We went back to Tbilisi to spend a night, then started our drive west the morning next - to go fishing, flyfishing for Georgian trout.

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As we gained elevation, the scenery changed at a rapid pace. We noticed the rugged peaks covered in fresh snow from the descending airplane, but driving up their treacherous faces made that impression really home.
Holy trinity monastery of Stepantsminda.
The peak of Mt. Kazbeki, with altitude of 5,074meters, towered above the shoal of snow clouds.
Caucasus is a strip of rugged, mountainous terrain between Black sea and the Caspian sea that makes a land bridge from Russia to Middle East.

Due to its obvious geopolitical importance the area has been fought over for many centuries. The presence of several ethnic groups belonging to different religions did not help much in bringing lasting peace to the area.
We drove down to Kazbeki village where we enjoyed fresh Xachapri yet again. We would love to come here for hiking one day - to do justice to this stunning scenery and the tasty local cuisine.
As we reached the pass and drove down to the valley of Kazbeki, the view opened up - with only patches of friendly clouds floating in the sky.

The grand view of the valley, with the village at the very bottom, left us in awe.
We enjoyed our first night in Tbilisi with a fresh baked piece of Xachapri - Georgian Pizza that goes very well with red wine, which is also the country's specialty. Along Tbilisi's high street there are many wine shops, where you can drop by and taste variety of their rich selection.
As much as its historical & cultural appeal, the area is rich in natural beauty and outdoor attractions. Many Russians travel to the great mountains for winter sports, as this is one of the nearest place for Muscovites to see a decent ski slope!

Meanwhile for us flyfishers, the area offers many interesting venues - including some rivers that nurtures self reproducing trout of the eastern family. Considering all this, we decided to go visit Georgia, in mid October 2016
Snow starts falling in Moscow end September. Window of outdoor activities narrows down. Becoming desperate, I looked for one last action plan for the year - somewhere still warm enough - such as, Georgia, in the Caucasus.

Once a member of Soviet union, Georgia became a member of CIS states as the Communist countries sought a new form of solidarity. Georgia decided to step out of it in 2009, following the dispute over Abkhazjia. Yet in many ways Georgia keeps a relationship with Russia, which remains its most powerful neighbor like it or not.
Fishy Trips
Georgia in Oct '16 - 1
After walking around the old town, we decided to spend a day on an excursion - to the Great Caucasus range some 200kms to the north.

Soon after leaving the capital behind, the road climbed to the hilly region with very pastoral atmosphere.
The capital, Tbilisi, is a city that boasts one of the longest history of all. It was fought over by the Persians, the Romans and more recently by the Russians. The impressive fortress on the hill overlooking the capital was not built for tourism.