We’ve spend the night camping in the hills around Surami. (GPS: 42.021454, 43.541132)
Instead of taking the Rikoti tunnel (Toll) we took the old road over the Rikoti pass from Surami. We made a stop at the church of Ubisi. Just a little of the main road. The front exists of a gate tower and behind the church is also a separate three story bell tower.
Behind the walls of this church is a graveyard. The vegetation seems to be in control. When you look around you’ll also notice many of the graves have a big photograph.
It takes 1.5h to get from Ubisi Monastery to Kutaisi. The capital city of Imereti. We made a small walk in the City Garden. “A park full of trees where old men gather on benches”. I think my photo is the proof.
We got hungry and decided to have lunch at Delikatessen. A busy typical Georgian restaurant tat specialises in Khachapuri. Me and Lieven aren’t a big fan of Khachapuri after the overdose we had this day. Never was actually.
We returned to the car and drove to the city’s main tourist attraction. The Bagrat cathedral. It was written in my guidebook that unphotogenic scaffolding was used for the huge renovation works but when we arrived we noticed the renovation was finished.
It’s well worth walking around the cathedral. There are some ruins and a view on the river down in the valley.
Next on our planning are probably the most stunning monasteries of Georgia. One on each side of the Tskaltsitela River. The first one is Motsameta, spectacular situated on the edge of a cliff. It was over 40 degrees when we visited the monastery. The heat must have affected me since I didn’t took a photograph of its stunning location. You can still see the monastery from closer on the next photograph.
We stayed a while in the shade around the well where we could drink fresh water. Then we went to visit Gelati Monastery. The second monastery just outside Kutaisi.
We continued the road from Gelati Monastery to Racha region. A beautiful road through the forest. The picture shows a small part of the Tkibuli Reservoir.
Nikortsminda Cathedral is by far the greatest attraction in Racha. It a long ride from the Gelati Monastery, but does bring us closer to the Caucasus mountains again where we will visit Svaneti region. Although it’s not the recommended route to get to Svaneti, we would risk it and see where we get. So we arrived at Nikortsminda Cathedral just before dark.
On the main street we noticed some tourist signs pointing all in the same directions. (Tower, Walking route, water source) We took that direction to find a place to pitch our tent. First we walked there, to see if we could camp there or not. Once we found a good spot, we returned to get the car.
It was a lovely street, with children playing outside and friendly but curious eyes on us. I just wish I talked with them. It would have been an interesting conversation for sure.
But it was getting late, and we were both a little tired. Since we had a long drive waiting tomorrow, it was better for us to have some rest.