Staying in a windmill, Alentejo, Portugal

Staying in a windmill, Alentejo, Portugal

Diana found us one of the most unique accommodations we’ve ever stayed in: a historic Portuguese windmill on a hilltop in a rural part of the Alentejo Province. We stayed here for three nights. The airbnb host directed us to the small village of São Francisco da Serra, where her parents have a little coffee shop. With our limited Portuguese we were able to introduce ourselves, and we got the keys to the mill.

A visit to the Republic of Georgia

A visit to the Republic of Georgia

The Republic of Georgia (not to be confused with the US state) is a small country at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains. Georgia has been independent since the early 1990s. It has recently gained a reputation as being a very friendly and welcoming place with some nice sites to visit, and on top of that fantastic food and wine. All the travel magazines and websites had listed it for “places to go” in 2016. It got our attention, so we decided to go check it out.

Davit-Gareja, Georgia

Davit-Gareja, Georgia

When we traveled from Kakheti back to Tbilisi, we arranged for a sidetrip to Davit-Gareja. Davit-Gareja is a monastery on the Georgia-Azerbajan border. The landscape here looks somewhat like parts of Utah or New Mexico, and as such it is quite different than the areas visited before. Around Telavi and Tbilisi are wooded hills and agricultural lands with vineyards, but here there are extensive grasslands and exposures of reddish sandstone.

Doing the chacha in Kakheti, Georgia

Doing the chacha in Kakheti, Georgia

We stayed at Neli and Zaal guesthouse. It was an absolutely wonderful place. Before traveling to Georgia we had heard about Georgians’ exceptional hospitality, and here is where we found it. We have traveled extensively over the years, and I can tell you that hospitality like this is rare. We had planned to stay for two nights, and ended up staying three. We’ll always remember our stay with Zaal and Neli.

The Caucasus Mountains: traveling to Kazbegi, Georgia

The Caucasus Mountains: traveling to Kazbegi, Georgia

From Tbilisi we traveled to Kazbegi in the Caucasus Mountains. The route goes up the Georgian Military Highway, which is the main route north to Russia (Chechnya). It’s several hours of driving, and we hired a driver to take us there. There were some fruit stands along the highway, and we asked our driver Gaila to stop. We first stopped at a watermelon stand on the outskirts of Tbilisi.

The Caucasus Mountains: hiking Kazbegi, Georgia

The Caucasus Mountains: hiking Kazbegi, Georgia

We spent a day hiking to Gergeti Trinity Church and the alpine meadows above it. Most tourists have themselves driven up in Lada 4x4s on a rutted, rocky road. We almost got carsick just looking at the cars bouncing in the track, and decided to hike up instead.

From our guesthouse we walked down into town, crossed the river on the bridge, and then hiked through a meadow to meet up with the dirt track. The road switchbacks up a hillside with ever-expanding views.