Day 60 - Wed 14 May 08
I had to move rooms last night into a smaller room without an en-suite, but I still managed a good sleep. I got a shower at 08:00 then packed up my bag and left it in my American friends room. We all head off with Sergio the Mexican oil man on our day trip. Our driver arrives at the hotel and we drive out of Tbilisi towards Davit Gareja. The landscape is a real surprise, low rolling hills full of pasture for goats and cattle and then in the distance snow peaks of the high Caucasus'. The roads got progressively worse as we approached our goal, but the scenery got better and better.
Eventually we got to the Monastery and parked up, instead of going in we started hiking up the hill behind it. A steep climb brought us up (puffing and panting) to a knife edge ridge with views across a plain to more snow peaks and into Azerbaijan and Armenia. Just below the peak line cut into the sandstone are a series of houses and churches, some with some fine frescos. A hike along the edge gets us to a 360° viewpoint where we stop for a quick bite to eat. Bread, cheese and a bit of Georgian wine.
An easier hike gets us down to the monastery and we go in and have a look around. There are parts that are built out of brick, but other parts are cut into the rock. There are channels cut across the bear rock to collect and direct rain water for drinking.
Back into the car and we stop off at another ruin on the way back into Tbilisi. There are frescos here as well, but no quite as complete. Back to the hotel by 18:15, grab my bag and say my good byes. All in all a good day if a bit tiring. Left the hotel at 19:30 and took the metro up to the station. The train arrived at 21:45 and we were allowed on. The SV carriage is much newer than anything I've travelled on so far, it can't be more than five years old. The train departs on time.