Sunday - David Geraja

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Packed early, and upstairs for breakfast. Bread, eggs and jam. Then onto the coach. This was a much better air conditioned coach driven by a Turkish driver. We set off to the monasteries at David Geraja, these were dug out of sandstone caves and decorated with frescos etc. The drive was 2 hours in total over some very rough roads.

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On the way we stopped at a fruit market, and bought some apples. Later going through one village, the police tried to stop us, but the coach driver kept on going.

The area around David Geraja was very barren, and a bit like the moon. It had been used by the Soviets in the past to train troops going to Afghanistan.

We started with a picnic lunch in a new partly built concrete build which was to be the visitor center, and were soon greeted by some dogs
The Lavra monastery The Lavra monastery
Steps cut into the sandstone at the bottom of the hill by the Lavra monastery.
We started a climb up above the Lavra monastery to the ridge above. This ridge looked over into Azerbaijan. On the ridge there were other monasteries cut out of caves in the sandstone. These had frescos, but unfortunately had been damaged by the Soviets, (shelling in their war training), and by graffiti.
Looking down on the Lavra monastery. Walking along the path to the Udabno monastery. On the right is the Azerbaijani border side.
Clare Eaton the Explore leader
Frescos (13th 14th century) from the Udabno cave monastery. See the holes where the monks eat. Another view of the refectory where the monks knelt eating the food on the stone table with their food hidden from each other in the hollows.
A lizard basking in the sun
Entering the The Lavra monastery. Nino Chincharauli, the Georgian guide followed by Ray Rolinson
The Lavra monastery. This was founded in the 6th century by St. David and has now been re-occupied by notoriously fundamentalist monks who take great exception to noise and inappropriate clothing.
The Lavra monastery
View along the top of the ridge. Azerbaijani border on the left.