Tag Archives: ashus travels

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: BEING GREEN

For this Week’s Photo Challenge: It is easy being Green, I am sharing couple pictures from my Georgia travel.

Surround oneself with the beauty of nature and enjoy the best moments of the day 🙂 , capturing the different shades of green.

ashusphotography-WPC-Being Green
ashusphotography-Georgia travel
ashusphotography-Georgia Travel
ashusphotography-Georgia travel (Gudauri)
ashusphotography-Georgia travel (Gudauri)

ashu

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: ATOP

The Weekly Photo Challenge: Atop

For this photo challenge I am sharing pictures clicked  at night from  At The Top, Burj Khalifa, the 124th floor Observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai, using my iPad-Air.

ashus photography-View below from At The Top, Burj Khalifa.
ashus photography-View below from At The Top, Burj Khalifa.

The view below from here leaves one spell bound, it is truly magical. 🙂

ashu

 

 

 

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: WISH

My entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Wish.

Jen has asked us to show a wish and let our blog be the ema to share it upon.

We often see people visiting places of worship and praying for their wishes to be granted. I am wishing here that all the wishes of those who wished at these places gets fulfilled 🙂 .

I wish for peace and happiness to all.

Manakamana Temple, Pokhara, Nepal
Visitors going to the Tal Barahi Temple, Phewa Lake, Pokhara Nepal
Devis Falls, Pokhara, Nepal

People usually make a wish and throw a coin into the water, may all their wishes get fulfilled.

Wishing you all a great day ahead.

ashu

 

 

Georgia Travel Diary 5-Wine Cellar Visit

ashusPhotography-Georgian Wine
ashusPhotography-Georgian Wine

When visiting the beautiful country Georgia, one has to include visits to the lush green vineyards, orchards, wine cellars and not to forget to taste the locally made wine.

ashusPhotograpy-Vineyards on both sides of the road.
ashusPhotograpy-Vineyards
img_0663
ashusPhotograpy-Vineyards on both sides of the road.

Georgia is famous and known for its ancient traditional method of wine making, and this method is inscribed in UNESCO intangible heritage list. Wine is a very integral part of every Georgian’s daily life with all the festivities and their different rituals. Wine making is a national occupation, almost all houses have grape vines growing in their land and the method of wine making is passed on from generations to generations. They use the wine making method in which an egg-shaped earthen clay pot known as Kvevri or Qvevri is used to make wine.(I am not sure about the spelling). The Georgian farmers use the Qvevri for making the wine, ageing it and then storing it. Hence this method of wine making is known as the Qvevri method.

ashusPhotography-Qvevri
ashusPhotography-Qvevri
ashusPhtograpy-Qvevri seen in Khareba Winery
ashusPhtograpy-Qvevri seen in Khareba Winery

Our Georgia tour package included a tour visit of a 300-year-old wine cellar as mentioned in the brochure given to us by our guide Nino. It was something new, different and  a fabulous experience to visit the wine cellar.

ashusPhotography-Wine cellar
ashusPhotography-Wine cellar
ashusPhotography-the wine being taken out from the qvevri that is seen buried in the ground in the wine cellar.
ashusPhotography-the wine cellar floor with the buried qvevris that are below the circular lids seen in the picture.
img_4112
ashusPhotography-the wine being taken out from the qvevri that is seen buried in the ground in the wine cellar.

The farmer had both the Red and White wines that he removed in front of us from the Qvevri that were buried deep in the ground in his cellar. The cellar was dark inside, no sunlight could come in, the walls were thick, stone and brick made. There were many old vessels, machinery, lamps, wine making tools and quite a number of assorted pots, pans, pitchers and jars that were displayed of which some might not be in use now.

ashusPhotography-wine making tools
ashusPhotography-wine making tools
ashusPhotography- The wine cellar with empty barrels, wine making tools, pots, and jars
ashusPhotography- The wine cellar with empty barrels, wine making tools, pots, and jars

Their were number of empty wine bottles stacked  very neatly in the wall, big jars, bottles filled with liquid and lemon cubes inside.

ashusPhotography-Stacked empty wine bottles
ashusPhotography-Stacked empty wine bottles

 

ashusPhotography-stacked empty bottles
ashusPhotography-Liquid filled bottle with lemon
ashusPhotograpy-wine jars/Pitchers
ashusPhotograpy-wine jars/Pitchers

img_4129

It is a Georgian tradition to offer the  local bread Shotti along with the wine, this farmer too offered us the bread. I loved the wine pots and pitchers, but unfortunately I could not buy any as souvenirs as I kept thinking I will see them some place, but did not like the ones that I came across in the souvenir shops.

ashusPhotography-wine offered for tasting and the Georgian bread called Shotti
ashusPhotography-wine offered for tasting and the Georgian bread called Shotti
ashusPhotograpy-Red wine being taken out for tasting from the buried qvevri.
ashusPhotograpy-Red wine being taken out for tasting from the buried qvevri.

