Holy sites

Sleepy Sigatoka

It was always going to be hard to match the beauty and enjoyment of staying on Kuata Island but I couldn’t stay there forever. It was time to explore the mainland. The bus from Nadi to Sigatoka (pronounced Singatoka) was less than $6 and took an hour. I was the only non-Fijian on the full bus. An older bearded gentleman sat next to me. After a while we had a little chat. Turns out he went to Canterbury University and Massey back in the […]

Kutaisi, Georgia

Wizz Air flies in and out of Kutaisi from all over Europe for very few euros so it’s likely the budget traveller to Georgia will fly via this city rather than Tbilisi. Our first visit to Georgia saw us finish in Kutaisi where we then flew to Warsaw. Our second visit had us arrive in Kutaisi from Munich and leave from there to Budapest.  Kutaisi it turns out is more than just a place for budget airline arrivals and departures. The town has quite […]

The Georgian Military Highway

We did two day trips from Tbilisi when we were there in April and I can recommend both to future travellers to Georgia. The first was with a driver up what is known as the Georgian Military Highway to Kazbegi, a truly magnificent drive. We stopped off at a few beautiful points along the way both there and back. The second trip from Tbilisi was to Uplitsikhe cave city and Gori, birthplace of Stalin and home to the Stalin Museum. I’ll cover this one […]

Tbilisi – Capital of Georgia

We have been fortunate enough to visit Georgia and its capital Tbilisi on two occasions this year. The first experience in Georgia was so good (but relatively short, just 10 days in April) so when we needed to exit the Schengen Zone we decided to return to Georgia and explore some more. In October we were back for around 3 weeks. I’ll write about both trips now so all the Georgia posts are together. Let’s start with a bit of background about the place… […]

Last day in Armenia – Debed Canyon

Impressive frescoes in the ruins

We stayed in Vanadzor for two nights with a guy who is also involved in the ARK Armenia organisation we helped out with in Kapan. We arrived after our Lake Sevan trip and the following day we were off exploring again, this time hitch-hiking and on buses. Our target was the dramatic and beautiful Debed Canyon and a few monasteries there. Our attempts at hitch-hiking out of town didn’t last long as a very crowded mini-van bus came along and we jumped in that. […]

Lake Sevan Sights

Sevanavank Monastery, Lake Sevan, Armenia

Our final trip from Yerevan was via Lake Sevan to Vanidzor. We used the services of Artyom, our driver from Yerevan who took us on our two wonderful daytrips there. He was pleasant, a good driver and was set very reasonable prices. This time he’d leave us in Vanidzor instead of taking us back to Yerevan at the end of the day. Lake Sevan is set 1900m above sea level and covers 940 sq km making it one of the largest freshwater high altitude […]

Daytripping from Yerevan

Garni Temple

Armenians have a pretty cool alphabet. Created in 405 CE by Mesrop Mashtots, a linguist and church leader, it originally had 36 letters and now has 39. Aside from a letter which resembles U and another one O most of the letters are completely unfamiliar to me. On the occasion of the alphabet’s 1600th birthday, in 2005, a series of 39 giant carved letters were strategically placed near Mashtots’ final resting place. We happened to drive past this place on the first of two […]

Shiraz, Iran.

Shah-e Cheragh Shrine at dusk, Shiraz.

After a seven or eight hour bus ride overnight from Esfahan we arrived in Shiraz nice and early. Thankfully we could check in at our hotel (Niayesh) upon arrival and rest for a few hours then catch up on some work/ trip planning before exploring the city. We didn’t really know where we’d go when we first headed out in the late afternoon, just that we’d have a walk around the neighbourhood and perhaps find something to eat. We came across a mosque that […]

Zoroastrian Sites

Approaching the Towers of Silence, a badgir (wind tower) in foreground. Yazd.

Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s first religions to propose the belief in an omnipotent, invisible god. It was founded in ancient Iran around 3500 years ago by the prophet Zoroaster. Although now one of the world’s smallest religions, for around 1000 years it was one of the most powerful religions in the world and an official religion in Iran from 600 BCE to 650 CE. The Arab conquest of Iran in 651 brought Islam with it and thus an end to Zoroastrian dominance. […]