Traveling to the Caucasus countries of Georgia and Armenia is a contrast between sophisticated world capitals with their café societies and great food, to central Georgia’s timeless vineyards, old world rural towns, and Armenia’s scenic mountain villages.
Do you know that Georgia is one of the oldest wine producing regions of the world? It is also known for its fine food, stunning landscape, modern architecture, ancient churches and fortresses. The capital Tbilisi is a sophisticated city with a café society. The New York Times recent ‘Future Shock’ article contrasts Tbilisi’s ‘Old Town’ charm and architecture with its shiny new skyline. We’ll be walking those narrow streets and photographing the people, environs, historic structures, and partaking of the culture and cuisine, an unforgettable experience today as it has been for travelers and writers for many years.
A short drive from Tbilisi is the Kahetic wine region, an important and culturally rich area and home to one of the oldest wine cultures of the world, where we’ll photograph the vineyards, ancient caves, and the traditional wine making methods. In addition to a wonderful day of photography, we’ll be sampling wines of a renowned vineyard—a perfect all around day!
Next we travel north to the scenic and very remote Svaneti region, an area rich in historical and cultural significance. This region of snow-capped mountain peaks, alpine meadows and rich forests, is home to the proud mountain people who maintain their traditional lifestyle, and who we will be photographing. We’ll hike to a local village to dine with a family where we experience their hospitality, culture and cuisine, as we explore this exceptional landscape. On our return drive we visit the town of Gori, crossroads of many historical and military events and Stalin’s birthplace.
Before we leave Georgia, we’ll travel southwest of Tbilisi to the archaeological site of Dmanisi, which has some of the earliest known hominid fossils outside of Africa. In 2013 the skull fossil ‘Skull 5’ was unearthed there, and is believed to be the world’s first completely preserved adult skull from the early Pleistocene era.
Armenia’s multitude of ancient churches, medieval towns, and World Heritage Sties makes this a distinctive Eurasia destination, so after crossing the border, we drive through the Aragatsotn region stopping to photograph the dramatic mountain vistas, and the medieval fortress of Amberd on the slopes of Mount Aragats.
We end our journey in the modern capital, Yerevan, where we relax and explore the diverse historical sites, museums and modern sights, people watch, and enjoy the slow pace of this cultural city, a perfect place to end a remarkable photographic journey.
Tuition & Deposit:
8 – 10 people $8,990.00
5 – 7 people $9,290.00
Single Supplement: $795.00
At the time of registration, a $1200 deposit will be required. Maine Media will process that, along with a $55 non-refundable application fee. Once processed, all further contact, information regarding the program, and all financial transcations will be handled directly by Arlene Collins.
Day 1 & 2 travel from the US to Tbilisi, George
June 6 & 7, 2016
Day 3 Arrive Tbilisi Georgia Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel
Wed. June 8 evening orientation with cocktails and dinner (D)
Day 4 Tbilisi Radisson Hotel
Thu. June 9 After breakfast we walk along Rustaevli Avenue the cities main artery. Along this grand avenue are the Parliament Buildings, National Gallery, Opera House, Theatre and museums, and a series of sculptures, all in soviet architecture. This is a perfect place to photograph the fashionable young Georgians who frequent the numerous French cafes. We continue on to Freedom Square with the Monument of St. George.
After lunch we visit Tbilisi’s Old Town, the most ancient part of the city, renowned for its mix of cultures, and wooden houses. We end our day photographing modern Tbilisi, The Peace Bridge over the Jura River, and the Public Service Hall.
Day 5 Tbilisi – Sighnaghi –Telavi Chateau Mere
Fri. June 10 This morning we drive through the fertile valleys of the Kakheti wine district. The valley surrounded by the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains and is home to some of the oldest vineyards on earth! Our first tasting and lunch is at Pheasant’s Tears, producer of biodynamic wines. Pheasant’s Tears has vineyards in Karti, and in several other Kakheit districts, as well as sourcing grapes from other regional growers. These vineyards grow the ancient varietals of Chinuri, Mtsvane, Kisi, Tsolkauri, Rkatsitell, Tavkveri, and their own brandy Georgian Chacha.
Learn about biodynamic wine making methods and tour Pheasant’s ancient cellar.