Our guide Nino helped us understand how the wine is made, as the farmer could not speak English. I am writing and sharing here whatever I can recollect of the Georgian wine making method that she told us, everything was so new and interesting that I had no time to jot down each and every word of hers :).

The grapes are collected, pressed and the juice then poured into the Qvevri along with the skin, stalks, and the pips. It is then sealed and buried into the ground so that the wine can ferment for five or six months before it is opened and drunk. The wine is then kept for ageing. The Qvevri facilitates the process of  formation and ageing with the minerals that are part of it’s composition. This method of wine making is found all over the country. After the wine is removed the left over chacha-skin, stalks and pip is used to make the drink called chacha through a process, and this drink Chacha (Georgian name) is also know as Vodka. We can see that nothing from the grape plant is wasted, the whole plant gets used to make both the wine and Vodka. The local farmer at whose house we ate the Georgian lunch served us all types of drinks- Wine both red as well as white, Chacha/Vodka, and Champagne. I will make another post of the Georgian feast, Supra as they call it.

ashusPhotography-wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia
ashusPhotography-wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia
ashusPhotography-Picture showing a qvevri buried in the wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia
ashusPhotography-Picture showing a qvevri buried in the wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia

The grape varieties used determine if it is Red or White wine. We visited the many monasteries in the country and could see the wine cellars using this traditional wine making methods. The Rkatsteli and Mtsvane varieties of the grapes are used to produce the White wine. The Saperavi grape variety is used to make the Red wine.

ashusPhotography-Red wine
ashusPhotography-Red wine offered for tasting.
ashusPhotography-White wine
ashusPhotography-White wine offered from tasting

The Satsnakheli is a wooden trough usually made from a single wood that is used for as a manual foot stumping wine press.

ashusPhotography-Satsnakheli: a foot stumping wine press seen in wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia
ashusPhotography-Satsnakheli: a foot stumping wine press seen in wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia

It was no longer used by this wine maker as told by our guide. The grapes are put into the Satsnakheli, then manually foot pressed and the juice is directly collected in the Qvevri. Later the grape skins, stalks and pips left in the Satsnakheli are put into the Qvevris.

ashusPhotography-Satsnakheli that is no longer used for wine press by the wine maker.
ashusPhotography-Satsnakheli that is no longer used for wine press by the wine maker.

A visit to the wine cellar would not be complete if we did not buy the farmers homemade wine, and we bought one bottle of the red wine.

ashusPhotograpy-Our purchase of homemade Red wine bottle.
ashusPhotograpy-Our purchase of homemade Red wine bottle.

img_4151

As we sat and chatted along with our guide, the farmer was busy with another group of tourist who had come to visit his wine cellar.

ashusPhotography-Grape vine, Kiwi plants, qvevri in the courtyard of the local farmer
ashusPhotography-Grape vine, Kiwi plants, qvevri in the courtyard of the local farmer

As I already mentioned at the start of the post that this Qvevri method of wine making is inscribed in UNESCO intangible heritage list, hence, if you are visiting Georgia, do visit a wine cellar or winery and see it in person and get the joy of tasting the local wines.

I had a great trip and hence wished to share few details of the trip for those tourists who look up websites, blogs for information before traveling or picking up a travel destination. Are you one of them?  I sure am :).

If you want to check out my other posts on Georgia click the below number links-

Georgia Travel diary 1,

Georgia Travel 2,

Georgia travel 3,

Georgia travel 4

Hope to see you back to check out my next post that will be on the Georgian Supra.

Enjoy! Happy Traveling 🙂

ashu

Georgia Travel Diary 3-Georgian Bread

Food is an essential component of any travel that one embarks upon. If I am traveling to a new destination, my mind first searches for the food/cuisine found in that place. This is not only because I love to eat and cook, but would hold true for most travel enthusiast. Traveling is the journey that one sets upon to learn new things about the place one visits, it’s people, it’s culture and its food and cuisine, and in the process to discover or rediscover oneself too. This would be the true definition of what traveling means for me.

As already mentioned in the Georgia travel Diary : 1 blog post, the food, wine and oldest wine making method of this place was what drew us to visit the country Georgia. I would like to share the pictures that I took when I visited the local bakery.

