Aug 132011

Now, before I start this segment there are three things I must confess.

1)  Those of you expecting a fabulous business class report are going to be sorely disappointed.  Not only is this “European Business Class” it is all on ERJs!

2)  I don’t do redeyes or early morning flights.  Matt REALLY doesn’t do redeyes or early morning flights.  Our flight was set to depart Yerevan at 5:45am.  Yes, this would be lots of fun, and I admit I fudged a bit.  “Oh, it’s early, before 7, like 6 something I think?”

3)  Neither of us had flown LOT, so I was kinda excited, Euro business or not, for this.  Though, EVN-WAW-LHR-IAD was going to make for a very very long day.

So that said, on with the show!  We’d made it to bed somewhat early, but the room was a bit warm and wouldn’t cool down much, so I’m not sure how much sleep we really got.  Alarm was set for something like 3:45 if I recall directly, which was a nightmare not to be repeated….at least until next month. Continue reading »

Aug 122011

This one might get kind of long – you’ve been warned!

After waking up, we headed up to the top floor of the Sheraton Tbilisi for the breakfast buffet which was included…and huge!  Lots of fresh local fruit – apricots, cherries, etc, and all perfectly in season.  Combined with other food, it was enough to fuel a long morning of walking around Tbilisi.

Headed out of the hotel, and the first stop was the Holy Trinity Cathedral.  Built in 2002, this is one of the largest Orthodox Churches in the world.  We were lucky that being Sunday, there was a service going on.  Despite studying in the USSR years ago, I’d never been to an Orthodox church service, and certainly not a Georgian Orthodox one.  It was fascinating to me to spend time in there, and in retrospect I wish we’d stayed a bit longer.  It was just one of those really authentic local moments that I really enjoy when traveling.

After the Cathedral we made our way down to the river, across a bridge, and took a view up the hill/mountain on the south side of the city.  We wandered through Old Tbilisi, and took a look up the hill towards Narkala Fortress which we planned to visit after lunch. Continue reading »

Jul 072011

Ok, so first of all, I lied. There, I admit it. I hadn’t planned another trip so soon after the Svalbard adventure, but with a very long weekend in honour of kicking King George out of the country, I decided it was time to check off a few more countries.

Playing around with schedules a bit, I decided to fly into Baku, Azerbaijan (GYD) and back from Yerevan, Armenia (EVN). Sounded like a good plan for a very long weekend, and would allow me to check off two more countries. Just one small problem…I neglected to check how easy it would be to get between them.

Very atypical for me…see, there’s a small problem. These two countries (while not actively shooting at each other at the moment) are still technically at war with each other, and the border is closed. Great. Oh well, I did what any (in)sane country collector would do: traveled between them via a third country! So, in the end, it ended up being three countries in five days, #92, #93, and #94 on my list.

Tickets booked, drivers and hotels set, and it was time to head off! Of course, there’s also a fair amount of drama in this trip, and unfortunately it was worse than the two trips above. When you pack so much into a very tight timeframe, there’s very little room for error should things go tits up, which unfortunately this trip did in a very ugly way. At least I’m trying to get most of the drama out of the way before the big trip in a few more weeks.