Georgia on My Mind (Azerbaijan and Armenia, Too)

Another epic journey has come to a close and we are awaiting our homebound flight in yet another airport lounge. We are the last of our little group to leave Armenia so we have had the day free, which has given us plenty of time to talk about what we have seen and learned over the last fourteen days. Every travel experience with Exeter International has afforded us an extraordinary learning opportunity and this adventure was no exception. I want to share some random photos and thoughts before the wheels go up on the Doha-bound Airbus. (It’s a good idea, as usual, to scroll down to the bottom of this email and click on the green “Read The  Post” box so that you can read the captions.)

It seems like years since we landed in Baku, Azerbaijan when, in reality, it was only two weeks ago. Rick describes Baku as a Dubai wannabe because of their embrace of unconventional architecture. We were in Baku for three nights. It is located on some prime real estate on the Caspian Sea and that adds a lot to the city’s appeal.

This is the Cultural Center in Baku. It was designed by an Iraqi architect who has made quite a name for herself all over the world.


The Carpet Museum in Baku.


This is a shopping mall. We thought it was probably the opera house. Our guide thinks it looks like a space alien from this angle.


We spent eight days in Georgia. As I mentioned in another post, the scars of the Soviet Union’s time there are still everywhere in Georgia. But the country is beautiful and the people are optimistic about the future. They are very resilient people and are doing a great job of preserving their very old and very rich cultural heritage.

Khridoli, Georgian martial arts, is a centuries old tradition that is still widely taught, even in the Georgian Army.


Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is located in Mtskheta, the spiritual heart of Georgia. This town is where Christianity was first introduced to the country. The monuments in this town date back to the sixth century.

Beautiful view of the city of Tbilisi from the grounds of the Jivaro Monastery above the cathedral.


Bread baking on an old wood-fired oven. They sell it at the window as fast as they bake it.


Every meal in Georgia was overkill. They like the entire table totally covered with dishes. Everyone in our group had a real problem with all the food that appeared to be going to waste. I asked our guide if she grew up with such overloaded tables. I felt terrible when she replied that when she was growing up during the Soviet times, they did not have enough food. I just find it ironic that they seem to waste so much whereas all of us from the US, being so used to abundance, felt guilty about all the food wasted.


Sighnaghi is a beautifully preserved old town. It has the longest intact wall in Georgia. We are able to walk along part of the wall.


We spent three days in Yerevan, Armenia. Armenia was a nice surprise to us. We liked the food and wine much better here than in Georgia. We enjoyed the city of Yerevan. The downtown area was very walkable.

On the way to Yerevan from Tbilisi, we passed by the ruins of a city that processed copper in Armenia during the Soviet times. The Soviet Union designed the operations of the countries under their control so that no one country produced a product from start to finish. When the Soviet Union fell, these countries were not capable of producing finished products. Georgia was tasked with making wine; Armenia made the brandy. Here is another example: one country would make jet engines, another would make airplane wings, and another would make ball bearings. No one country could build an airplane, so when the Soviets were no longer there to do the final assembly, these countries had to figure out how to produce the needed parts and build airplanes independently of each other. It took a very long time for these countries to get on their feet and move forward. Below are pictures of the ruins of that massive copper production town just slowly rusting and rotting. It was sickening to see that ghost of a town.


Several friends have texted and emailed concerned about the fighting between the Azeris and the ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. When the current conflict broke out, there was a discussion about the possibility that we might have to change our plans and not come to Yerevan. Since a truce was worked out fairly quickly, we were felt comfortable coming here. There are protests every day, but they haven’t affected our plans. Today we walked to the opera house and there were protest organizers, but no protest was taking place this morning.

The protest organizers are telling the people that a change is needed in the country’s leadership. The shop keepers and hotel workers are apologizing for the conflict and telling us they hope it has not ruined our trip. We assured them that, considering the state of politics in our country, we are not about to meddle in another country’s affairs.


A lone person on a hunger strike. After this trip, I need to do that, but not for the same reason.


Another call to protest.


I will finish with my favorite people pictures. The first is a beggar at one of the cathedrals in Georgia. I thought her face showed such despair and resignation, so Rick gave her a few coins and we asked if I could take her picture.



I asked this artist at a monastery in Armenia if I could take a picture of him. His work was beautiful. I wish I could have bought it from him.


Monk at the Noravank Monastery in the southern part of Armenia. Armenians are very religious.


One last view of Mount Ararat as we traveled to the Yerevan Airport to depart Armenia.


  1. Melinda Young on September 27, 2023 at 3:26 pm

    What a fabulous trip. Safe travels and hope to see you soon.

  2. Sarah Guida on September 27, 2023 at 3:41 pm

    So enjoyed all your blog posts. Look forward to hearing more about your trip.
    Safe travels back to the US.

  3. Donna on September 27, 2023 at 3:44 pm

    All of your missives were full of fabulous photos and descriptions but this one exceeded the rest because I could actually “feel” your emotional attachment to the spirit of the land and people. Beautiful! Thank you and we are welcoming you home to Beaufort.

    • Ruth Anne Lawson on September 28, 2023 at 9:01 am

      Thanks for your kind words. We are back in SC and will be home next week. It’s good to be back! See you soon

  4. Pam Morgan on September 28, 2023 at 7:46 am

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful and emotional adventures. Save journey home!

  5. Karen Counts on September 28, 2023 at 8:43 am

    Another adventure in the books. I enjoy reading the unvarnished posts and learning about these parts of the world. K

  6. Stuart Heath on September 28, 2023 at 9:35 am

    This has been such an interesting journey. I had no idea of where your were headed and had to go to maps to get my bearings.

    And your comments about the people showed such a different way of life.

    AND…the food! The comments about the abundance of food and the waste was easy to understand. They just need to see that they have plenty!

    And… how calculating of the Soviet Union to set up industry so that no one country is “independent” of the Soviet Union to ” put it all together.”

    Big hugs. Glad you are back. XXXOOOXXX

    • Ruth Anne Lawson on September 30, 2023 at 6:23 am

      Thanks for reading my posts. I love to write and I love to share what I learn. See you next week!

  7. Sandra Miller on October 5, 2023 at 1:32 am

    Wonder why I hadn’t been getting notices about your travels. I think it might be because I was signed up for Lawsons on the Loose an not for Glamping–Lawsons….

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