After lunch we start our slow drive to our next winery and home for the evening, Chateau Mere, renown for their typical Georgian cuisine and wine. (B,L& D)
Day 6 Telavi – Tbilisi Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel
Sat. June 11 Our wine region tour continues with a visit to a local master of Georgian clay jars known as “Qvevri” which are used for storing wine underground. We next visit the wine cellar of the Alaverdi Cathedral to taste wine made by the monks. Georgian cuisine is a blend of culinary styles that were transported along the trade routes, and contains influences from Europe and the Middle East, A typical meal consists of a variety of dishes with various herbs and spices. This afternoon is our first home cooked Georgian meal, where we dine with a local family
Late afternoon we return to Tbilisi. (B&L)
Day 7 Tbilisi – Mtskheta – Gori – Kutaisi Bagrati 1003 Hotel
Sun. June 12 This morning we depart for a one-hour drive to eastern Georgia, and to the city of Mtskheta with its UNESCO World Heritage sites of medieval cathedrals, monasteries and fortresses. Mtskheta is the ancient capital and a religious center of Georgia. The city is known for its Roman ruins dating back to the 3rd century BC. We then travel to the ancient city of Gori, means Heap or Hill the birthplace of Joseph Vissarionovich Jughashvili, aka Stalin. We end our day in Kutaisi, the town famous for the ‘Golden Fleece’. (B, L & D)
Day 8 Katsisi – Mestia – Ushguli Ushba Hotel
Mon. June 13 Today, we drive northwest to the scenic and isolated region of Upper Svaneti, where mountains separate the deep gorges. This region is inhabited by the Svars, an ethnic subgroup of the Georgians. The Svars live in small medieval-type villages with unusual tower houses, once used as defense posts against the invaders. The Svars, who still wear their white and black wool hats, maintain their traditional lifestyle. We spend the day photographing the Svars in their medieval villages. Dinner is with a local family. (B, L & D) 3 hour drive
Day 9 Ushguli – Tbilisi Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel
Tues. June 14 We spend the day leisurely driving back to Tbilisi, stopping along the route to photograph the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ushguli village, and Queen Tamar’s summer tower. (B&L)
Day 10 Tbilisi – Dmanisi – Georgia Puchkino B & B
Wed. June 15 Armenia Border – Pushkino
This morning we depart Tbilisi for Armenia, stopping to photograph the skulls of Zezva and Mzia, in the archaeological site of Dmanisi. Experts believe the fossilized bones date to about 1.8 million years ago and are the oldest indisputable remains of humans discovered outside Africa. On route to the border we will stop in the spa town of Borjomi to photograph. After we cross the border we drive to the Armenian village of Puchkino, where we spend the night. (B, L &D)
Day 11 Pushkino - Amberd –Saghmosavank – Metsamor – Echmiadzin – Yerevan, Armenia Marriott Hote
Thu. June 16 Today we drive through the Aragstsotn region, stopping to photograph the historic site of Alphabet Park and the medieval fortress of Amberd, built on the slopes of Mount Aragats. The fortress perched high on a hillside offers a spectacular view of the snow-capped mountains. The fortress is home to the 13th century Sagmosavank monastic complex situated atop a precipitous gorge carved by the Kasagh River. (B &L)
Day 12 Yerevan – Garni –Geghard - Yerevan Marriott Hote
Fri. June 17 Yerevan, the capital of Armenia is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities, dating back to the 8th century BC. We visit the Matenadaran, an ancient repository that holds one of the world’s richest collections of illuminated books, manuscripts, and historic documents, the Cafesjian Museum of Contemporary Art, Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall and the Genocide Museum. We photograph the World Heritage Sites of 4th century Geghard Monastery and Echmiadzin Cathedral, and the remains of ancient temples and early Bronze Age settlements. (B&L)
Day 13 Yerevan Marriott Hotel
Sat. June 18 Today we take a scenic drive to the Khor Virap Monastery, a pilgrimage site set on a plateau facing Mount Ararat, the snow capped symbol of Armenia and the biblical resting place of Noah’s Ark. After photographing the mountain vistas, we continue to the cliff-perched Noravank, a 13th century church a jewel of Armenian medieval architecture. (B & L)
Day 14 Yerevan Marriott Hotel
SJun. June 19 Visit the Cafesjian Center for the Arts, The National Gallery, The Armenian Genocide Memorial & Museum and the ERebuni Fortress which over looks the city.
We wind down our remarkable journey with a tour and tasting at the Ararat Brandy Company. Tonight is our farewell dinner. (B, L & D)
Day 15 Depart for home
Mon. June 20
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A deposit as indicated on the registration page is required to confirm your reservation for the workshop. Final payment in full is due 45 days prior to the start date of your workshop unless stated differently in the course description.. Maine Media Workshops + College (“Maine Media”) reserves the right to cancel a reservation if full payment has not been received by the due date.
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All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars; all payments must be made in U.S. dollars.
It is strongly advised that you purchase Trip Cancellation, Baggage, Emergency Medical Evacuation, and/or Accident and Sickness Insurance Protection. Camera equipment, computers, and baggage are carried entirely at the owner’s risk. Maine Media shall have no responsibility for any lost, damaged, or delayed property, or for an individual student’s medical needs, accidents, injuries or illnesses.
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The itinerary for your workshop is subject to change without prior notification.
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A valid passport is required for all international travel. You are required to notify Maine Media as to the nationality under which your passport is registered. Participants are responsible for obtaining their passports and visas. To participate in the workshop, you must have a passport that is valid until at least six months after the date on which your trip is scheduled to be completed.
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All participants must be in good health. You must advise Maine Media of any health condition, physical condition, or emotional or mental condition that may require special attention or that may adversely impact the other participants in your workshop. All students are required to complete a “Waiver of Liability” form and submit it at the time of registration. This document may be found on the course description page.
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To ensure a safe experience, you are required to obey local customs and be considerate when photographing people or sensitive locations. The faculty member for your workshop has the right to expel any person from the workshop for behavior that is in violation of the law; that is disruptive; or that compromises the group’s safety or enjoyment. No refunds will be made to any person expelled from a workshop. Maine Media shall have no obligation to pay any costs incurred by a person as a result of that person being expelled from a workshop.