Travelling is an adventure, but you can certainly have good days and bad days. There are days where you feel like you are action man and can take on anything! There are also days where you feel like Mr Bean and can’t even seem to use a knife and fork correctly!
During our stay in Svaneti, Alexei and I were neither of those. The days passed easily and we just enjoyed beautiful scenery, fresh air and a bit of good Georgian cuisine (if the restaurants were serving it!).
This is what we got up to…
Exploring Svaneti – nice AND ugly in parts to begin with
..but it got significantly better (and wetter and colder)
Who decides to build a church up here? Love Georgian thinking.
Chunks of ice crashing into the raging river below. Rocks tumbling
down the steep mountainside, getting dangerously close to our heads (me
secretly hoping one would knock some sense into Alexei!). Two Londoners looking
like drowned rats wondering why they were doing this to themselves and why had
they not bothered to learn the difference between a water proof and water
resistant coat before this trip?! This was the mouth of the Chalaadi Glacier!
The epic Chalaadi Glacier on a very rainy and cloudy day
We almost didn’t make it this far – just 15 minutes earlier we were stood in the rain staring at the glacier from a distance. “You can’t go any further, this is finish” said two moody Russian women with bright yellow dyed hair. “Really, this is it?!”, it didn’t look very impressive. Being the natural adventurous types we had an adventurous plan – “Maybe we should do a quick selfie and go, it is pissing down!” Unfortunately there was a rustle in the bushes which distracted us. “Haaallo, glacier this way?!”… a rugged-looking Spanish man had sprung from the bushes with a baby strapped to his back, his glasses steamed up. “Erm we think so…”
“Ah I go!” he shouted before we’d finished and off he hopped onto to rocks and disappeared into the mist. His wife quickly followed. “If he is going down there with a BABY on his back, then we are going too!” I told a disappointed Alexei. “Are you sure you want to follow him? I mean how can he even see through those glasses!” protested Alexei. How can following a blind man and a lady in flip flops down a rocky path not be Alexei’s idea of fun I thought!
At the mouth of the glacier
The scramble across the jagged rocks in the pouring rain to get was well worth it in the end. Being at the mouth of a glacier was something else! It is an amazing experience to be that close that you can feel the freezing temperature of the big blue ice glacier.
If you want to go one step further, you can. Later when exchanging stories with another traveller, he told us about how he climbed right into the mouth of the glacier, ripped off a chunk of ice like a cave man, and chucked it straight into his gob for a taste. I doubt they recommend this in travel guides but it certainly is one way of getting closer to nature.
The rest of Svaneti was full of beautiful scenery and natural wonders, so we simply spent the next two days hiking and exploring the mountains.
Stunning views from Hatsvali, Svaneti
The weather constantly caught us by surprise, as did the sheer beauty of the region
Hatsvali ski resort was another place we visited, where there was no snow but some pretty cool views. The cable cars are the only way up to the top. We shared the views with orthodox priests and a dog the size of a very small horse. This horse-dog quickly became the main entertainment as he was constantly busy running around at horse speed, knocking down everything in its path every time it got a whiff of food being served by the waiters.
The horse-dog. Comforted by the smell of kachapuri radiating from Alexei
Turns out that travelling is hard and it’s critical to remain hydrated when trekking
Thinking rain was on its way we headed back to the cable cars, trying to avoid the evil stare of our friend, the cable car operator. On the way down, we exchanged pleasantries with the drunk youths going in the opposite direction, who were shouting out their best English on the way down. “Heyy where from” while blasting out Euro pop tunes on their Nokia 6210’s.
A fun way to get back down. Yeah, nice socks, we know.
Back on the ground we headed for lunch, the most important meal of the day besides breakfast, dinner, snack one and two. At EVERY restaurant (there’s about 3), we scanned the menu and the conversation went like this:
“We’ll have the ribs”
“OK what about chicken?”
“…but that table is eating it!”
“We have but chef not want cook it now, lazy”
“Well, what can he be bothered to make?”
This was really becoming a problem. Only one week in and I was already starting to look like a kachapuri…
The famous stone fortress houses of Svaneti. And a cow.
A stray cow just wandering through town as we eat our dinner. Just a regular day in Georgia.