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2 August 2011 / leggypeggy

Like a fart in a pickle jar

Entrance to a concrete gallery on the Georgian Military Highway.

From the comfort of my air-conditioned, 14-bed dorm room in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, it’s hard to recall the couple of bone-crushing drive days we had recently in Georgia and Armenia.

About a week ago, we left Kazbegi to drive south to Armenia. This meant another trip on the Georgian Military Highway. The road was professionally engineered about 100 years ago and it’s easy to believe that no maintenance has been carried out since then.

I’m usually sitting over the truck’s rear wheels and, let me tell you, on all those rough roads, I ricochet around my seat like a fart in a pickle jar (thanks Dru, I’ve always wanted to share that line in print). I wear my seatbelt and I really believe that several times it has kept me from being bounced onto the floor (or perhaps shot out an open window).

It’s not that there are so many potholes, but that the entire tarmac surface has broken up so badly over time. Not surprising given the harsh winter conditions in the Caucasus Mountains. Nevertheless, we encountered the same kind of terrible roads in Africa and, Chris, our driver there, always said he’d rather have no surface on the road than partial tarmac.

But in Georgia, you get some ricochet relief once you reach the ski resort village of Gudauri. I’m guessing that every winter enough local politicians drive from Tbilisi to Gudauri to go skiing, that they insist on the road being in reasonable condition.

But in spite of the miserable road, the scenery is fantastic and so interesting. I especially liked seeing the concrete galleries, built to protect certain sections of the road from avalanches. There were seven or eight such galleries—all two-lanes wide. All the galleries but one have an uncovered summer road running alongside. The pics here show several of the gallery entrances and some of the scenery.

The colourful religious artworks are part of a huge viewing platform that lies just a bit south of the Jvari Pass, which is at 2196 meters or 7200 feet.

P.S. Some of the roads in Armenia are just as bad.


Leave a Comment
  1. Sy S. / Aug 3 2011 12:12 am


    The Concrete Galleries and especially the religious artwork image (and arch with views beyond) is really very interesting. BTW, if people double click on a thumbnail small image you can then see it full size!

    Sy S.


  2. Brian Lageose / Jun 13 2016 12:31 pm

    The concrete galleries are indeed fascinating. Is this a common sight in Western Asia, or are they specific to Armenia?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 13 2016 1:19 pm

      We’ve seen these galleries all over Western and Central Asia—actually wherever there are mountains and heavy snow.

      Liked by 1 person

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