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So Where are Georgia and the Caucasus?

A Map showing Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan

Even if they have heard of them, most people would have a hard time pointing out Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan on the map. So, I thought I'd paste a map here showing where it is in relation to the Europe and Asia.

Europe_CaucasusMap.jpg

Posted by world_wide_mike 11:51 Tagged map georgia azerbaijan armenia caucasus Comments (0)

Starting a Travel Blog for This Summer's Trip

Worldwidemike's Journey to the Caucasus -- Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan

Hi, it has been more than 3 years since I took a real journey abroad -- the longest period of time since I turned 18 and went backpacking through Europe. As most of you know, I cut back on the travel while I was studying to get my teacher's license. Then, job searching and getting my first two years of teaching under my belt consumed all of my spare time. Now, I'm ready to start taking advantage of my summer breaks and resume my travels. I'm ready to become Worldwidemike, again!

This summer's trip is to the Caucasus Mountains -- yes, where the word "Caucasian" comes from. This area between Turkey and Russia is technically Europe, but is steeped in influences from Asia. When I began to read about its gorgeous mountain scenery and the medieval towers and monasteries that are relics of its rich past, I was hooked. I plan to leave towards the end of June and will be gone for a month. Before I leave, I will make a few entries outlining my planned route and what I hope to see. You can subscribe to this blog and receive emails when I update it. I plan to update it as often as possible while on the road. I don't know what internet access is like in these countries, but hope to find out some more about that before I go.

Feel free to pass this blog address along to friends, family members or anyone else you think might enjoy it. And in the meantime, feel free to check out my Travel page which has many travelogs from the 70+ countries I've visited so far in my life!

My travel page: Worldwidemike

Posted by world_wide_mike 11:51 Comments (1)

Have hat, ready to travel!

Worldwidemike, version 3

WWM_hat.jpg
One of my traditions over the past couple decades of travel has been wearing a personalized "Worldwidemike" hat. I just had this one made at Easton yesterday. My previous WWM hat was pretty sweated out and was a little worse for the wear. I thought I'd go with a black one this time. I think it looks pretty cool. Others may think it's weird having a hat with your nickname on it, but hey! Others think it is weird I'm going to Georgia and Armenia in the first place!

Speaking of my destination, Azerbaijan has been officially trimmed from the list. I simply don't have enough time to secure a visa for my visit. I was hoping the embassy in Washington D.C. would let me show up in person and apply and get it in the same day. That's what I did for Mali, Syria and other countries who have restrictive visa policies. Azerbaijan apparently does not do this, and you instead have to wait 10 business days for it to be sent to you. That was cutting it too close for comfort, so I've decided to put a visit to the country off to another day.

The good part is that this lets me spend more time in both Georgia and Armenia. There is so much to see there. I'm really excited about this trip. One thing I'm trying to do is be more "21st century" with my travel preparation. I've used Facebook to contact people in Georgia and Armenia to have them answer questions I have. I'm still debating whether to take an iPad or iPhone with me. There is an app that translates what you want to say into Georgian or Armenian -- writing it out in their Cyrillic script, showing how to pronounce it, and even saying it for you. Not quite the Star Trek universal translator yet, but it is getting closer. And needless to say, I don't speak a word of either language, yet!

Next, I'm going to try to "email update" feature of this blog. Apparently, I can send an email to a certain address and it automatically updates this blog with what I send. I want to see how it works before I leave, so expect that to be coming shortly. I am now less than 2 weeks away -- so I'll soon be updating from the road!

Posted by world_wide_mike 10:54 Comments (0)

Planes and airports, planes and airports (repeat)

Loooong two days of travel ahead...

So, the big day has arrived and I'm finally on my way to the Causcasus. Right now, I'm sitting in the Philadelphia airport after the shortest of the flights I'll be taking. Here's my travel schedule:

Tuesday, 1:30 USAirways flight from Columbus - Philadelphia
Tuesday, 6:15 USAirways flight from Philadelphia - Zurich
-- I get in at 8:25 am on Wenesday morning.
Wednesday, 1:20 pm Ukraine International Airways flight from Zurich - Kiev
Wednesday, 8:30 pm Ukraine International Airways flight from Kiev - Tlibisi
-- I finally get in at 11:55 pm Wednesday night. The place I'm staying is sending a driver to pick me up at the airport.
It costs about $5-10 more than a taxi, but will be worth it, I feel. That way I *know* someone will be expecting me there. if I weren't getting in so late, I probably wouldn't worry about it. Arriving after midnight in a strange city where I don't speak the language seems to tell me it's worth it.

This is going to be a long two days, I'm sure. I have my new ipad to entertain me in places like this with wifi. I'll try to sleep on my overnight flight to Zurich, but I'm not always best at doing that. Well see...

Feel free to leave comments on my posts. The way the blog is set up, I have to "approve" comments. So, it may take a day for the to show up here, but they will. From this point on, I promise my posts will get more interesting! Oh, and if you "subscribe" to the blog, you'll get emails when I put up a new entry.

Talk to you soon...!
worldwidemike

Posted by world_wide_mike 13:17 Comments (4)

Near-disaster on Day 1

When it rains, it pours...

rain 75 °F

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My reentry into the world of staying in hostels didn't go so well last night. Despite totaling maybe 3 hours sleep over the last two days, I could not get to sleep. I was staying in a 6-bed dorm with 5 other travellers I did not get a chance to meet because I didn't get in till after 1 am. I am an incredibly light sleeper, so the noises of people shuffling through their stuff, going to the restroom and so on kept me from falling asleep. Oh, and did I mention two cat fights outside our balcony and the drunken disturbance down the street? Yeah, so I went into Thursday half a zombie.

I'd like to think that was my alibi for the disaster I mention in the title. Somehow, as I was out wandering the streets of Old Town Tbilisi, I managed to lose my passport. Not misplace, or forget where I left it. No,I dropped in the street somewhere. When I noticed it was missing, I retraced my entire morning route. I returned to the hostel and told them about it. Before calling the police, the hostel worker made me empty my pockets and bags for her. When I checked with the embassy, they confirmed someone had found and reported they would be turning in my passport. They called a couple hours later when they had it. I jumped in a cab and raced to get it. In 72 previous countries, I had ever lost either my passport or wallet. Yikes. I'd better get some sleep tonight or this could be a rough trip!!

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So, what did I do and see in Tblisi today? Mainly, I made travel arrangements like purchasing my ticket to Mestia -- the scenic heart of the Caucasus Mts. In Georgia. I checked out hotels for when Jenny joins me in mid-July, and I picked out places to visit. Definitely a "light" day on sights, but a potential heavy-weight disaster. I met a lot of the other travellers staying here at the hostel. It was fun gettting to know them. Tomorrow, I am out the door early to take a marshrutka (shared minivan taxi) to Akhaltsikhe. And yes, I even learned how to pronounce that mouthful of a name. Georgians love their consonants! So far, my favorite is Mtskheta...5 consonants before the first vowel!

Hopefully, I'll have more sights to report on tomorrow, along with no dazed mindless mishaps...!

Posted by world_wide_mike 07:40 Archived in Georgia Comments (3)

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