International (Europe/Japan/NZ/Aus) Republic of Georgia - Skiing the Caucasus Mtns

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Mattadvproject

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Your videos are frustrating. Sweet bluebird powder but you aren't making eights on the previous tracks!

That looks so fun! But the road is scary.

Eric
Ha ha, no way. I like the freedom of self-expression when I make my tracks, plus I saw Aspen Extreme and they were practicing for the Powder 8's and Dexter ended up dying, so no, I'm too scared to try that! Way too risky..... I think I did propose some gentle spooning of the tracks but there were a few crashes and that didn't work out either.....

- Matt
 
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April 7th - Travel Day to Tbilisi

We left Mestia at 9am for the 9 hour drive back to Tbilisi. The sun was out so we had some amazing views of the Upper Caucasus Mountains on the way out. After about 45 minutes we saw car get stuck in mudslide area not far from Mestia. It had to be towed out by a massive 6-wheel drive truck. Thankfully we drove through without any problems.

It was a long drive and we were pretty spent when we arrived in in Tbilisi. It was after 6pm, when it made it to the Shota Rustaveli hotel. After we had settled in, we went out and had a nice meal on Rustaveli Avenue. Then it was time for an early night so we could get up early to explore the city. I was excited to see the sites of Tbilisi.

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Our trusty stead to take us on the 9 hour plus drive back to Tbilisi! 17 seats should be enough for 7 people I think....


20190407_085043.jpgFinally we had the unobstructed views of the mountains surrounding our hotel. Shame it was on the last day, but we were excited for the views we would see on the way back to Tbilisi.


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20190407_093222.jpgSo many amazing ski lines on this face....


20190407_093644.jpgWhoops! Looks like somebody is going to need a tow.....


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20190407_094435.jpgTrying to look majestic and failing..... thankfully the mountains behind do look majestic!


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Wifey loving the views. The views around Mestia were stunning!

- Matt
 
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This is all just unbelievably beautiful. And the monastery day - what an experience!
Thanks Jenny! That's greatly appreciated. This trip to Georgia has been really special and there's been so many highlights. I never want these trips to be just about the skiing, the culture is just as important. That day we skinned up to the monastery, even though the skiing down wasn't that great, was one of the most special experiences I have ever had. Thanks for commenting and following the blog!

- Matt
 

James

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Wow qute a distinct snow line . Very NZ esque. What's the avy danger?
 
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April 8th – Cultural Day in Tbilisi

Julie and I decided to have a little couple’s day together. We started on Rustaveli Ave and then headed down towards the Mtkvari River where we came to the old city walls on Pushkin Ave. Next we went to Gabriadze Puppet Theatre and clock tower on Sahvteli road. Then we crossed over the river via the Peace Bridge and had a look around Rike Park.

We then took the gondola (2.5 GEL per person 1 way and 2 GEL for card) back across the river up to Narikala Castle which gives a fantastic overlook of the city. We walked over to the Mother Georgia statue and then back to the castle for a look around. Then we walked down to Akhudovi to see the Sulhphur Baths and enjoy a rooftop lunch.

Then we started to head back to the hotel via the busy Maidan Square and a welcome stop at the Maidan Bazaar where it is nice and quiet. We took a walk-through Old Town and finished off in the fascinating Dry Bridge Market area and through 9th April Park back to Shota Rustaveli Hotel.

I have to say I like Tbilisi a lot. There is a lot going on and it is a very diverse city. You have some of the old Soviet-era architecture, but then also get a feel for the far east and the gateway to Asia and the Silk Road. I also like the blend of old and new. The people are very friendly and it’s easy to get around. The food is inexpensive and there’s plenty to see. You definitely can spend a couple of days exploring and have a great time.


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Old city wall on Pushkin Avenue


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Gabriadze Puppet Theater and Clock Tower


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20190408_112630.jpgPeace Bridge crossing the Mtkvari River


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The bridge leads to the Rike Park. Beware touts selling boat rides on the river below, they can be persistent.


20190408_113357.jpgRike Park


20190408_114627.jpgWe took the gondola from Rike Park across the river and up to the Narikala Fortress


20190408_115847.jpgThe backside of Narikala Fortress overlooks the botanic gardens


20190408_120426.jpgThe Mother of Georgia statue can also be found at the top of the gondola to the Narikala Fortress


20190408_123126.jpgYou have to take the path that goes down, to get to the main entrance to the Fortress, from the top of the gondola


20190408_123759.jpgLooking down to the sulfur bath area (the buildings with the domed roofs are the bathhouses). You can take the public (communal) baths or hire your own private room by the hour. I'd take the private option personally....


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Narikala Fortress main gate


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20190408_130704.jpgSulfur baths


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20190408_130927.jpgSulfur baths, Old Town and the Narikala Fortress. You can see a lot of sites in one day, just by walking around. Tbilisi is awesome!