Shoti-Georgia bread
Shoti-Georgia bread

Local bakeries making the Georgian Bread called Shoti is a typical sight that we get to see in all the streets. This local and typical Georgian bread that is called Shoti or Shoti puri can be similar to the Indian bread called Tandoor Roti or Naan, or to the Afghani Naan or the Arabic Kuboos that I see here in the UAE. All these require the Tandoors or clay ovens for baking the bread. It is customary to be serving the Shoti along with wine, the local winemaker we visited told us and offered us this bread and samples of his homemade wine-both the red wine as well as the white wine.

Wine tasting at the local wine maker

Wine tasting at the local wine maker, see he offered us the bread.

I saw this bread bakery in Kvareli town. After our day trip was over and our hired taxi dropped us at the hotel, we set out on foot to explore the peaceful town of Kvareli.

IMG_1061

Kvareli Town
Kvareli Town
Kvareli (City Centre) Town
Kvareli (City Centre) Town

After stopping to taste the local ice-cream at the supermarket shops lining the road, we came across people carrying freshly baked bread in paper rolls or sheets. I followed the road from where I saw people were coming with bread and reached this bakery. It was already late in evening and the baker was busy baking the last batch of bread. I requested for clicking the snaps and he immediately agreed. He could not speak English and still we were able to communicate, this is best part of any travel. He was busy doing his job without being bothered by my questions or me moving around in his bakery to click the pictures of the bread being baked.

The oven is called Tone. It more or less resembled an Indian Tandoor, only the shape could be bit different if I am not wrong.

The oven to bake Shoti is called Tone.
The oven to bake Shoti is called Tone.
IMG_4581
The tools used to remove the bread from the hot oven.
The bread dough
The bread dough
This could be the vessel to make the dough
This could be the vessel to make the dough
The special tools to remove the bread from the oven.
The special tools to remove the bread from the oven.
With one he scraps the bread free from oven and with the other looped one he lifts the bread, using both he removes the bread from the oven.IMG_4583
The baker expertly removes the hot bread from the Tone.
The baker expertly removes the hot bread from the Tone.
IMG_1067
The hot bread from the oven is kept on the wooden rack to cool and sold to customers as they walk into the bakery.
Freshly Baked Shoti.
Freshly Baked Shoti.

As we were watching the baker busy with the bread making, we saw two customers walk into the bakery, purchase the bread and walked away, it was wonder in their eye to see me busy clicking away pictures with my camera.

The freshly made bread smelled so amazing and our mouths watered and suddenly I felt so hungry. Every Resturant meal I ate I had ordered this Shoti bread. I am fond of any type of Tandoor roti or bread and hence it was perfect for me to eat this typical Georgian bread at every meal during my full tour. 🙂

Enjoy!!

ashu

Georgia Travel Diary- 1

ashusTravels-Tbilisi, Georgia.
ashusTravels-Tbilisi, Georgia

Summer holidays for kids brought up the decision to go sightseeing and my elder one took up the responsibility to decide the travel destination for this summer of 2016. After having gone through a list of lot many places to select from, she had decided on Cambodia, and since the flight from UAE is via Bangkok, so it was going to be Bangkok and Cambodia. But then the scenic beauty and direct flight to Georgia was looked up, this food and wine destination stole our hearts and finally the tickets for Georgia were booked. The vineyards and oldest wine making method used in Georgia were the deciding factors for selection of this travel destination. I am writing this post after visiting the country, so I am happy to say here that it was a good choice. We went for a seven days tour, but the last two days of the tour being very hot made me think that a 4-5 days travel would have sufficed as we were going on vacation to escape from the UAE summer sun. It is a small, less populated and quiet Country with serene, beautiful scenic views of the mountains, countryside, friendly people and extremely safe to roam around even late in the night. We saw police patrols everywhere in Tbilisi when we were out  having a late dinner and later roaming the streets and shopping till late in the night.

It is a direct flight to Tbilisi from Dubai, takes you 3 hrs. to reach and visa was on arrival for the UAE residents. Air Travel was okay, a short sitting time at the Dubai airport lounge, some snacks and sweets tucked in the tummy and we set out for the short three hour air travel. The passport control at the Tbilisi airport was also quick and soon we were near the exit searching for our tour guide, Nino, a young smart girl, who was waiting for us along with the driver of the vehicle that was going to be our transport for the rest of our tour. And our seven day Georgia travel started and it was a good experience with two wonderful people, one spoke English and one could not. The driver was extremely caring and though he could not speak English, but we somehow managed to converse with Nino’s help. The advantage of travelling in private hired vehicle/hired taxi is it allows us to spend more time at places that are of our interest., the kids get to relax and be comfortable so that they are not cranky all the time 🙂 !

