65% of the city's population is unemployed, with all of the attendant social problems of high crime and acute poverty that such a situation brings. The population shrank from 160,000 in the mid-1990s as residents moved elsewhere in search of work."

This picture says it all. It is one of my favorite b/w-pictures:

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I took this photo along the main road from Tbilisi to Telavi. As you can see, quite many trees were cut down for making fire-wood. Energy is expensive and there is little of what one could call "ecological conscience".

In the mountains, the result of massive logging can be seen frequently - as on the following picture:

Georgian military highway near Gudauri

Especially during the early 90s, a high number of trees were cut down illegally. There is an interesting report of 1999 by the NGO "Grid" (based in Tbilisi) showing the increase of CO2-emissions in Georgia due to illegal deforestation and the decrease of forest planting and sowing in the `90s. The Georgian Ministry of Environment estimated the total amount of logging to be as high as 2.5 million m³ in 1996. This number seems to be heavily disputed though, as other sources speak of around 50.000 m³ "only". As with all illegal activities, it is impossible to calculate exact figures.

In 1996 40% of Georgia were still covered by forests, but illegal wood-cutting continues to pose a serious threat to the biodiversity of the Caucasus, as the WWF reports. With corruption beeing endemic, one can be sure that officials had and still have their share in illegal exports. (I remember seeing a drug-addict punshing the needle into his venes in the georgian border-post to Azerbaijan in 1998. Everybody knew one could by heroin there, so what else would you expect?)
The Georgian Times reports on illegal wood-export from Abkhazia by Turkish business-men. Since the rose revolution, the Georgian government takes a tougher stand on smuggling over the Black Sea, though.
So how about today? Well, I couldn´t find information about illegal timber-export since the rose-revolution. I suppose the amount has decreased but still poses a threat to the Caucasus flora.

Back to the picture above: The erosion which you can see was caused by wood-cutting. People pulled tree-trunks down the mountain slopes. Rain and snow did the rest.

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Rustavi - collecting firewood / Rustawi - Feuerholzsammler, Republic of

I remember this time of the year (end of Jan., beginning of Feb.) in 1997, when we were living in Telavi. The wind was lousy and cold, in march we had high snow (1m).
So what did we heat with? We had a "petchi", an oven made of tin, the same as used throughout the year for cooking. It has one hole on the top. The advantage for cooking is, that you can adjust the heat rather easily, the big disadvantage for heating, that the thin metal didn´t store the heat (for the picture, see this page). Into this oven we lay a large iron hook with many holes, which was connected with the gas-line by a thick black rubber hose.
Then, in February, the Russians cut the gas-pipeline off saying bills hadn´t be paid by Georgia. So I had to buy wood in the center. Wood, that we had to carry up onto the 3rd floor ourselfes (a whole load of a horse-cart!) only to find out it was still damn wet. So when we left the appartement in March, we had a hard time cleaning everything from black grease that had stuck to closets, ceilings, furniture and so on...

These people (grandparents and grandchildren) obviously didn´t have money for fire-wood. I met them near the street (in the back) that links the old part of Rustavi with the new one.

In the next posts I will show you which effects this wild wood-cutting had and still has.

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In Georgien findet man sie an allen größeren Straßen: die Reifenwerkstätten, die die Folgen schlechter Straßen beseitigen helfen. Denn Platten und eingedellte Felgen sind beileibe keine Seltenheit. Das folgende Bild meines Passat (ach ja... ;-) habe ich ca. 1998 am Tbilisier Meer gemacht:

Mancherorts sind die (Überland-)Straßen seitdem besser geworden; aber die Seitenstraßen, auch die von Tbilisi, sind immer noch eine Katastrophe.
Während in Westeuropa fast ausschließlich schlauchlose Reifen gefahren werden, fahren Georgier die selben Reifen meistens mit Schlauch. Sonst müsste man jedes Mal den zerstochenen Reifen wegwerfen, und das wäre zu teuer. Ich selbst bin ebenfalls mit meinem Passat jahrelang auf nachträglich eingezogenen Schläuchen gefahren und habe damit kein Problem gehat. Technisch versierte Autofreaks können mir ja mal verraten, warum das Einziehen von Schläuchen in Deutschland verboten ist. Nun ja, in Georgien fährt mal vielleicht mal 130 km/h (was allerdings auch nicht erlaubt ist), möglicherweise auch 140 km/h - aber für mehr gibt es einfach keine Strecken.

So, und hier nun das Video über eine Reifenwerkstatt in Tbilisi (Wake). Die Stimme des Interviewers ist meine, die Übersetzerin ist meine Frau Tamriko.

I´ve found another picture of a bad road - the Georgian military road, by the way. It is the main route from Vladicavcas to Tbilisi and further on to Armenia.

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New flickr-group "Kachetien / Kakheti" --- Neue Flickr-Gruppe "Kachetien / Kakheti"

A few days ago, I started a new group on flickr. Here are some fabulous pictures:

Tamada at the Deathday Party, Kakheti region თელავი, originally uploaded by maykal.

High...Near the sky..., originally uploaded by makunia.

