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Sunday, February 28, 2010

And, of course . . .


. . . I must not neglect Georgia!  I tell you, I have been away from Georgia for three months and my fascination with the country has not diminished one bit.  If anything, it's getting stronger.  So, I guess it's true love after all!  Well, I must move ahead with plans to live there.  I have a long 12 years till retirement, but then I will be completely free to do whatever I want. I love the mountains and cooler weather so hopefully, I can find a small town or village to live in that has these features.  And, hopefully, this place will not be too far from a city of some size where I can occasionally check my e-mail and update this blog.  Well, it's time to take action!  I must locate the town and, more importantly, learn the language to an extent that I can function in society right away.  Over the next 12 years, I will be obsessed in preparing for this goal.  At that time, my real life will begin.

Hmm, did I live in Georgia in a past life?

Oh!  The picture!  Well, this is another one of Jvari Monastery near the town of Mtsketa.  Enjoy!

Mt. Rysy2

Here are some more pictures on the way up.  As I said before, there were many opportunities to take pictures as the entire climb/descent took about 10 hours.  We began around 10am and stumbled back to the car around 8pm after the sun had set!  The actual climb wasn't that long, it was getting to the base of the mountain that took forever.  I am glad I did it though because it provided some wonderful memories.

I want to add some information about the first picture.  I thought this would be a great place to fish but was told the water was far too cold for fish to survive in it.


Here I am in front of a 'Pleso.'  This the Slovak word that describes a mountain lake.

Some beautiful scenery on the way up

And more . . .

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mt. Rysy

'Rysy' is the second tallest mountain in the 'Vysoke Tatry' range of Slovakia.  It stands at approximately 2,500 meters and is quite dangerous with landslides killing a few people every year.  As a matter of fact, Slovak law requires that insurance be bought for any rescue that might be necessary.  When I began climbing it, I stopped worrying about the landslides and worried more about the heart attack I thought I was going to have!  Seriously, climbing this mountain was one of the most difficult things I ever did in my life.  Of course, it probably would have been much easier if I had been younger!

Anyway, here are three pictures but I'll be posting more over the next several days. It took 10 hours to climb up and down so there were a lot of pictures!



It looked so easy in the beginning.

I'm having fun risking my life!

Not smiling anymore.  Why am I so tired?






Friday, February 26, 2010

A Change of Pace

I took these pictures in 2001 while I was living in Bangkok.  The first one shows a worshipper in a Buddhist temple.  The second one is of the Old City outside Bangkok.  These pictures really bring back some memories.

Downtown Kosice

A lot of chaos going on in this picture but still worth posting.

From Cathedral to Monastery


A nice picture from the cathedral complex to the monastery.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bird Migration


These birds were gathered near the cathedral pictured two posts below.  It's interesting that they chose that location.  To see them clearly, you'll need to click the picture to enlarge it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Love This Picture!


I took this at dusk on a hill overlooking the city of Presov.  It was near "The Stations of the Cross" area.  I've been told it's not there anymore.  I would have thought it was a figment of my imagination had I not taken the picture.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral


I tried to get a close-up of this cathedral so you could see the amazing workmanship of the stone.  You may need to click on the pictures to see the detail.  More information on the cathedral is at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svetitskhoveli

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Making Plum Jam in Slovakia


Making 'plum jam' is a tradition that takes place in Slovakia in the fall.  Friends gather around the fire and stir the boiling plums for most of the day.  The trick is NOT to stop stirring them, otherwise, all the hard work will be for naught as the plums will coagulate before they're ready.  I thought it was a lot of effort for very little reward until I realized the true purpose of the exercise was the opportunity for friends to get together and socialize.  From the pictures, you can see I did more of that than the stirring which was actually entirely done by the older gentleman!  I also found out the plums can be made into a 'nefarious' product other than jam which certainly makes the effort worthwhile if you know what I mean!

The first picture is a little grainy because it was taken the night before as we were shelling out the plums.  The last two pictures were the next day during the boiling process.  Hope you enjoy them!

Mtsketa Fortress

Various pictures of the fortress complex itself . . .

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Habsburgs' new empire

I copied this article from the most recent edition of "The Economist."  It's about a Habsburg princess who has chosen to live in Georgia since 2001.  Not only has she acquired Georgian citizenship but she's also been selected as the Georgian ambassador to Germany.  If a world-famous princess who could live anywhere decides to live in Georgia, this certainly explains the obsession with the country that a commoner like me possesses.

The princess and the bear

GEORGIA struggles to make its case in Germany, which sees trade ties with Russia as vital and the ex-Soviet Caucasian republic as troublesome. So who better to burnish Georgia’s image there than a German-educated Habsburg? Georgia’s new ambassador to Berlin, once she presents her credentials to the president next month, will be Gabriela Maria Charlotte Felicitas Elisabeth Antonia von Habsburg-Lothringen, princess Imperial and Archduchess of Austria, Princess Royal of Hungary and Bohemia. A name like that, says Georgia’s president Mikheil Saakashvili, should open doors.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kosice: The Singing Fountain

This amazing fountain in Kosice sprays water in time with the music that's playing.  This is part of the downtown area mentioned in yesterday's post.

Mtsketa


This view of the edge of Mtsketa was taken from a fortress near/in the town.  Honestly, I'm NOT a good photographer.  Georgia simply turns photographers into artists and illiterates into poets . . .

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Downtown Kosice

Here is the entrance to the downtown area of Kosice, a city in SE Slovakia.  I wish my city were as clean as this one.

Jvari Monastery

I got really lucky with this picture.  I love the way you can see only the shape of the monastery and none of the detail.  It contributes to the 'mystical' effect of the structure.  Here is a link for more information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jvari_(monastery)

Monday, February 15, 2010

St. Nicholas Church (interior)

Normally, you can't take pictures inside this church.  However, some of my Slovak friends suggested to the caretaker that allowing me to do so would improve relations between Slovakia and America.

Rustaveli Architecture


I love this 'old world' architecture of which you can find a lot in T'bilisi because it was sheltered from change for so many years.

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope everyone had a happy Valentine's Day yesterday.  I refused to celebrate it though because the one I had last year was so terrible.  I was miserable at the time, but can laugh about it now, I guess.  Also, like basic training, it has provided me with a good story to tell.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Church Services


The churches in T'bilisi were active regardless of the day of the week or time of day.  I always had to enter them because the aesthetic environment was irresistable.

Presov From Above

An aerial view of downtown Presov.  I took this picture while out with some of my Slovak friends.  I wonder if they remember this day and where we were when we took the pictures?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Which is more brilliant . . .

the statue or the sun?

Archway!

Here is a medieval-style archway in downtown Presov, Slovakia.  It was always very active with people feeding in and out off of sidestreets.  The first time I walked under it, I noticed the cobblestones beneath my feet.  I stopped noticing this after a while.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My First Picture of Georgia

This picture was sent to me by a friend last summer upon hearing that I was traveling to Georgia.  I originally posted it on my blog on July 2, 2009 a good two months before I went there.  At the time, the picture looked beautiful to me but, otherwise, had no special meaning.  Since that time, it has taken on much more significance.  I can see many churches that I visited in Tbilisi especially Sameba Cathedral.  The latter was especially meaningful because I was taken there by some wonderful Georgian friends. Ahhh, those were the days . . .                                                                                

Tbilisi Metro Station

Not too exciting, I know but everything in Georgia finds a way to impress me!

Downtown Presov


I really like the pastel colors of the buildings! It has a strange effect on the eyes that a photo really can't convey.