Tbilisi city tour through my eyes: We started the city tour in the hired taxi and I got busy click pictures through the car window.

Tbilisi
TbilisiIMG_3598
Freedom Square
Freedom SquareIMG_3668

It is a city founded in 5th Century AD, named after the hot spring found here, The streets are cobbled streets as we see in any European country and is a good blend of the old and new. Here we can find Georgian orthodox, Armenian Gregorian, Roman Catholic churches, Synagogue and Zoroastrian temple in close vicinity to each other. It was sure interesting to see this.

IMG_0222

Tbilisi means warm in Georgian and I can tell it sure was quite warm in July. Most of the sightseeing in Tbilisi is in the old town, and all the sites are within walking distance, yeah it helps if one is wearing comfortable shoes. We got down from the taxi and walked around the town on foot, yes the sun was at its peak so be prepared to carry a hat or cap and use sun block for protection of the skin.

IMG_0066

IMG_0047

IMG_0062

IMG_3708

IMG_0206 IMG_0204

After an anxious lunch, as I was tasting the Georgian cuisine for the first time, we started our old town Tbilisi tour on foot with our tummies full of yummy meal.

IMG_3694 IMG_3702 IMG_3699

The first stop was Sulfur bath. It was amazing and also breathtaking to see the town and cobbled streets and looking up skywards to see the green lush mountains and blue sky with pure white cotton candy like clouds floating past. For me the picture was just out of a children’s reading book that show lovely mountains with beautiful blue skies. I was already getting soaked into the beauty of this city.

Abanotubani Sulfur Bath District

Sulfur Bath District
Sulfur Bath District

IMG_0070 IMG_0071 IMG_0078 IMG_0085 IMG_0102

Water fall, coming from the Botanical gardens (as per our guide Nino)

Souvenir shops lining the Sulfur Bath area
Souvenir shops lining the Sulfur Bath area
IMG_0154
Wine bottles displayed by the local Restaurants as we move through the old town.
IMG_0157
Grape vines
IMG_0149
Sioni Cathedral

IMG_0144

Sioni Cathedral- considered the most sacred places in the country, holds the holy cross of St. Nino. Our guide also named Nino told us St. Nino was the young woman who converted Georgia to Christianity in the early 4th Century.

IMG_0161
Peace Bridge, Tbilisi

IMG_0272 IMG_0274

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Tbilisi
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Tbilisi

Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi is an important cathedral, and is the main Georgian orthodox cathedral. One is supposed to cover the head with a scarf and also no shorts allowed when we entered the churches in Georgia.

It was a learning experience for this traveler to know that almost all religious places be it the temples in India, the Gurudwaras, the Churches, or the Mosque that I visited in Abu Dhabi require us to cover our head, wear full length before we enter these holy places.

IMG_0294

IMG_0329
Narikala Fortress

Narikala Fortress, a medieval fortification overlooking the Sololaki district. The panorama view from the Narikala fortress of the old town Tbilisi is quiet interesting, we get ample classic shots of the Tbilisi city from here.

Botanical Garden, Tbilis
Botanical Garden, Tbilis
IMG_0331
Panorama view from Narikala Fortress, Tbilisi
Panoramic view of Tbilisi from Narikala Fortress
Panoramic view of Tbilisi from Narikala Fortress
IMG_0350
Old TV Tower, Tbilisi
IMG_0347_1
Mtastminda Amusement park, Tbilisi

These above pictures were clicked from the top near the fortress. We have a rope-way to come down into the city from the top of Narikala fortress. We drove our taxi to the top but we returned down using the cable car.

IMG_0341

IMG_3885
Looking down from the cable car

IMG_3888

IMG_3891
The Mtkvari river and the Peace bridge captured from the cable car ride.

IMG_0340

IMG_3892

We get down from the cable car and walk out to this monument that says Europe Square.

‘Travelling leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller’- Ibn Batuta

The quote perfectly describes my thoughts, and here I make an effort to take you along on the travels through my posts with the travel pictures captured by me.

This was our first day site-seeing in Tbilisi, Georgia. Hope you all liked going through the pictures as much as I loved sharing them here with you all. More about this beautiful country famous for its wine making and food in another post on the blog tomorrow.

ashu.

 

 

 

 

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: MORNING

My entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning.

This was the view of the Caucasian mountains that I first saw in the morning from my hotel window during my recent visit to Gudauri, Georgia.

