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We departed Tbilisi at noon and less than two hours later were in Gori. The entire country is a bit smaller than the state of Virginia so transfer days for this month are going to be a snap. The drive we chose was off the main road and we found ourselves winding through foothills and small villages. It was overcast the whole day and the drive was relaxing. Gori is a really small town and looks like something leftover from Soviet Russia circa 1960. Streets are lined with common Soviet style apartment blocks and simple stone and cement two story homes. Our apartment is above a large garage that we get to use for our car and its decor is right out of a 1040s Russian novel. Sparkling clean and furnished with old world style furniture, we are going to have a very nice and relaxing five days. Once we've visited the local museum en-homage to Joseph Stalin, we will be hard pressed to fill our days with more than long walks through the neighborhood.
Our first day out was spent walking around the small town. With only 40,000 people and a very small city center, we covered most of it in a few hours. First stop was the Stalin Museum. A bit too austere with tons of photos of the vile guy. A bit of memorabilia, his death mask, and his family home reconstructed on site. The one thing we were looking forward to seeing was the rail car used used as his "oval office" during his many campaigns of terror. Unfortunately it was closed to viewing.
We got the car out of our garage the next day and drove a short distance outside of the city to visit the ancient ruins of a rock cave city - Uplistsikhe, over 3,000 years old and built on a high rocky left bank of the Mtkvari River, it contains various structures dating from the Early Iron Age to the Late Middle Ages, and is notable for the unique combination of various styles of rock-cut cultures from Anatolia and Iran, as well as the co-existence of pagan and Christian architecture. The church is from the 5th century. We climbed up through a nature water tube to the top of the rocks and then wandered around for a couple of hours. It was a nicer day with patches of blue...but the end of our visit the clouds and some rain had come back.
Instead of sleeping in on our last day, we got up early and then vegged out for the entire day. Bobbie took a nice solo walk in the neighborhood and I worked on a couple of projects, did some work for Great Nepal Treks, and tweaked our travel plan for the next few months. Tomorrow we head to Kutasi for four nights.