29 June 2006

Driving in Tbilisi

The Georgians say, you should wear that hat, that wear the people of the country you are going to live in. So after 10 years I changed my German driving into a Georgian driving, almost. A typical Georgian man is very relaxed and easy going, but that changes into the full opposite, when he is getting on the seat of his car. I am every day shouting and screaming, full stressed, into the ears of my co-drivers, with the excuse that I shout the same in Germany on German drivers, but still... I also must confess, that in my eyes the average driving of the Tbilisians improved a bit in the last 1 or 2 years, due to more Western cars (better breaks) and due to some more logical traffic management, wich is just in the beginning of development by the authorities as I know.

What I hate on driving in Tbilisi comes here, feel free to comment, if I am wrong, or if you have other experiences.

1. The ability or will to Foresight seems to be rather undeveloped. Typical is to speed up in a difficult and very possible dangerous traffic situation by speed of 90+ and use the breaks in the last possible moment.

2. Backwards driving for 100s of meters unaware of the possible conflicts provoking of the following traffic.

3. Overtaking other cars on the opposite lane is a must for every Tbilisian. But even cooler is to barricade the whole opposite traffic for my little advantage in front of the stoplight.

4. Most Tbilisians rather risk the life of their children, than protecting them with the seat belt.

5. Pedestrians are slow and weak, are uncool and crap and can be ignored. They should watch their steps.

6. Its cool to hit as many straydogs as possible.

7. Marshrutka-Drivers have always priority.

8. Defensive driving is for cowards, lets drive with a clumsy aggressive fun.

9. Red stoplights may sometimes be ingnored, depending on the drivers mood.

10. Arguments with other drivers are best solved in open boxing fights in the middle lane of the left embankment of river Mtkvari.

11. I teach my wife all the efforts of my aggressive driving experiences.

12. Driving teachers give their pupils the worst cars available (38-years old Shigulis from the first production cycle in 1968 are best), for that they feel how cool will be a 200 PS BMW in the future.

13. Never teach the use of the mirrors to the pupil, because not every car has mirrors, neither they are too important.

Relax Tbilisians ! Don't crash your expensive car ! Do not kill innocent others! Take your foot away from full gas ! Be a little more polite to the others !

Gia Chkhatarashvili at Goethe Institute Tbilisi

Photo: Gia Chkhatarashvili/ Goethe Institute Tbilisi

Thanks to the Goethe Institute Tbilisi and to its chief Uwe Rieken a wonderful photo project of the Georgian photographer Gia Chkhatarashvili on Georgian expats living in Germany was opened this afternoon. Some of the Georgians in Germany are famous, some living more or less ordinary lifes, but behind all of them are standing unordinary histories and biographies. Khvelas Kartvelebs Germaniaschi Gaumardschoss ! Gia Chkhatarishvili is today one of the best known Georgian photographers and got famous for his documentary photos of "Ushguli: A village at the Crossroads" Winner of Fiftycrows 2004.

The exhibition goes through July,29th.

27 June 2006

The thing with the numberplates

Georgians have a spleen with cars and one with numberplates. If you drive a big black BMW-735 then its cool to have a number like MAF-007 or even better BMW-735.
With Vova (See his marvellous images from Georgia here: http://flickr.com/photos/vshioshvili/) I had a short conversation on that. In earlier times one had to bribe to get a cool number plate, but for 1 or 2 years now, you can officially pay an amount of money (wich goes to the state budget) to get your singulary number, if it is not registered already by somebody else. Prices (the list I saw in Rustavi) rank between 400 and 1500 Lari ~ 220 to 830 USD. Now what are cool combinations:

1. the first three letters are short for the name of the driver f.e. GIA for Gia; GIO for Giorgi, ZAZ for Zaza or DAT for Dato.

2. the first three letters stand for the wife or mistress of the driver f.e. TAT for Tatia; NON for Nona; or EKA for Ekaterina.

3. Other strange combination are: FBI, SOS, TOT (German for "dead") or TOD (German for "Death"), cool are of course three in a row like XXX or FFF.