Gudauri is famous for its Ski slopes, and the mountains were beautifully green in color at this time, which otherwise would be white as covered in snow during the winters. I could see the mountain tops covered in snow, some not even visible due to thick fog, moving clouds, in some parts the clear blue sky and the welcoming coldness in air. It was a beautiful morning, and I enjoyed soaking in the view.

As I reside in the UAE and currently experiencing the extreme summer months in this region, and when your morning starts with bright and harsh sun rays gleaming through the window and waking you , just close the eyes and  visualize the perfect cold morning of Gudauri.

ashusphotography
ashusphotography
Gudauri, Georgia.
Gudauri, Georgia.

IMG_4862

ashu 🙂

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: NARROW

My entry for the Weekly photo challenge Narrow.

This picture was clicked during my visit to Mahabalipuram, Chennai, India in December 2015.

Climbing the narrow Spiral stairs is always an experience in itself, be it this one or the many others that I have got the opportunity to climb on. The most memorable one for me was the climb up the spiral staircase to the top of the dome at the Vatican in Rome.

#ashusphotography
#ashusphotography

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: LOOK UP

My entry for the weekly photo challenge: Look up.

Georgia, a country famous for its traditional method of wine making and its food. More talk about its food in other posts. The moment I stepped foot in this country, one thing that drew my attention were the beautiful lampposts and the numerous water fountains.

For this weekly photo challenge, I selected couple of pictures from my Georgian travels. These simple, some intricate and tall lampposts made me look up and the blue sky with white clouds that looked like cotton candy made it a perfect click for me. The fruits on the fruit laden trees and the tall trees with branches close together with the towering lamppost amidst it made me instantly click what I saw and liked. In the night, the glowing bulbs of the lamppost in a Tbilisi square were too beautiful to be missed out.

During the hike to the Gergeti Trinity Church in Georgia, after reaching the top, the flight of the Eagle and the blue clear sky above was too beautiful and worth looking up, and hence sharing the picture below.

IMG_4822
Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up
Eagle in the sky
Eagle in the sky
IMG_5059
Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up
IMG_5568
Weekly Photo Challenge: Look up
Weekly Photo Challenge: Look up
Weekly Photo Challenge: Look up
Lamppost in Tbilisi, Georgia
Lamppost in Tbilisi, Georgia
Lamppost in Tbilisi, Georgia
Lamppost in Tbilisi, Georgia
Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up
Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up
IMG_5587
Weekly Photo Challenge: Look up.
IMG_5593
Lamppost in Tbilisi, Georgia

Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up

Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up

I found them interesting, loved clicking the pictures, and enjoyed sharing for this post. All the pictures were clicked using my iphone 6 cell camera.

ashu

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: DETAILS

My entry for the weekly photo challenge-Details.

I have always had a great wish to see the Sunflower field from close quarters ever since I had seen the pictures that my hubby had clicked during one of his tours to Europe. As they say, if you wish earnestly the wish is soon to be fulfilled :), no harm in believing it, right!

During the recent Georgia travel, as our car was passing through this stretch of road outside of Tbilisi, we saw fields of sunflower that were unapproachable from the road, but requested our driver if he could stopover when he sees one near by the road so we can click pictures. We were lucky and did get to click lots of memorable pictures, and sharing below the ones that I find perfect as my entry for this challenge.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Details
Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

I tried as best to reach the height of at least one sunflower so that I could zoom in on the details of the inside of the flower, and below is that picture, the result of my efforts. Nature is so beautiful!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Details
” Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

I wanted to also zoom in the details of some newly bloomed flowers, but I was not able to reach them as they were too inside in the middle of the field. Also, I was apprehensive of any bees or bugs on the plants, there were many flying around, and I wanted my further travel to be bug free :).

Hoping to hear your thoughts on the post my dear reader friends. Wish you all a bright as a sunflower kinda good day. 🙂

ashu

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: CHERRY ON TOP

For the weekly photo challenge Cherry on top, I find this picture the perfect choice.

This was clicked during my recent travel to the beautiful land Georgia, a small country by population when compared to my homeland India, famous for its wine and food.

This picture was shot while travelling in a car and going uphill to reach the Mtatsminda Amusement park in Tbilisi, Georgia. I was fascinated by the hide and seek of the sun rays as our car was moving along the curved roads climbing uphill. The giant wheel came in sight and as I was getting it in the frame, the bright rays of the setting sun just peeped in through the trees, giving the wheel and the picture the perfect glow and shine. I absolutely loved this shot, and the capture of the sun rays made the wheel and this a perfect shot for me, the cherry on top kinda feel :).

Weekly Photo Challenge: Cherry on Top
Weekly Photo Challenge: Cherry on Top

Looking forward to your views and thoughts on the post.

ashu.