Kete is young man from Slovenia, who just adores Georgia. He was very glad when I
wrote him and asked some questions about his adventures here.
discovered Georgia for not so long, but when I was reading his story, I really
believed, that he loves our country truly and knows even more about us than
most of georgian young generation.
story is amazing, every word is full of love and delight.
happy that Presa.ge had a chance to talk to him (even by mail) and now we are
able to show you his amazing photos of jaw-dropping beauty of Georgia and
tell all his story.
Jurij tell us about yourself, who you are and from, are you professional
of all I would like to say that I know many Georgians who deserve to be in
magazine's article more than me. I will disapoint you, but I am just a cook,
serving in Slovenian army (Slovenia,
ex Yugoslavia, not Slovakia, ex Czechoslovakia) in the Language
training center, which belongs to NATO and Partnership for peace. And
photography is just my favourite hobby, as to many others.
So, here I can answer you how I
Your Ministry of defence and General staff members are among the most loyal
students of our center. And I simply can not be just an »official« cook… People
leave their families and come here in Slovenia- a completely different
environment- for three months and they are humans like us. And they make me
richer bringing me the mixture of cultures here in spiritually very empty Europe. And they are bringing me the heart-stirring
stories from their lives and countries, which should wake up us to start
thinking positive what we have and not to regret what we haven't… But Europe stays empty and selfish. Maybe people are touched
for a while, but next day they continue with their selfish life and handicaped
emotions, learned nothing from the heart-stirring stories…
Georgians and Georgia?
I will not name them (in the name of the privacy this is the text with no names
and the photos with no people), but two of them, two golden georgian angels who
are like my sisters… I was probably really nice to them ( but I believe that I
am nice to all of our students, or better, our guests ) and both- they were not
here at the same time, but one in 2009 and another in 2011- invited me to visit
Georgia someday… And I've also got the heart-stirring story about 2008 war
there, which is, saddly, completely unknown here and in the West overall,
because it happened in the shadow of Beijing olympic games which all the world
was focused to at that time…
I was never really interested of travelling. I've always got a mixture of
cultures served in our center and that was enough to me. I've spend my summer
vacations here in Slovenia
and that was enough to me. A week somewhere in the mountains serving as a
cook-volunteer in the mountainers camp and one weekend alone somewhere in a non
crowded place, that was it. And my batteries were recharged…
the night came the financial crisis and everything has changed. In the worse
times the bad people become even worse and the good people even better- and the
bad people all the time try to stop them. However, the masks falled from the
faces and once the ugliness is revealed, it becomes agressive. And once the
real faces are revealed, you can't cover them with masks anymore… And that
circumstances are the best playground for increased corruption and nepotism. In
every corner and everywhere in the »hierarchy«. And people become the beasts to
each other… It doesn't matter how high is your salary; the only what counts is
how you can survive from one month to another. And survive a month with a 60%
of the average salary nowhere's easy. And the fact that I earn 30% less than
four or five years ago is also not very helpful. In the country where the food
costs three times more than in Georgia, where the taxes are around ten times
higher, public transport five times higher, car registration 1400 lari per
year, medical insurance 900 lari per year, one-room flat at least 8500 lari per
year… All the doctors and teachers under the age of 35 unemployed… Oh, yes,
also the European union countries have their dark sides…
realized that I don't enjoy vacation in Slovenia anymore. Particulary
because it's a little country where is easy to follow you and disturb your
privacy with dirty games… And, so, entered in my fourties ( don't judge me by
photo; I look much younger as I am ), I decided for Georgia. A trip which costs me two salaries each time,
but I don't regret neither a penny. Someday I'll simply become unable to have a
trip to there, but until that day I'll simply enjoy.
a totally green beginner I came to Georgia in the summer of 2012. To a
completelly different land than any European land. Tbilisi,
Jvari monastery, Mtskheta, Ananuri, Shiomgvime, Vardzia, Sapara,
Green monastery … And returned home with a new episode in my life. Remembered
from time to time how hot is there. Heat and particulary the sun are my worst
I was eight I barely survived the meningitis and since then I must avoid the
sun and heat, particullary heat with high humidity. And I live in the valley
which is the hotest part of Slovenia.
The hotest with constantly high humidity.
