Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Days 73 and 74: Tbilisi Georgia, a border crossing, to Armenia

We were curious to learn more about Georgia.
Geographically - the  Caucasus mountains run through Georgia and there are many rivers and  fertile river valleys.
Georgia is an independent republic on the coast of the Black Sea bordered by Turkey, Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan.
The population is 4.6million. 1.3m live in the capital Tbilisi which was founded in AD400 after the end of the Roman Empire.

Historically Georgia has been subject to invasions by Arabs, Mongols, and by the Persians. In 1783 the King of Georgia signed a treaty with Catherine the Great which gave Russian protection until 1798 when the Persians burned the Tbilisi to the ground. From 1811-1918 Georgia was under Russian rule but Georgians managed to keep their culture intact.  
Georgia's first independence was brief - from 1918-1921. In 1921 it became part of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic  - part of the Soviet Union. 
There is an excellent exhibition about the Soviet era in the Tbilisi museum. Not a happy story. Many Georgians were killed at the outset of The Soviet era including 80 church leaders, numerous academics and artists.  20,000 were sent to the gulags in Siberia.
Georgia's second independence began after the break up of the Soviet Union 1991. 
In 2008 Georgia was involved in the South Ossetia war. South Ossetia with the support of Russia wanted to break away from Georgia.

Despite this traumatic recent history people proudly espouse their Georgian culture and traditions. Most Georgians are Christians, but there are Muslims and Jews as well. The flag carries five red crosses of St George.

The  land area is just over one third of New Zealand.
The GDP in 2010 was estimated to be $22bn the average per capita was $5,114US 


 Are we going the right way to the border crossing?

This drover saw us earlier in the day.

The electricity is 'off'. Afterward waiting for two hours we decided to turn the bike around and try another border crossing. So back to Marneuli and then south to Shakholte.

From Georgia.                                                                    To Armenia

These trucks are queued on the Armenian side the border with Georgia.
Reminds us of Central American border crossings where mile of trucks would be waiting.
We aren't sure but suspect this is a coal mining plant. It filled the valley and there was  fire at the top of the mountain. Possibly a mine fire.
Our first sighting if a cross on the road side in Armenia.


A cross in the wilderness in Armenia.


We rode through rugged mountainous terrain in northern Armenia. 
The view from our hotel across Vanadzor city, Armenia.

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