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Itinerary: Experience Medieval Eastern Europe

Abercrombie & Kent | Georgia and Armenia Tour

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This fascinating journey through Georgia and Armenia to the heart of the Caucasus offers a taste of old world Eastern European charm. Both countries boast thousands of years of history and a rich cultural heritage of music, art, poetry and dance. You will experience breathtaking landscapes, isolated rural communities, vineyards and orchards and hearty, delicious cuisine influenced by the food of the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Day 1

Tbilisi, Georgia

Arrive into the Georgian capital and transfer privately to your hotel. This evening join your tour director and fellow travellers for a cocktail briefing on the adventure ahead.

Day 2

Tbilisi

Your adventure starts with a walk through the cobbled streets of the atmospheric old town. Visit the 12th century Metekhi Church and a 19th century Jewish synagogue. You will also get to=he chance to admire the old Georgian houses with their distinctive wooden, curved balconies and the Sioni Cathedral. You’ll see the oldest surviving church in Tbilisi, the Anchiskhati Basilica, before getting a bird’s-eye view of the city from the Narikala Fortress which can be accessed by cable car, or on foot for those feeling more energetic. On the way back down, stop at the Sulphur Baths and the National Museum of Fine Arts. Tonight is a chance to savour some of Georgia’s finest cuisine at a favourite traditional restaurant.

Day 3

Tbilisi – Bodbe – Sighnaghi – Tbilisi

Today you will explore the most picturesque and fertile part of Georgia – Kakheti, which borders the Great Caucasus range. Admire the profusion of vineyards and beautiful churches as you drive through. The a stop is made at the 9th century Bodbe Nunnery, where St. Nino, the 4th century female evangelist is buried, before arriving at the pretty fortified town of Sighnaghi, famous for its wine and carpet making. A unique cultural interaction in store today when you lunch with a local family serving up traditional dishes from the region, and of course local wines. Before returning to Tbilisi you’ll visit the grand Tsinandali estate, with its opulent palace and grounds, once home to the noble Chavchavadze family and noted for its historic winery.

Day 4

Tbilisi

Another day uncovering the attractions of Tbilisi starting at the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia. Continue to the Georgian National Centre of manuscripts for a visit with a specialist to talk about the important restoration work being done there. After lunch you’ll visit a local workshop, where artisans introduce us to the ancient technique of cloisonné, a decorative enamelwork tradition over 1,200 years old. Finish the day at the Sukhoi Bridge market where you’ll find all sorts of mementos from jewellery and artwork, to tractor parts, crystal chandeliers and military medals.

Day 5

Tbilisi – Mtskheta – Ananuri – Kazbegi

The living museum and World Heritage site of Mtskheta is your first stop today. Georgia’s cultural and religious centre, it is also one of the country’s oldest towns. You’ll visit the striking Jvari Church, a masterpiece of the early medieval period. Next stop, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, said to be the burial place of Christ’s robe. Heading along the Georgian Military Highway, visit Ananuri Architectural complex, with churches and towers dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries overlooking Jinvali reservoir. You’ll then arrive into the sleepy town of Kazbegi later this afternoon where views of Mt. Kazbek, seventh highest peak in the Caucasus Mountains, are breathtaking – especially from your hotel room.

Day 6

Kazbegi

This morning you’ll head for the 14th century Gergeti Holy Trinity Church which perches high on a hill overlooking the town and the surrounding mountain scenery. This is surely one of the world’s most beautiful sights and you can get up close by 4WD or on foot. More traditional Georgian cuisine and hospitality to enjoy today over lunch with one of the local families. This afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the stylish Nordic atmosphere of the hotel before sundowners this evening on the terrace.

Today’s adventure takes you to the fertile Kartli province, in the heart of the country with a stop in Gori the birthplace of Joseph Stalin where the controversial Stalin museum traces his life from humble beginnings to the end. Lunch today is in the atmospheric old brick cellars of Château Mukhrani where a vineyard was first established in the late 19th century. Here they will pair traditional dishes with the local wine.

You will farewell Georgia this morning crossing into Armenia at the Sadakhlo border. En route stop at the Haghpat and Sanahin monastic complexes which are representative of Armenia’s finest religious architectural tradition with a unique style blending elements of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and the traditional vernacular of the Caucasian region. Then arrive to your medieval style hotel located in a remote location beside the Debed River on the main road from Tbilisi to Yerevan. A traditional dinner of Armenian cuisine is arranged this evening.

Travelling further south today you’ll stop at the spa town of Dilijan, with its beautiful mountain scenery and unique architecture to visit the 10th-13th century Haghartsin Monastery which is tucked away in a verdant valley to the northeast. Afterwards head to Lake Sevan, where a boat trip is included before continuing on to the Armenian capital. Yerevan stretches along the banks of the River Hrazdan, under the wistful gaze of biblical Mt. Ararat and guarded by the tremendous statue of Mother Armenia at Victory Park.

Your introduction to the capital begins with a guided tour of the city which was founded in 782 BC, making it one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited metropolises. See the beautiful Government buildings, the Central Post Office and banks and visit the State History Museum as well as the Cafesjian Modern Art Museum. Discover why Armenian brandy is world famous at a VIP tasting specially organised for us at the Yerevan brandy factory. There is also time this afternoon to pore over the myriad stalls at the Vernissage flea market, which is a short walk from the hotel.

A biblical focus this morning on a visit to Etchmiadzin Cathedral for holy mass. This ancient cathedral is headquarters for the Armenian Orthodox church and is believed to be the oldest Christian establishment initiated by a state in the world. Later we take in the nearby ruins of the famous 7th century Zvartnots Cathedral, a 49 metre high three-tiered pyramidal church embellished with beautiful carvings. Lunch today is at the family owned Megeryan Carpet Factory & Museum. Get comfortable as you admire the exquisite handmade carpets before a traditional Armenian lunch in a rustic, but atmospheric, restaurant.

This morning begins with a special, and spiritual, vocal performance in the acoustic hall of the ancient Geghard Monastery. Partly carved in a cave, Geghard represents another incredible architectural complex. Afterwards, a visit to the pagan Temple of Garni, which dates to the Hellenistic era, built to honour the Sun God Mitra and a symbol of pre-Christian Armenia. Then you can take part in a centuries-old Armenian cultural tradition at a hands-on lavash making ceremony. The dough is kneaded, rolled and baked in the wood-fired oven before being served for lunch with barbecued meats, spicy peppers and curds in a local home. Enjoy this afternoon at leisure before a farewell dinner.

Transfer to the airport for departure flight.

  • Breakfast

Experience Medieval Eastern Europe

Travel Dates 2018

  • May 11, 2019 – May 23, 2019
  • Sep 21, 2019 – Oct 3, 2019

Prices

  • AU$8,995 per person

For more information and to enquire about this tour visit: www.abercrombiekent.com.au

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