I decided that I was in Georgia
once and this suposed to be it. Next summer I stayed in Slovenia,
spending my vacation as I did it before: a week as a cook-volunteer in the
mountainers camp and a weekend alone in a non crowded place. But my batteries
were not recharged. Because… When the times are bad and dirtier than before and
the athmospere full of blackmailing, raw slaps, paranoia, arrogance and even
fascism, then it usually becomes even worse and the dirty games step up even to
a higher level…
I remembered that I complained all the time during my first visit and
remembered- more than the trip was behind me, stronger feelings, impressions
and emotions I felt in dirty Europe- how beautiful country is actually Georgia.
And how safe; probably one of the safest in the world…
started missing Georgia.
The land of the warmest hospitality. The land where I am still a human with
dignity. The land where humor- the best therapy for the soul- is still allowed
and welcome and not suspicious and hunted like in most of Europe. The land of
the fantastic cuisine where even me as a professional cook can only say: »Hat
down!« And where each ingredient is
natural and tasty and not chemical and plastic like European bullshit. The land
which I love and where I am loved.
when I am in Sakartvelo I always also feel something bitter in my throat: the
fact that Georgians are so warm, giving me the hospitality which I don't
deserve, while in most of Europe and particulary in the countries like Slovenia
we have double norms about approach to foreigners: those who come from richer
countries we lick their asses, those who come from poorer countries we ignore
and many times even humiliate. What a shame! I wrote we, but I believe that me
personally don't practice this primitive methods. We are all humans and people
all around the world love life. And people who experienced the war or even more
wars and refugees, love life even much more than spoiled and empty Europeans
where, fortunatelly, there was mostly no war in last seventy years…
After that you came back to us yes?
in 2014 I returned to Georgia.
This time with some plans which should be fulfilled…
average Western persons don't know much about Georgia. Very few know something
about wine and tea. Almost everybody believe that Georgian main language is
russian and don't know that they have own language ( Until my first visit I
believed that I am talented for languages, now I don't believe anymore, because
georgian language is sooo difficult. And georgian letters also.) Only about 40%
percent know that the capital city of Georgia is Kiev (hey, cinism), most of
the others think that's Moscow, many have no idea and less than 5% would answer
Tbilisi, which is, of course, wrong, because the capital city of Georgia is…
Bucarest? Ha, ha, ha…
a priori plan was to once see Kazbegi. So, together with my both georgian
»sisters«, heavy metal »nephew« and his heavy metal girlfriend we went on first
Sunday to Stepantsminda. Stopped first on the point of view between Gudauri and
Jvari pass, in Stepantsminda hired a car
to Gergeti Sameba, which is a fantastic place and, believe me or not, I even
knew before. From wikipedia, of course.
Stopped in Stepantsminda for lunch and coffee and returned to Tbilisi.
evidently a fantastic area, but we had all day cloudy and rainy and I haven't
seen Mount Kazbegi at all. So, somewhere in the
future I plan to return there and for more than one day, because there's still
a lot to be seen.
I still had ten days in Georgia;
so, what can I still do? Because of the meningitis consequences I prefer the
mountains. Actually I prefer variegate landscapes, but in July and August in
Georgia there's very hot and, hey, I already survived hot Samtskhe Javakheti and this year a part of hot Kakheti, so the truth must be somewhere between… I
crystalized my plan which is to see all the main places in Georgian Caucasus…
my »sister« contacted her former colleague who has the touristic agency; today
I can say that's not a typical agency, but more a wide family where I've
finally found friends also from the civilian life. Particulary georgian women
who I adore, because they are beautiful, but particulary still femine women,
not like here in Europe where many women behave like men. And many men behave
like women. Chinchari! Ha, ha, ha…
What was the best adventure for you in Georgia?
two days in hot Tbilisi I joined my new »family« at the five-days
trip to Svaneti. The words can not describe… First time in the West Georgia, Imereti,
Samegrelo and then the road to heaven.
day, before the night, after stopped in Zugdidi, Enguri reservoir and beautiful romantic mountain village
Mazeri, we arrived to Mestia and visited
a part of that little town… Did I
mention that my favourite dish is kubdari?
morning we started to the legendary Ushguli, the highest all year inhabited
community in Europe.
thru the valley
of Mulkhura, with Ushba
all the time behind and above us stopped first in Ipari and then in Kala. By the way, the orthodox
people are much more religious than catholics which I am. But I believe that we
are tolerant to each other.
the stop in the romantic village church we had a short climb to the next church
above Kala. The view from that church was amazing. And, yes, Ushba, no matter
that its summit sleeped in the clouds for a while, was the dominant peak again.
