Kazbegi - Now this IS the Caucasus!

My first experience in the Caucasus was a one day trip on the Georgian Military Highway, all the way up to the village of Kazbegi.

I wanted to see the mountains. This is not a difficult task, anywhere in Georgia. Even in Tbilisi, all you have to do is go up to the Narikala fortress and you’ll have an impressive view of the mountains surrounding the city.

But I wanted to see the Greater Caucasus, go up a mountain and (almost) touch the sky.

Georgian territory includes the southern part of the Greater Caucasus range, in the north of the country, and part of the Lesser Caucasus (or Transcaucasus) in the center and south of Georgia.

Also, the very name Caucasus evokes centuries of poetry and mysticism.

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Supra: Georgian philosophy of life

A post about Supra may seem an odd choice to start talking about my travelling experiences in Georgia. But, as you will soon understand, it is, in fact, the perfect choice.

While researching for my trip, I read a lot about Supra and Tamada. In a very simple way, one may say Supra is a Georgian feast and Tamada is the toastmaster.

But there is so much more to it!

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Five Reasons to go to London: Reason 5 - Free Museums

Free museums: I always thought it was one of the ultimate signs of a highly educated and advanced society. A society that perceives culture as a basic good.

Even though today I have a slightly different opinion (it’s not just about how advanced the society is, but mainly about government budget priorities), the fact remains the same: most of London’s museums are free of charge.

If seeing “old stones” and art work is your thing (as is mine), then London allows you to see some of the most iconic man-made objects without having to pay a dime.

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"The Caucasus - An Introduction", by Thomas de Waal

“The countries of the South Caucasus have always been the “lands in-between”. In between the Black and Caspian seas, Europe and Asia, Russia and the Middle East, Christianity and Islam and, more recently, democracy and dictatorship.”

Five reasons to go to London: Reason 4 - Pub Culture

I loved Dublin’s pub scene, but London remains the hot spot for pub life. There’s nowhere else like London!

Have a pint at end of the day, or a cider. Eat a light meal. And chill out with some friends. That’s quintessential London life.

I always loved British pubs. And it’s one of the things that looks pretty much unchanged.

When I firtst went to London, 17 years ago, pubs were all about having cheaper meals. Back then I didn’t like beer (sily me) and my travel budget could not accomodate meal prices at proper London restaurants. So, it was either McDonald’s and greasy street fish and chips, for the whole week, or pub food.

Pub food has always been a cheaper and lighter alternative to a full restaurante meal. And it never fails its role as confort food, properly washed down with a nice pint of ale.

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Five reasons to go to London: Reason 3 - Awesome Theatre

In spite of a few disillusions I experienced on my last trip to London, this city continues to be THE place to check out some awesome theatre. Thank the Muse!

I go to the theatre most times I’m in London. But I’m not into musicals, so I usually look for my “poison” outside the famous West End (although one can see more than musicals in West End).

I love going to the National Theatre (https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/ ), in the South Bank area, with its three stages and an incomparable 25 new shows a year. This summer it was Chekhov season and I felt so tempted…

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Layover in Barcelona

What do you do if you have a longer layover? For example, if you have a 7 or 8 hour layover in an awesome city? Do you sit at the airport and browse through all its shops, over and over again? Do you take a nap on the uncomfortable plastic chairs? Or do you try to make the best of it?

Sometimes longer layovers are unavoidable. Maybe there were no earlier connection flights. Or maybe they were fully booked by the time you bought your trip.

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Five reasons to go to London: Reason 2 - Alternative Culture

The alternative culture scene was always been present in London. But it has changed and the traditionally alternative neighbourhoods too.

When I first went to London, back in 1999, it was not uncommon to come across a punk in the street. Or any other alternative subculture, for that matter. Coming from a country not yet totally comfortable with what was considered alternative culture, I was marvelled by the freedom I could witness in London streets. I felt rude when I stared at a punk, a metalhead, a goth or anyone with a different look from the standards I was used to. I was a plain, mid-twenties, young lawyer. And we didn’t have alternative subcultures in the middle of main streets in Lisbon. But London did and it was normal. It was ok. It was just everyday life. No one even paused or stared. And I loved it!

I loved that sense of freedom. The idea that you can be anyone you want. That you can rebel, just because, and you can show your disapproval of society by discarding its external signs of compliance.

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Travel guide or internet search?

When preparing for your next trip do you prefer to consult a travel guide or to do some internet search on the subject?

When I began travelling, internet was not this incredible instrument it is today. And certainly not in Portugal. Most people did not own a computer, there were basically no internet cafés and internet access was not easily available. So, all we had were travel guides.

For my first trips I didn’t even had a travel guide. Just had a few ideas on what I wanted to see and do, and that was that. Most of those times I was fortunate to end up making local friends who showed me around. I have wonderful memories from those trips and some long lasting friends.

And then I decided to go to London in 1999. That’s when I bought my first travel guide. It was a Baedeker’s and I still have it. It accompanied me during my 3 first trips to London, like a faithful friend.

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Five reasons to go to London - Reason 1: Multicultural Cuisine

From the top of your head: last time you went to London what did you eat? British traditional cuisine? Or all sorts of international cuisine? I’m guessing the second, right? When I think of London, its multicultural cuisine is one of the first things that pop to my mind.

When I first went to London, back in 1999, I tried to taste traditional British cuisine. But apart from pub food, pies and pasties (specially Cornish), I didn’t really enjoyed the local British delicacies. And I still don’t.

The fact that I did not become a fan of British food and the exorbitant prices of regular restaurants, made me turn to ethnic food. And I found a huge, tasty offer.

A meal at an ethnic restaurant costs, usually, less than a third of the price of the same amount of food at a traditional British place. We can find countless restaurants and joints, everywhere, providing all sorts of international cuisine.

While in London I’ve tasted, or come across, the following types of cuisine: French, Moroccan, Greek, Lebanese, Italian, Indian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Malaysian, Caribbean, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Australian, American, Turkish, Cypriot, Mexican and Colombian.

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