The Orthodox Monastery
We have breakfast in a small tourist café as soon as it opens. Then we explore the village, stroll through the narrow, winding gravel roads through the forest of defensive towers and reach the old Orthodox church on the hill. A sign on the door confuses us. The photo of a good-looking woman is shown crossed out in red.
Are women not welcome? Are models prohibited? In the church two women are talking to a cheerful priest. So it cannot be the first option. The question arises who judges the attractiveness and carries out the consequences …
We have found a new friend, a dog suddenly appears and does not leave our side anymore. It seems to be a loser in the local society and we seem to be its protection. Every now and then a dog comes running up to our friend, growling, into whose territory we must have come.
Then our dog whimpered with its tail drawn between my legs and enjoyed the fact that the rowdy conspecific no longer dared to go on. But when the wave of marshrutkas breaks over Ushguli, we have to move on again.
We see a barely recognizable slope that leads behind the church into a valley towards the glaciers. The curiosity is great and we hump our pajero through a river and through the bushes. Where the road seems too washed out we leave the car and follow a path that takes us through a forest of Hercules to one of the glaciers.
We fight our way over the very fragile scree until we stand on the ice and enjoy the view back into the valley and can take great photos. Between Uli and me the winged comment “May Lightroom make this picture epic” develops.
Then we return to Ushguli, leave the tourists behind, who run over the little village like ants like ants and follow the road out of the village deep into the Caucasus. According to the map, the road should be a loop and you should come along it from another valley into the plain. The weather and the mountain landscape are fantastic.
For a long time the road winds tightly through the mountains. We cross a pass and keep seeing snow fields. Dense collections of Hercules are also everywhere. After going downhill again, we cross numerous streams and wet forests.
Camp with near death experience
We find a perfect spot on a meadow with cut grass to pitch our tent when the sun sets on. But before we set up our camp, we hold our breath. There is a dull noise from the forest. As if from Jurassic Park, the trees bend as something large fights ruthlessly through the forest from the slope into the valley. But we can’t see what it is and wait. Nothing happens. Then it’ll come back. There is a thud from the forest and the trees bend one after the other. With a powerful impact, a hundred meters in front of us, a sawn-off part of a log thunders out of the wood and comes to a stop somewhere in the meadow.
Another block rolls behind and comes to a stop later. Lumberjacks seem to be working up on the hillside.
We keep a little distance when we set up the tent and we are not finished yet when two very perplexed men pass us and we wave to them.
We treat ourselves to a sumptuous dinner and vespers made of Georgian bread, herder’s cheese, paprika, sausage, fruit (peaches, grapes, cherries) from the farmers’ stands, plus wine, beer or chacha.
Shortly before we leave Svaneti the next morning, we stop for breakfast in the café of a small village.
There we meet two young people from Stuttgart who, inspired by the popular travel documentary film “Far”, set out for Georgia to hitchhike around the country.