Top: World's first 360-degree Panorama of Ushguli, Svaneti, Georgia, Feb 24/2009, from 12 separate photos...

Friday, 10 August 2007

Ushguli, Svaneti, June 2007

More from the summit of Mt Lamaia. The 17-shot panorama will have to wait some time to get onto the blog; it needs special treatment, i.e. a way of making it a continuously slowly rotating scene, to give it its full effect. And I have to finish editing it on my computer before then anyway. In the meantime, here are the best of the rest of the shots from that location.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Ushguli, Svaneti, June 2007

To the summit of 3105 m, so almost another kilometre above Ushguli; feeling the altitude, but revelling in the magnificent landscape unfolding in three dimensions around me.

I wasn't prepared to lug the extra weight of my tripod up here - the camera gear was heavy enough on its own. But I did attempt a careful hand-held set of 17 shots which I've been stitching together in my computer to form my first ever 360-degree panorama. So much to see from this glorious height! Unfortunately, Mt Ushba was hidden by another mountain looming close. But never mind: earlier posts have cellphone snapshots of that view, from a different summit, and some later posts will show scanned photos from there as well.

Ushguli, Svaneti, June 2007

Ushguli at last, Europe's highest village at c. 2200 m, about 20 km walk mostly uphill from Ipari. The next day I gave Jeff some time for rest while I, still charged with energy from just being there again, decided to walk up Mt Lamaia at the top right side of the village. Here are some views from the way up, on the day of perfect weather for such a jaunt; more to come from the top.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Svaneti, June 2007

We spent the night at Ipari, with the family of its gamgebeli, or governor. He arranged for us to enter the 10th-century church, a magnificent little building. From the bottom:

Two shots (general and detail) of an outside wall, mixing pagan with Christian imagery.

The fabulous 10th century chased gold icon of St George killing not the dragon, but his archenemy, the Emperor Diocletian. A scene found more than once in Svaneti.

Frescoed walls inside the church: Twin St Georges killing both foes; dragon at right, Emperor at left. (The loss of detail in some areas is partly due to my not noticing lens flare, I think it was, in the rather dimly lit interior. I've cleaned it up as best I can here, but the results are not perfect.)

There's a whole lot more story connected with Ipari but not captured on either film or video. At about 8 pm on the evening of our stay, the gamgebeli's father told me, "Your horse has run away!" Somehow a gate had been left open, not our fault as she was in the hands of our hosts. I alerted Jeff: we must find her quickly, as light was soon to fade. Off we ran up the switchback towards the pass in the direction of her home, Etseri. The father, meanwhile, knew the paths straight up the long hill, and began running up them.

Jeff and I panted up the long zigzags - slow progress given the altitude and ascent, and having done a full day's walking already! I was in the lead, and spotted the horse, still walking away, cursed beast. I tried to catch up to her in a nonchalant kind of way; but she merely began trotting. I realised instantly, no surprise, that she could run circles around me anywhere. Moment of despair. She rounded the next bit of zigzag and was gone from sight.

Just then I heard a yell from up ahead. Then who should appear but our host's father, leading the horse by her bridle! He had succeeded in moving above her by his vertical pathways, and my appearing below her had merely driven her to him. Great relief as our strenuous half-hour was over and the animal was safe again. We slowly walked back down to Ipari in the gathering darkness with the new realisation that our pack beast was potentially more trouble than we had anticipated. But this was actually a walk in the park compared to what we would come to call Crazy Horse Day, a week later. Stay tuned! I'll have that story after a long set of Ushguli segments.

Monday, 6 August 2007

the W()RD: Stuck

New accommodation, still getting set up in a sort of communal apartment situation. My own computer isn't yet hooked in to the network, so I'm accessing the internet from the landlady's machine, which runs Windows *98* and doesn't even recognise my USB memory stick, the only way I thought I could use to communicate between the 2 machines.
Meaning... no new pictures for the blog today. Sorry! I hate to let people down if they're waiting (JB in USA), but that's where it's at. Hang in there & I'll continue as soon as I can - from an internet cafe if I have to.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Svaneti, June 2007

From bottom to top:
Mestia, Svaneti's capital town with its almost 70 watchtowers. Jeff and I walked to one of the towers of the defunct ski-lift, then climbed it to see the view, which I had also done on my very first visit to Svaneti, in July 1999. Alas, then as now Ushba was hidden behind clouds. But the landscape was still rewarding.

Door, Mestia. Nothing fancy, perhaps; a nice piece of folk art nonetheless.

View towards Ushba from near the pass at Ipari. Ushba was still uncooperative, but the scenery still worth capturing.

Cross Detail, Ipari pass. This silver-painted wooden cross had carvings all over it, and a cup to toast from on a little shelf. The detail is of St George doing his number on the dragon, here beautifully rendered in a simple style.