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20190408_131811.jpgAwesome wine shop and cellar. I'm not a big wine drinker, but I did enjoy Georgian wine, especially the sweet wine. They are low alcohol, without much after taste. You can drink a few without any after-effects.


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This was a sulfur bath, not a mosque, as it turned out.....


20190408_132133.jpgLocks of love, for sale, of course!


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Nice little walkway close to the sulfur bath area.


20190408_142739.jpgThe very busy Meidan Square area.


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The nice and quiet (and cool, if it's hot outside), undergorund bazaar at Maiden.


20190408_144007.jpgLots of cool things to see at Maiden Bazaar


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20190408_144500.jpgOn our way back, we passed through the nightclub area. This one looked pretty cool!


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Meezove the street cleaner statue, a popular icon in Tbilisi


20190408_151907.jpgCool artwork in one of the pedestrian underpasses in Tbilisi


20190408_153726.jpgThe Dry Bridge Market area, so much to see here.


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20190408_154142.jpgThis part sold household brick-a-brack.


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Lot's of old china for sale


20190408_155458.jpgThey had a really cool art section from local painters. There was a cheesy section and then a section with really good stuff


20190408_155629.jpgBeautiful paintings of Ushguli and Mestia. Glad we got to visit those areas in person.....


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20190408_155805.jpgThese were my favorite peaces


20190408_160056.jpgThe drinking horn section of the Dry Bridge market area was quite impressive!


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You could fit in a lot of Georgian sweet wine in some of these horns..... you can't put them down until all the wine is gone!

I hope you enjoyed our tour of Tbilisi. We had an awesome time and loved walking the streets for a couple of days, there was a lot to see. 1 more day to go and then that's the end of our trip.....

- Matt
 

James

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Wow, very nice trip in Tiblisi. Thanks for the pics!
Who did the bridge? Kind of think it's Zaha Hadid with a big engineering co.
 
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Wow, very nice trip in Tiblisi. Thanks for the pics!
Who did the bridge? Kind of think it's Zaha Hadid with a big engineering co.
From Wikipedia....

"The bridge, a design of which reminds of a marine animal,[4] has a curvy steel and glass canopy top which shimmers with an interactive light display at night, generated by thousands of white LEDs. The roof is fitted with 1,208 custom LED fixtures designed and installed by the Dutch Primo Exposures and RENA Electronica companies, using 6,040 high-power LUXEON Rebel LEDs with 4,200K color temperature, supplied by Future Lighting Solutions. The handrail glass panels which run along the whole length of the walkway are equipped with embedded linear low-power LED arrays, a product called powerglass, supplied by Glas-Platz from Germany. The lighting is switched on 90 minutes before sunset illuminating Kura River below and buildings on both banks of the river.[5]


The bridge was designed by the Italian architect Michele De Lucchi, who had also designed the buildings of the Presidential Administration of Georgia and Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tbilisi; the lighting design was created by the French lighting designer Philippe Martinaud.[2] The structure of the bridge was built in Italy and transported to Tbilisi in 200 trucks while the lighting was installed on site during the assembly of the structures.[5] "

Ta da!

In regards to the snowpack James, I'm going to say it's more inter-mountain, in my opinion. Speaking to local guides and making our own observations, I saw and heard news of plenty of avalanche activity. A lot of it was about a month old, but there were crowns everywhere. I think this is a area of snowpack that you definitely want to be careful in, so working with local guides who have that historical local knowledge of the conditions, is important. I'd heard stories that the snowpack is very stable in this area and I'm going to say I don't necessarily believe them..... that's not what I saw.

- Matt
 

James

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Yeah thanks for the cool reports from far off areas. Really interesting. Never would think of Georgia.
Did tou bring anything back from there that's typically Georgian? Knew someone who went to Tiblisi briefly, think they brought back dates, some sort of nuts/chocolate things.
 
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Epic trip Matt, loved the photos.
Georgia has been on my wants list for a looong time.
See you in Chile!
Good to see you back on Pugski Dave! Thanks for following the blog. Georgia was an awesome experience. The facilities are way better than I thought. It's not far from you so you should definitely go check it out. I'll definitely be in Chile in August. When are you going? Do you want to do something together this year? I might have an option for you with another guy.....
Kind regards,
Matt
 
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Yeah thanks for the cool reports from far off areas. Really interesting. Never would think of Georgia.
Did tou bring anything back from there that's typically Georgian? Knew someone who went to Tiblisi briefly, think they brought back dates, some sort of nuts/chocolate things.
Thanks James! Ummm, I didn't go too crazy with the souvenirs, mostly because my wife was with me and she did most of the shopping. I did buy my mum a lovely silk painting of Mestia, that was really nice and a bit better than some of the regular tourist nick-nacs they try to peddle. My wife bought some nice jewelry, a hand-painted plate, a nice Georgian tablecloth and some Svanetian salt. The salt was really good and something different. I will get more of that next year. The wine is also really good as well and that would make a good present.

