Weekend Trips: Telavi

I’ve gotten into a comfortable routine of spending my weekdays in Gori, working on teacher training workshops and other projects at the university, and then meeting up with the ETAs or other volunteers for trips around Georgia on the weekends.

Our first trip was about three weeks ago, when Jess and I traveled to eastern Georgia to visit Sara, another ETA living and working in a city called Telavi.  Telavi is in Kakheti (the most famous wine region of the country), and Telavino (a local wine festival) was happening there that weekend.

As you’ll see, I found Telavi to be a beautiful and colorful place; this particular post is full of pictures!

Telavino-- you couldn't come up with a better name for a vino festival in Telavi!

Telavino— you couldn’t come up with a better name for a vino festival in Telavi!

Jess met me in Gori and we took a taxi to Telavi.  (Taxi travel is incredibly common here; it still surprises me, but it is a nice way to get around).  The drive itself was beautiful; once we were east of Tbilisi we drove through rolling hills and gorgeous mountains where the leaves were just beginning to change colors.  Our driver stopped several times so we could take pictures of the scenery.

The view on the way to Telavi

The view on the way to Telavi

Somewhere between Tbilisi and Telavi

Somewhere between Tbilisi and Telavi

More of the view

More of the view

It was really a beautiful fall day!

It was really a beautiful fall day!

When we arrived in Telavi, I was struck by how clean and new the city, or at least the city center, looked.  Sara’s apartment is in the center, and has an incredible view!

Telavi

Telavi– pretty, clean, and cute!

The view from Sara's apartment in Telavi

The view from Sara’s apartment in Telavi

It was already early evening by the time we got to Telavi, so we set off pretty quickly for one of the wineries nearby that was still open (Shumi Winery).  Shumi also has a wine history museum at its winery and vineyards, which was pretty interesting.

We visited the museum and had a small tour of the winery before tasting.  Our guide was great; she was very kind and knowledgeable, and happy to give us big pours so that I could take pictures of the wine going from the bottle into the glasses 🙂 .

Clay pots in the wine museum

Clay pots in the wine museum

Barrels of aging wine.

Barrels of aging wine.

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Wine cellar

Georgian Qvevri (ქვევრი): The traditional (and ancient) vessel for aging wine. Using traditional methods, Georgians put the wine in these clay pots and bury them in the ground to age.

Georgian Qvevri (ქვევრი): The traditional (and ancient) vessel for aging wine. Using traditional methods, Georgians put the wine in these clay pots and bury them in the ground to age.

Our wonderful wine taster and tour guide!

Our wonderful wine taster and tour guide!

Wine tasting with Jess (left) and Sara (right)

Wine tasting with Jess (left) and Sara (right)

Mmmm, saperavi. This is my favorite variety of red grape so far.

Mmmm, saperavi. This is my favorite variety of red grape so far.

After tasting the wines and a cognac made there, we wandered through the grape vines.  More than 150 varieties of grapes are grown in Georgia!  The pictures below show just a few of them; also, notice examples of all the consonant clusters that I’ve been referring to in posts about the Georgian language. 🙂

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Autumn grapes :)

Autumn grapes 🙂

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Raisins!

Raisins!

By the time we left, it was getting late, so we headed to another nearby winery / hotel / restaurant for dinner.  We got stuck in a little traffic on the way there:

mooooove!

Mooooove!

It was hard to get a good picture from where I was sitting, but you get the idea :)

It was hard to get a good picture from where I was sitting, but you get the idea 🙂

Sunday morning we enjoyed coffee and breakfast on Sara’s balcony, admiring the view of the mountains:

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Caucasus Mountains

You're never too far from the nearest grape!

You’re never too far from the nearest grape!

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Grape leaves (grapevine leaves?) in the morning light

After breakfast we went to Telavi’s bazar, which was quite an experience!  I was overwhelmed by the colors, sounds, and smells. Everywhere you looked were vivid vegetables, churchkhela stands, coffee beans, spices, and meat, meat, meat.  The people working there were very friendly had happy to give out samples.  We also had the opportunity to buy extremely fresh chicken, if we wished.  (We didn’t wish).

Inside Telavi's bazar

Inside Telavi’s bazar

Fruits and veggies

Fruits and veggies

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Pomegranates

Pomegranates

mmmmmm :)

mmmmmm 🙂

Churchkhela everywhere!

Churchkhela everywhere!

This woman was super sweet and gave us lots of samples of churchkhela and real fruit leather

This woman was super sweet and gave us lots of samples of churchkhela and real fruit leather.

Churchkhela and fruit leather

Churchkhela and fruit leather

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I think it says, “gherghili simindis vl” (or possibly 3 l, as in 3 lari?) … I’m not sure… I believe the second word is “corn”? … Corn meal, perhaps?

Coffee beans!

Coffee beans!

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Vegetarians, beware!!  The next few pictures contain meat it its various stages from animal to something you would cook… (Also, even if you’re a meat eater, this is your warning…).

Chickens for sale...

Chickens for sale…

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This is what happens after you buy the chicken...

This is what happens after you buy the chicken…

If you prefer pork, there was plenty of that available too:

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Eventually we left the bazar and, quite hungry, headed toward the festival.  Before getting there, we made two stops.  First, to see Old Town Telavi (which, like Gori, also seems quite new), and secondly, to eat khinkali at Sara’s favorite khinkali spot.

In Telavi's Old Town area

In Telavi’s Old Town area

I just thought these were pretty

I just thought these were pretty

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I love these balconies. You see them a lot in Tbilisi’s Old Town area too.

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After lunch, just as we left the restaurant and neared the beginning of the festival, it started to pour!  This was actually the first time I had even seen rain in Georgia at all, and we were completely unprepared; none of us had a rain jacket, an umbrella, or anything at all.  Luckily, one of the vendors at the festival let us huddle inside his tent; I ended up doing some Christmas shopping while we were in there, and we got to hide out from the rain with these guys:

Their dance performance later that afternoon was my favorite of all the performances; fun and lively!

Their dance performance later that afternoon was my favorite of all the performances; fun and lively!

The rain didn’t last too long, and we were free to wander around the festival, taste wines from local wineries, and watch traditional singing and dancing performances.

Welcome to Telavino

Welcome to Telavino

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Pre-performance selfie

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Getting ready to dance (I didn’t have my nice camera out, and it was hard to get good action shots on my phone).

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Look closely... Smart phones: all ages, all places

Look closely… Tablets: all ages, all places

Sampling wines :)

Sampling wines 🙂

I’d guess that around ten different wineries were at the festival with their wines.  All the pours were free, and it was a great way to learn about the different wines and wineries in the area.

This was definitely helpful for planning future trips to the Kakheti region for visitors, and I have lots of ideas now… so come visit me!

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5 thoughts on “Weekend Trips: Telavi

  1. I can’t believe all the spectacular pictures you are able to take – like you’re a National Geographic regular!  What a colorful place full of interesting people. Annelies

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  2. It is so fun to see how much Georgia looks like Romania: the scenery, the people, the vineyards, the houses… even those cows blocking the road! Oh, and I bet those grapes aren’t like anything you’ve tasted before, right? :))

    Like

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