Highlights of These Last 5 Months in Eastern Europe

I head to Asia the day after tomorrow for the first time in nine years, ending five months of living in and traveling around nine countries in Eastern Europe. Here are my thoughts on the highlights of what I’ve seen.


October 18th, 2013|2 Comments

A Bumpy Marshrutka Ride from Tbilisi (Georgia) to Yerevan (Armenia)

It was time. My two months in Tbilisi had come to an end and it was time for me to leave Georgia and head to Armenia.  […]

July 22nd, 2013|11 Comments

Ananuri, a 17th-Century Castle and Church Complex in Georgia

While I was walking from one church to another in Mtskheta, I was approached by a taxi driver. He offered to take me up the mountain to Jvari Monastery (something I needed to find a taxi for anyway), and I accepted. While we were making our way up the mountain, he talked about  how he drives tourists all over Georgia, and he started rattling off place names. One of them was Ananuri.  […]

July 19th, 2013|2 Comments

A Brief Trip into the Amazing Caucasus Mountains near Kazbegi, Georgia

The Russian word for the Caucasus is Kavkaz (Кавказ). It’s a beautiful word, and it has an almost mythical ring to it—like Xanadu or Timbuktu. It’s one of those places that causes people’s eyes to glaze over when they talk about it, the way men’s eyes do in movies when they’re talking wistfully about a beautiful woman they once knew. […]

July 18th, 2013|6 Comments

Mtskheta: Georgia’s Holiest City and Ancient Capital

Mtskheta is a small town in Georgia about 15 miles north of Tbilisi, and it has played—and continues to play—an extremely important role in Georgian history. […]

July 12th, 2013|4 Comments

Visiting Stalin’s Home Town of Gori, Georgia

Joseph Stalin, the ruthless and long-reigning head of the Soviet Union, was not Russian—he was Georgian. He died more than 60 years ago, and he is arguably the most famous Georgian ever. A couple days ago, I visited his home town of Gori, Georgia, where he lived for the first 16 years of his life. […]

July 10th, 2013|5 Comments

Uplistsikhe: A Pre-Christian Cave City in Georgia

When you say that something is pre-Christian in Georgia, you’re talking about something with serious age. Georgia was the second country to adopt Christianity as the state religion (in 337; the first country was Armenia in 301), and orthodox tradition states that the apostles Simon and Andrew first brought Christianity to what is now Georgia back in the 1st century AD. […]

July 9th, 2013|3 Comments

A Visit to Tbilisi’s Version of Stonehenge: The Chronicle of Georgia

When I went to the US embassy a couple weeks ago to renew my passport, I noticed something odd on top of a nearby hill. It looked like a handful of giant blocks stacked on top of each other. I did some research when I got home and it turned out to be a massive art project called The Chronicle of Georgia (or The History of Georgia). […]

June 25th, 2013|6 Comments

The Incredible Cave Monasteries of Davit Gareja, Georgia

In this episode of Tristan’s Adventures, I talk theology with Georgian orthodox monks on top of a mountain, straddle the Georgia-Azerbaijan border, nearly step on a poisonous viper, and marvel at thousand-year-old frescos. […]

June 18th, 2013|14 Comments

Tbilisi’s High-Rise Luxury Hotel that Became a Refugee Camp (and Is Now a Luxury Hotel Again)

There is a luxury hotel here in Tbilisi that’s about a five-minute walk from my apartment. It’s super swanky, and staying there will run you several hundred dollars a night. For more than a decade in the 90s and into the 2000s, though, it was literally a refugee camp. […]

June 10th, 2013|2 Comments