After lunch we headed North on the Georgian Military Road.  The road was built by the Russians in the 19th century to enable them to get their troops to Georgia to make it easier to maintain control.  Now it is the only border crossing between Russia and Georgia and also Armenia's only international vehicle access point (because of their poor relations with Turkey and Azerbajain).

First stop was the Ananuri fortress, a 17th century complex overlooking the Aragvi River and reservoir way below.  It was the scene of many fierce battles and includes defensive walls, remnants of a castle and a church. 


Often we were delayed as cows or sheep blocked the road.

We passed Gudauri, the ski area I had visited many weekends 20 years ago.  Now the area has dozens of small hotels and guest houses as it has become popular among Russians because of its high elevation, long winters, steep slopes and low prices compared with Austria and Switzerland.  Some pictures from 20 years ago are here: click here

Near the top of the pass is a monument erected near the end of the Soviet times as a tribute to friendship between Georgia and Russia. Its mural showed pictures of Russians and Georgians celebrating their cultures.

It was a long way down to the valley below.

Our guide thought this may not have been a real wedding celebration but rather filming of an advertisement.  We had seen the same people at Ananuri.

We stayed in a hotel not far from the Russian border.  In the morning we set off hiking up the mountain to the Tsminda Sameba (Gergeti Trinity Church)

We were tired after our steep hike and happy to relax in the bus as we headed back down the Georgia Military Road.  We did stop briefly to admire deposits from the mineral water gushing out of the ground.

Next stop was Gori, Stalin's birthplace and location of an ancient cave city.  Click Here.

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