So my theory is you can fly to Georgia from the US and still have a cheaper trip than say a week in any of the larger US resorts. You could probably do 2 weeks in Georgia for less than the price of a week in the US. How? Well here's the skinny..... Flights from the US to Tbilisi around $800 USD return (we paid $850 each for our flights, from Denver). You can get decent ski in, ski out accommodation for $80 USD per room, per night (so $40 per person), including breakfast. Lift tickets in Gudauri are about $15 per day and that is for mostly 6 person lifts and gondolas. You can eat lunches for about $5 and $10 for dinner is going to get you a lot of food plus a drink or two. If you add all that up for 1 week, including flights, you are looking at about $1,290 for 1 weeks skiing. That's pretty hard to beat..... Georgia will be our new program in 2020.

- Matt
 
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April 9th – Last Day in Tbilisi and Traveling Back to the US

Our flight out was at 9:20 pm that night, so that meant we had to leave for the airport around 6:30pm. We pretty much had the whole day in Tbilisi. The hotel was great and they offered us half price on the room if we wanted to stay till the evening, so we gladly accepted their offer.

We had a nice lie in and a late breakfast and then headed out to see more of the sights. Jules wasn’t feeling too good so we didn’t go to the sulfur baths as originally planned, instead we decided to take a walk to the funicular and head up Mt. Mtatsminda. It was an easy walk, pretty much straight up, from our hotel. It took around 25 minutes. The funicular cost 5 GEL for a return ride and you have to buy a recharge card for 2 GEL, so 12 GEL for the two of us or around $4.50. Pretty reasonable.

The funicular was pretty cool. It goes up a really steep track and you get some good views. You can get out halfway to go and explore a church (Mtatsminda Pantheon). We stayed on and went straight to the top. There are great views of the city and also there is a big fairground up there (Mtatsminda Park). We spent some time walking around the park checking out the rides, but we couldn’t find anywhere to buy the tickets, so we didn’t end up going on any of them sadly.

Anyway, it was a nice warm day and it was nice enough just being up there and walking around. We spent a few hours all up before we decided to head back down to the hotel. Then we had to pack our bags, shower and have a late lunch. Then we took a taxi with Gary and Laurie back to the airport. We were flying with Qatar airlines, back via Doha.

It’s only 2 hours 45 minutes to get to Doha and then we had 7 hours to kill. We booked into the Qatar airlines lounge (about $55 per person) and hung out. We would have booked a room at the hotel in the airport but the rooms are very expensive. They have some lounge chairs in the quiet area of the lounge and we managed a few hours sleep. They have decent food and drinks (no alcohol) in the lounge and slightly watered down freshly squeezed orange juice. That was pretty good!

Then it was on to the flight to JFK. It was a pretty busy flight and our row was full. It took close to 13 hours to get to JFK. Unfortunately, our flight to Denver that evening was cancelled due to a snowstorm in Colorado, so we spent the night in a hotel close to the airport. The airline had re-booked us on a flight 2 days later, so we were not looking good. We were up early at 5am the next day to call JetBlue and thankfully there were some cancellations so we were able to get on the flight that evening. There were no problems with the flight and We arrived around 11pm in Denver. We took a Lyft home and then drove straight back to the airport to go pick up the cat from the boarding house. We got to bed around 2am and slept well……

So that was it, the end of an amazing adventure to Georgia. I have to say that is one of my favorite trips I have ever done. We had a great time in Georgia, it ticked all the boxes. We had an adventure; the skiing was great and we met some awesome people. Gudauri and Mestia are great places to ski. I’m definitely starting a Georgia program in 2020 (in Gudauri first, due to the complexity of travel to Mestia, it’s easier just to run a trip to one location). It’s very affordable and the food is really good. My biggest surprise was the quality of the infrastructure at the resorts we skied, so many high-speed 6 pack lifts and gondolas and for the price of $12 to $15? I was really blown away by that.

So, I will definitely be returning to Georgia in 2020 with hopefully quite a few more people.

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The entrance to the funicular building. You can see the top station behind.


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Heading up. It starts off reasonably mellow and then gets quite steep. It was standing room only on the way up.


20190409_125142.jpgGreat views from the top of Mt. Mtatsminda


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The telecommunications tower at the top of Mt. Mtatsminda.


20190409_125637.jpgMtatsminda Park fairgrounds


20190409_125753.jpgLot's of steps going up into the park.


20190409_130808.jpgSome of the rides.


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Heading back down, it was steeper than it looks.


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Going past the half-way point where the track splits.

- Matt
 

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