4. In Shevardnadze-times all cars with special rights, like the cars from parlamentarians had the AAA, wich meant they never got stopped by the police. So AAA is still a very cool number. A friend of mine, who got for his car much later the AAA-107 gets quite often asked by other Georgians, if he would sell them his number. They easily offered 200 USD and more.

5. But today I saw a really cool number, and turned my car around to photograph it. I guess that number was more expensive than the car...

26 June 2006

A horse

Rob, Roshka, Sorba, Pele, Mtirala

Along the roads in Khevsureti one can see the holy springs remembering beloved family members. Drinking from the water remembers them. Rob, a writer for the Bradt Travel Guide, tastes the cold water near Barissakho.

View to village Roshka on 2050 m

In Roshka

Sorba, the dog of Ivane Tsiklauri, Roshka

Pele, the son of Gogi Tsiklauri, Roshka

A new National Park was established on June 25th and approved by President Saakashvili in the Western part of the Lesser Caucasus Range near the Black Sea Coast: Mtirala National Park more Information here: http://www.panda.org/news_facts/newsroom/index.cfm?uNewsID=73660

24 June 2006

Some of my Caucasus related Drawings

Tusheti, 2005

Eternity, 2001

Pankisi Valley, 2003

Talk at the Pass, 2003

Conny, 2005

Heaven with herde, 2005

Me as Prometheus, 2005

Treck, 2001

Khevsur, 2005

Check Point, 2000

Khevsurs, 2000

Camp, 2000

Bonjour, Supera, Tusheti, 1998

A Caucasian beauty, 2002

The Eagles of Saakashvili, 2005

23 June 2006

Bukhuti feeds a Caucasian Ovcharka with bread

At Gergeti near Kazbegi, Georgia. The dog is a female not older than 3 years, probably 2. You get a glimpse of the agile movement of these perfect dogs.

Young Entrepreneur Development Initiative

Today I met by chance the charming Country Director Laurie Dalton of YEDI, a NGO based in Oregon and Tbilisi with incredible interesting projects to educate and assist Georgian youth by developing their own small business ideas and launching them into reality. Check out their Tbilisi Project, the Young Agriculturalists, the project for Beekeepers, the Tbilisi Travel and Grassroot Tourism and the Georgian Artisan Development for International Markets.

From the Tbilisi Project: "Georgian youth are intelligent, quick learners and are eager for new ideas and concepts, particularly those from the US. However, they have not been exposed to entrepreneurial concepts that are commonplace and woven into the daily life of most western cultures. Concepts such as developing a plan, marketing, evaluating competition, and recognizing opportunities are new to Georgian youth, and they have few, if any, entrepreneurial role models to learn from."

I could not agree more. Maybe soon or in a few years some of the crisis-ridden countries of Europe may have to learn from successful young Georgian Businesswomen and projects like Yedi.

Inexpensive in Tbilisi

You can spend 300 USD, 180 USD, 90 USD or 70 for a night in a Double in Tbilisi- this amazing city does know its expenses. To do it cheaper becomes also more and more possible, as a lot of Backpackers and Students start to show interest in Georgia and the Caucasus.

I recommend:

Art Pension Murtazi: Nice breakfast and a really nice atmosphere for 25 .oo Euro. If you intend to stay longer than 4-5 nights you probably get a deal. In Saburtalo. (Prestige living area for Tbilisians, 15 minutes by car to the Old Town.)

Guesthouse Nika: With airconditioning and a firstclass service. 15.00 to 35.00 USD. In Saburtalo. (Prestige living area for Tbilisians, 15 minutes by car to the Old Town.)

High up in the Mountains in Tusheti, village Dartlo: Guesthouse Manana. Its senseless to describe the place, too beautiful. 25 USD incl. breakfast. For impressions visit http://tusheti.blogspot.com Contact me for details and bookings (up to 6-7 beds).

A bit more expensive (90-110 USD), but with a Jazz Bar in the basement and in the Old Town of Tbilisi: Hotel XX Century: http://www.20-century.com

22 June 2006

Relax on Georgia's Black Sea Coast

The Black Sea is blue...