on the macadam road, which was somewhere really very narrow and dangerous we
arrived to Ushguli, the most romantic village I have seen so far. And the view
to the highest Georgian peak Shkhara is priceless and marvelous. And the sunset
breakfast we took a walk to Lamaria church which is at the highest point in the
highest village. You could whisper to Shkhara from that point…
the other corners of Ushguli and slowly
went back, but stopped at- how lovely name- the Tower of love, and returned to
Mestia, visited the regional museum and from its roof got the most beautiful
view to the town and its surroundings.
the Svans didn't forget their tradition and for dinner, among many other tasty
dishes, we had kubdari again. Heaven!
four. The glacial of Mestiachaala. A short walk by the wild and fast river,
under the peaks hanging high above us, first waterfall, second waterfall,
waterfalls all around us and, bam, the mighty glacial which you can touch and
the water of melting snow creating new and new paths in the ice. …And reminder
that the nature is also woundable…
so beautiful like the view from Koruldi lakes I haven't seen ever in my life.
Being under the mighty Ushba on one side,surrounded with the lakes of the
unrealistic red colored water, being surrounded with a chain of beautiful
mountains and glacials all around, finished with Gistola, Janga and the
legendary Tetnuldi on the other side… The words can not and will never describe!
Being there… The proof that God really exist… And since that day I only search
for the second most beautiful place in my life…
so I am probably a bit unfair to Hatsvali and Zuruldi cottage next day.
/pic046/ I had a company of a golden and very positive girl who I still respect
because of her unbelieveably positive energy and Zuruldi cottage offers a view
from a high altitude, which is always spectacular. And if there was no Koruldi
lakes on previous day, I would easily say that Zuruldi was the best place in my
life… Ah, I know, I am unfair and there was simply too much happines in
previous days for somebody from dirty Europe…
in Latali and long months after that I've found out, here in Slovenia, that
we actually stopped there, where the movie Svani was recorded…
leaving unbelieveable and unforgettable Svaneti, in Barjashi tried my last
kubdari so far. You know, real kubdari, prepared with svanish salt. Which I
have and use all year here in Slovenia…
When I later checked clips at home, I have seen few seconds of a traffic sign
with some very long word… Now you know that georgian language is extremely
difficult and I've spent three days to pronounce Partskhanakanevi. Next
difficult word is Tsavkisistskhali. To simplify I use a word buchqi for all
positive and chinchari for all negative, except… I like georgian lemonades
(otherwise I am an abstinent and don't drink alcohol at all) and because of its
color the lemonades with tarragon flavor I call lemonade chinchari. Women are,
so, very buchqi to me. But a woman who has too much buchqi on wrong parts is
chinchari… Okay, okay, I went completely away from the theme, ha, ha, ha…
Georgians would say »vaimeee!« I would say »partskhanakanevi!«. Oh, gosh, ha,
about 30 km from famous Partskhanakanevi lays less known Kutaisi. Gelati cathedral was under
renovation, but the place which fills the soul with spirituality and we caught
Bagrati rigth at the sunset… …Because, wherever in Georgia I am, I can't influent
to weather and light, because my dates are fixed, but try my best to capture
the best, what that moment brings me. And I am already at next location with
different weather and light. But, hey, I am blessed and priviledged that I can
(still) travel and never forget those who can't, but would definately deserve…
we slowly returned to Tbilisi
and less than two days later I've finished my Georgia 2014.
was this really my best adventure in Georgia? From the point of view of
the landscape beauty no doubt. Svaneti can be easily compared to different »Top
10 World destinations« and it's all up to Georgia and Georgians if someday that
landscape will really be mentioned together with Machu Pichu, Giza pyramides,
Zermatt&Matterhorn, Yellowstone, Paris, Tadj Mahal… I cheer for that and
Sakartvelo deserves it… But there are also another points of view what the best
adventure could be…
year, only three hours after the airplane has landed, we went to a four days
trip to Racha. The same agency, or better wide family, with mostly new faces.