Gremi, originally uploaded by k e t i.

niza.jpg, originally uploaded by grijsz.

Dzveli (Old) Shuamta, originally uploaded by Paata.

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Waterbuffaloes in Kakheti / Wasserbüffel in Kachetien

Wasserbüffel habe ich nur in Kachetine gesehen; ob es in anderen Landesteilen welche gibt bekannt. Vielerorts fehlen wohl die Voraussetzungen für die Haltung dieser Tiere. Wie man auf dem Bild oben sieht, sind sie aber offensichtlich gut an die winterlichen Temperaturen im Flachland angepasst. (Das Bild wurde am Fuße des Kaukasus "hinter Achmeta" aufgenommen.)

Wasserbüffel bieten im Vergleich zu Kühen zwei Vorteile für den Menschen: Die Milche ist fettreicher, weist aber einen deutlich niedrigeren Cholesteringehalt auf. (Daraus wird der beste "Mazoni" - Georg. für Joghurt - gemacht. Ich esse in Telavi gern eine große Tasse möglichst kalten Wasserbüffel-Mazoni mit einem flach gestrichenen Teelöffel Zucker zum Frühstück. In Tbilisi ist es dagegen eher schwierig Wasserbüffel-Mazoni zu bekommen.)

Die Tiere sind im Allgemeinen sehr friedlich. In Georgien gibt es ausschließlich domestizierte Wasserbüffel, doch wie man auf dem Bild sieht, lässt man sie auch allein umher ziehen, denn sie finden den Weg nach Hause allein. Darum geben die Bauern gerne Rinderherden eine Wasserbüffelkuh mit, die die Herde allein nach Hause führen kann.

Ich mag diese urtümlich aussehenden Geschöpfe sehr.

Es gibt eine Stelle zwischen Telavi und Gremi, etwa halbe Strecke, wo man oft Wasserbüffel sieht. Hier sah ich auch den Hirten mit seiner Herde:

Im Sommer 2003 hatte ich eine Videokamera dabei. Hier ein kurzer Clip von wiederkäuenden Wasserbüffeln, die an der Straße zwischen Telavi und Gremi im Schatten lagen:

Übrigens: Wasserbüffel wühlen im Schlamm um sich vor (Blut saugenden) Insekten zu schützen.

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ბოლნისი / Bolnisi / Bolnissi / Ex-"Katharinenfeld"

I took the following pictures in 1998 or 1999. When I asked the lady of the picture above if the house was german, she said: "No, this is mine."
Well, both was true.
The pictures show houses and people of Bolnisi and near-by villages. (I´m not sure about the exact locations.) Bolnisi had once been a German colony (named after Katharina the Great, who had invited colonists from the south-west of Germany, Swabia). Under Stalin, almost all of its German inhabitants were deported to Central Asia, only those married to Georgians were spared. Only very few came back.
Here´s the article on german colonists in the caucasus at wikipedia.

Die folgenden Bilder stammen aus 1998 oder 1998. Als ich die Frau auf dem Bild oben fragte, ob dies ein deutsches Haus sei, antwortete sie: "Nein, das ist mein Haus." Nun ja, beides wäre wahr gewesen. Die Bilder zeigen Häuser in Bolnisi und den nahe gelegenen Dörfern. (So genau weiß ich das nicht mehr.) Bolnisi war einst eine dt. Kolonie (benannt nach der Zarin Katharina der Großen, die schwäbische Siedler ins Land gerufen hatte). Unter Stalin wurden fast alle deutschen Einwohner, mit Ausnahmer solcher, die mit Georgiern verheiratet waren, nach Zentral-Asien verbannt. Nur sehr wenige sind zurück gekommen. Hier gibt´s einen Artikel über deutsche Siedler im Kaukasus bei Wikipedia.

Dorfbewohner / Peasants, Republic of Georgia, originally uploaded by Henning(i).

Pferdekarrren bei Bolnisi / Horse-cart near Bolnisi, Republic of Georgia, originally uploaded by Henning(i).

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Wish-trees / Wunschbäume

This first picture was taken in Truso-valley and, yes, it´s the same as one the post before, just seen from the other side. You bet this is frequently visited... By the way, the Ossetians pray to the same patron (St. George) as the Georgians. I hope they will sometime be able to worship together again.
Dieses erste Bild zeigt - genau! - den selben Wunschbaum im Truso-Tal (wie im letzten Post), nur von der anderen Seite. Man sieht, es ist ein beliebter Ort... Übrigens beten die Osseten zum selben Schutzpatron (dem Hl. Georg) wie die Georgier. Ich hoffe, sie werden eines Tages wieder zusammenfinden.
The second picture shows another wish-tree in the zivi-mountains, province of Kakheti:
Das zweite Bild zeigt einen Wunschbaum im Zivigebirge (Provinz Kachetien):

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Happy New Year 2007/ Gutes Neues Jahr 2007!

Wish-tree in truso-valley / Wunschbaum im Truso-Tal

May your wishes become reality! / Mögen eure Wünsche in Erfüllung gehen!

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