Our longest journey from Tbilisi was to Stepantsminda and took some 3 hours by mini-bus which we took from a train/metro station on the edge of Tbilisi. The mini-buses in Georgia run when they are full, on a fixed route with stops on demand. Since Stepantsminda is a reasonably important settlement our mini-bus only made a single stop, for refreshments. The journey wound north and was through stunning scenery with the single track road snaking through a steep valley. We only wanted to visit a single place near the town,
partly for the building itself, partly for its location and also for the journey to arrive there; non were a disappointment. From the mini-bus stop in Stepantsminda the walk up to the church was a trek of about an hour, we took a direct route which in places needed using the trees to haul us up steep sections. Non the less we arrived at the spectacular site, overlooked by snow-covered mountains and overlooking the town far below.
The church seemed to be a place of pilgrimage and it was packed with visitors. Having struggled up, we took the easier track down for fear of tumbling down the slope. And so, after a poor meal in what appeared the town’s best restaurant, we returned home to Tbilisi after an exhilarating day.