Have a Tea in Guria

The Garden of Eden

Subtropical plants

Batumi in the Evening

Sunset at Ureki





Stop the trade of wild animals to Georgian Restaurants ! I thought there is a law in Georgia on the protection of animals.

20 June 2006

Plants and Animals of the Caucasus Region

Hi, at Flickr I started two new photo-groups and would like to invite you to join and share your photos on these topics with us, we would like to add the correct scientific names as well as the names in the local languages.

Plants Georgia Caucasus

Link: http://flickr.com/groups/80126945@N00/

Animals Caucasus Region

Link: http://flickr.com/groups/64704256@N00/

19 June 2006

Rare plant species Georgia

Gelbe Schachbrettblume

Fritillaria ophioglossifolia Freyn & Sint.
(syn. Fritillaria lutea M. Bieb. 1808, non Miller 1768)

Fritillaria collina

Chaukhi, Juta, Georgia June 2006

See a collection of rare species of plants of Georgia here:



The Fritillaria Group of the Alpine Garden Society in England thinks of the right name of the above species the following:

"According to the revised classification by Martyn Rix published in January
2001, fritillaria ophioglossifolia (Freyn & Sint) is no longer an accepted
name! The accepted name for what once were called fritillaria
ophiglossifolia is now fritillaria crassifolia!

Also, according to revised classification by Martyn Rix, fritillaria lutea
(M.Beib non Miller) is now reclassified as fritillaria collina.."

18 June 2006

Last chance to join our Journey to Tusheti in July 2006

It's not your last chance, because you can still join us on the very last moment of departure to Tusheti around 18th of July.

We start from Tbilisi
, the capitol of Georgia. Two other Guys from Switzerland will arrive on July,16th in Tbilisi. We spare a day for the town and start the Journey on July, 18th, with a trip through the wineyard of Georgia, Kakheti to the Winter settlement of the Tushetians, Alvani.

We will have a good typical Georgian dinner there with some good wines. On 19th we start the difficult road via the Abano-Pass of 2900 m to Tusheti, with a short stop in the biggest village Omalo. This road takes us 8 to 10 hours, depending on the weather conditions, but the scenery of the wild mountains will indeed impress you.

We follow the Tusheti Alazani River to Dartlo, where we stay at the Guesthouse of Manana. Next day we make a short walk to the next village Cesho, and further on to the villages Parsma and Girevi with its impressing ancient Defendstowers.

Here we saddle our horses and cross the mountain range to Tsova Tusheti, a beautiful wide valley with sheep and dogs and rough herdsmen. We camp with the herdsmen and try to catch some Brown trouts in the evening. If you do not like horse riding, you of course may hiking. We take your luggage on the horseback.

We follow the tiny pathes to Jvarboseli and the Eagle-nest-like small village of Dochu on the rock with a magnificent view down the river. We cross the range again to Cesho and change horses to a 4WD to go to the Northern villages of Shenako and Diklo close to the Dagestanian border.

We have to be back in Tbilisi on August, 1st.

Join the freedom of Tushetis mountain world with us.

Further details on this Journey via http://www.kaukasus-reisen.de

Price: USD 1380.00 from/to Tbilisi, including full board, accomodations, all transports, guides, horses etc.

Best regards, Hans

See some more images from Tusheti here: http://tusheti.blogspot.com/


For June and July 2007 we plan two Botanical Journeys through Georgia with different topics: Flowers, Grasses, Galls, Trees in the most different parts of this beautiful country. More info and details soon from www.kaukasus-reisen.de

Hydrangea macrophylla (Thunb. ex Murray) Ser. -Sorten
(Großblättrige Hortensie, Garten-Hortensie) - angebaut

Rhododendron ponticum L. (Pontischer Rhododendron, Purple
Rhododendron, Ponticum)

Lilium szovitsianum Fisch. & Ave-Lall.
(Szovits'is Lilie, Kaukasus-Lilie)

Papaver orientale L.
(Orientalischer oder Saat-Mohn, Oriental Poppy, Pavot d'Orient)

Dactylorhiza urvilleana (Steudel) H.Baumann & S.Künkele
(D'Urvilles Fingerwurz)