Okay, I sound unfair, but it means a lot to me if in the group is somebody who
speaks english. In this group I had enough english speaking friends and could
participate in the athmosphere. And it's all about the athmosphere, isn't it?
the athmosphere and jokes started from the first moment; like we know each
other for years. Well, they actually really do, but accepted me as a foreigner
in the moment, that was priceless. And it lasted during all the trip. And I
wasn't the only fan of Queen and Pink Floyd in the car, which was also cool…
the best capuccino in Zestaponi which was like a blessing after a sleepless day
on the airplanes and airports, we went by the lake Akhalsopeli
and thru the town Tkibuli /pic054/ to our first destination: the Nine crosses
peak. /pic055/ There was a nice view to the town, lake and somewhere at the end
of horizon we could feel the Black Sea. But
particulary it was a sacred place with exactly nine same crosses (and many more
added later) and the relief of St. George. I always remember any image of him,
because I've got my name by him…
there I've heard for the first time a word buchqi.
in Racha we first passed Shaori lake and
stopped in Nikortsminda with its beautiful and charismatic church /pic058/ and,
after the cool break in front of the cold cave, /pic059/ continued to
Ambrolauri, Barakoni, Oni, the mineral water spring /pic062/ to our final
destination for the first day, Utsera. There
I've heard a new word: sopeli. Well, also I live in sopeli. And a new phrase:
Me dzalian mshia! And the dinner was really tasty and full of everything. Like
always in Georgia.
And we measured how much time spends somebody for shower. Some »stunning«
records were achieved.
morning started with »me dzalian minda qava!«, comments about the shower
records and we were ready to become serious mountainers for two days. The car
ride to Shovi, /pic064/ sleeping bags and tents in our bags and let's go to our
main Racha trip destination: the Bottomless lake under Katitsvera peak, some
1.600 meters higher on almost 3.000 m above the sea level.
was doubtful a bit how is my 44 years body prepared for a serious hike, but
surprisingly the three smokers were actually the fastest. Here would be, in nowaday
text, attached the tongue. After a long and somewhere quite steep and slippery
forest we came there, where I've heard for the first time a word chinchari. And
we really walked between chinchari after chinchari. And had all the time a nice
panorama view to the range of the highest Racha peaks and glacials. And a bit
higher also, bringing back memories from a year ago, to mighty Ushba and
Tetnuldi far away on the horizon.
about two hours also the weather became chinchari and so we had to shorten our
plans, just built the tents and stayed over the night, and postponed the
Bottomless lake for next day; by the first plan we would sleep by the lake.
morning began with marvelous colors /pic068/ and it was actually a luck that we
didn't achieve the lake, which lays a bit down from such a panorama view, on
previous day. The Pink Floyd T-shirt and the other wet clothes of previous day
we've left at the sun and continued up to the mountain saddle, the highest
point of the hike on 2908 metres. /pic069/ And the Bottomless lake was finally
in front of our eyes.
I am unfair again, but in Slovenia
we have a 150 km long river of the same color (But the beauty of some country
doesn't mean anything if the human nature is evil. I must write this, with all
possible consequences.), so I stayed on the pass because of some other reason:
the geological art of nature on Katitsvera and its neighbours. That was the
real magic to me… /pic071/ But it's true: the Bottomless lake like a nest under
the geologically playful peaks is just stunning and the cameras love it! And it
was worth walking two days.
down, ruined the tents and picked our drier clothes, later one more dose of
chinchari weather and we were back to Shovi where the local men wanted, as on
previous morning when we started the hike, to immediately marry our beautiful
to Utsera I tried all my best to be the first in the shower. Just to avoid
different records from the first day.
the very warm family in a cozy house in Utsera /pic073/ drove down to the
synagogue in Oni, /pic074/ took a break
for the ice cream and continued all the way, partly the road full of
adrenaline, to Mravaldzali. A lonely place for the soul with a church dedicated
to the saint who's name I've got- St. George.
you count? Yes, this was our fourth, so the last, day of the trip to Racha.
Still a stop for swimming near Ambrolauri,
sunset by Tkibuli (Akhalsopeli) lake
and return to Tbilisi.
I must expose still something from the trip to Racha. A girl, she will easily
recognize herself, who was all the time like my guide and translator. A real
golden angel who frequently stopped chating in georgian language with her
long-years georgian friends and focused all her attention in english language
to me. And also because of her the athmosphere in Racha was amazing. I send her
my kisses from here!
you have Georgian friends?
two days I've spent in a very hot Tbilisi
for… It's actually a sweet problem how to sail there in the future with the
fact that I want to discover more and more new places in Georgia and the fact
that every next year I get just more and more new friends, mostly from Tbilisi,
who I wish to spend with as much time as possible… So, I've spent two days,
before the trip to Tusheti, available for friends (Or, as one of them said,-
and I actually liked it, no matter that comparation was strange, but funny-
that I am some kind of prostitute of friendship: available to everybody and
offer the best quality of humor and attention to everybody. Well,… Ha, ha,
Tbilisi is a beautiful city,
beautiful more than any European city I have seen so far. Because it's a long
milleniums history concentrated onto the small place. And the city with a
charismatic soul and childly innocence. And very safe, compared to the other
cities. The safest so far.
that heat, you know, and my meningitis consequences... The photos can be taken
only in the early morning when the city is mostly still sleeping.
few words about Tusheti. Not enough for a three days long trip…
colorful sunrise in Kakheti /pic084/ and then a 72 km long macadam road (which
was seriously dammaged in the storm just about one week after our visit),
listed as one of ten most dangerous roads in the World, over the Abano pass on almost 3.000 m
/pic086/ all the way to Omalo. And the macadam roads all inside Tusheti.
is like an own world and the landscape reminds to the most beautiful parts of
Swiss or Austrian Alps: little villages and many waterfalls and the high, somewhere all year snow capped,
peaks on the background. An own world which lives only few months a year; most
of the autumn, all the winter and early spring time the Tushs spend in the low
Kakheti villages where are, again, like an own world inside the region…
Keselo, Dochu, Dartlo,
next morning a horse ride from Dartlo over Dano to Kvavlomoved to the end of the world in
Parsma and returned to Mirgvela resort.
the last morning first moved beside Shenako
to Diklo with, by my opinion, the
most beautiful background of high peaks, whom a part belong already to russian Dagestan and went back to Shenako which has even a »real«
to Omalo and, again, those 72 km over Abano pass to the region of Kakheti.
in Alaverdi where's the third largest (after Sameba in Tbilisi and Svetishkoveli in Mtskheta) and
second highest (after Sameba) Georgian cathedral. A very beautiful sacred place
which is also the main church of the Tushs when they are down in the valley.
to Tbilisi where I've finally found time for my
both »sisters« and slightly finished my 2015 georgian adventure and returned in
f…ing cold and depraved Europe.
do you like here the most?
am just a cook, which means somebody from the bottom of the social hierarchy
and so I feel, as first, very priviledged while I am in Georgia. And I
know that my time spent in Georgia
is very unreal and seen only from the brightest side- vacation time- which our
life usually isn't…
like every moment spent with my georgian »sisters«, over and over again, every
year. And different landscapes. Mountains, but also each of the other regions
has its own unique beauties… And the fact that every next year I have new
friends. And the fact that Georgia
is a country which I love and where I'm loved. I adore georgian women; they are
golden, have many skills, mostly very hard working, but still keeping smile and
And the trips, of course.
plan for next year is Khevsureti and Uplistsikhe & Gori which I postpone
every year, no matter that my trips go several times thru Shida Kartli.
the rest of next vacation I still don't know. If I'll get a companion, then
I'll maybe go even to subtropical Black sea
coast (And the photos with female faces are more beautiful, aren't they?) And I
wish to see in the future the rest of Kakheti: Gremi, Signagi… Davit Gareji…,
then Martvili canyon, when we were in Akhaltsikhe the castle was under
renovation, so Rabati castle is also missed on my list, then Adjara, Guria,…
And there are still many corners inside Tbilisi
yes, still a lot to be seen there!
ASnd what about georgian cousine ..
cuisine, I've already mentioned, is fantastic and the skills of using and
combining the spices and herbs probably the best in the world! And in every
home without an official gastronomy education.
a part of my profession I would like to say just few words of georgian tourism:
every next year I see it on the higher level, which is good. I would just like
to see that tourism would be more in georgian hands, particulary in the main
resorts. Because proclaiming a new working places for the locals is not the
point. They get a job which is still low paid, while the most of the profit
goes to the foreign countries where the owners and companies come from and this
doesn't help to the national economy growth. I was very sad when I've heard
that a foreign company builds the ski center on Tetnuldi. Tetnuldi is one of
the symbols of Georgia,
a holly peak which should stay untouched forever. /pic108/
I could say also few critical words about Georgia, but that's actually not my
business. Particulary because that's the country which I love too much. But… I
must mention at least this: If something is writen only with georgian letters,
that's like an enigma for somebody from abroad. And… There's a lot of waste,
particulary by the rivers and lakes. If you have a trip or barbecue somewhere
in the nature, is it so hard to take a plastic bag, pick your waste and throw
it in the first waste container?
new generation is groving up in Georgia.
An internationally oriented generation which can sail between traditional
values and prosperity… Please, give them a chance!
me, I am not addicted to attention and privacy means a lot to me; so, thanks a
lot to give me a chance to show my point of view to Georgia and Georgians. And
Stay buchqi, avoid chinchari and God bless Saqartvelo!