Thursday, March 31, 2016


Milton Bear at the Parthenon.
Milton Bear at the Aegean Sea. 
After skiing, Megan and I traveled to Athens to visit the birthplace of democracy and the ancient Greek ruins. After catching a 5:15 a.m. flight, we checking into our hotel room at 9:00 a.m. and found a breakfast. We then proceed to walk 38,000 steps around the city of Athens. We first visited the Botanical Gardens and sat on ancient ruins, looked at birds, and saw many spring flowers. We then visited the monuments of Zeus the Olympian, where we met up with TGC fellows, Walt and Renee. We visited the Planko where there are many stores and shops on small city streets in between ancient Greek remains. We then all went up to Mount Lycabettus and watch the sunset over Athens.

On the following morning, we got up early and went to the Acropolis. We were one of the first people at the Parthenon. It was great to be up there and just stand in awe at this great feat in human engineering. I am amazed the humans were able to erect this massive monument over 2000 years ago. After the Parthenonon we visited the Acropolis museum. Afterward we went back our hotel and took a tram to see the Aegean Sea. We put our feet in the water and enjoyed the peacefulness of the ocean. 

Greek guards at the tomb of the unknown soldier. Check out their shoes.

From another building at the Acropolis.

This church has a building built around it.

Me sitting on top of some ruins. 
Zeus the Olympian Monument.
Megan and I at the Acropolis. Her and I together we able to easily navigate the city. No one of us was as smart as both of us.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid in Greek.

Skiing in Gudauri

I traveled with my fellow TGC Fellow, Megan, to Gudauri Ski area in the upper Caucuses Mountains. It was a nice trip up to the mountain and we were hoping to ski for two days. On the first day, the power went out at 8:15 and was off until 12:15. It was a bit of a disappointment because we could not get on the slopes right away. However, we made the best of the situation playing backgammon and Monopoly.  Once the power came back on we jumped up rented skis and began skiing. We took the gondola and when we got out we could not see a thing. We were in the middle of a cloud. Since we were above the tree line, we could not even find the trail, so we followed a group of skiers and we found the trail. We figured out that the trails were marked by poles and that we needed to ski between them. 

Despite skiing in the clouds for two days and not being able to get to the top because of the poor visibility. I am still happy to say I skied in the Caucuses Mountains. 

Ski Map
Sunrise from my hotel room window.

View going up the gondola.

Me and the Snow Cat.

Mother Georgia

Before heading to Guduari, Milton Bear visits Mother Georgia. She hold a bowl is for welcoming guests and the sword is for turning away enemies.

View from Mother Georgia.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Last Day as Part of Teachers for a Global Classroom

Today is the last day for the Teachers for a Global Classroom. I will be extending my stay in Georgia to ski at Gudauri ski area in the great Caucasus mountain range. I will be skiing above the tree line the base of the mountain is at 8000 feet and the summit is at 10,000 feet. I will then be heading to Greece on Monday and returning to Vermont on Wednesday night.

I will try to do a quick blog from Gudauri and Athens. I hope to do a final reflection when I have sometime to reflect on this awesome experience.

Today we just did a quick debrief and visited a couple of churches. 

Svetitskhoveli Church - The story is that the Shroud of Jesus is buried in the church with the person who brought it form Jerusalem. This church was built in the 5th century around a wooden church that was built in the 4th century.

In the background is another church, Jvari, that we visited on top of the mountain. I am in awe that they were able to build these churches without any modern equipment.

The River Mtkvari (left) flows from Turkey to the Caspian Sea. The Silk Road followed this river. The River Aragvi (right) flows from the Caucusus Mountains into Mtkvari.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Travel Day

Today was a travel day. I went back to Tbilisi and when I got here I went to a market and bought some Churchkella, hazel nuts dipped in grape juice that forms a hard surface around the nuts. I hope to make this when I get back to Vermont. then to the Vernicular which took us up to an amusement park. I rode a roller coaster and then went back and ate dinner.  We then saw some American blues music, song by a Georgian man, before retiring for the evening.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Final Day in Akhaltsikhi

I presented my host teacher, Lela, with an I Love Milton shirt.

Milton Bear with the Dancers.

Today was my final day in Akhaltsikhe. It was my favorite day in a school yet. In the morning, I introduced the 10th grade students to whiffle ball. It was great watching them pitch and trying to hit the ball. We then played some football (soccer) and ended the period with basketball. Luckily for me the rim was very forgiving I was able to score two baskets. It was great to see how you do not need language to play sports.

I then visited a seventh grade and second grade classroom. We ended the school day with the 8th graders. We had the students write about their favorite object and took a picture of the object. We also video taped them talking about their objects. It was great. At the end of class, I gave them one of my favorite books, Stargirl, and I handed them two Rubic's Cubes to solve.

After school, I went to Girls in Civics meeting, where we talked about American schools. I showed them a few clips from Yellow Jacket TV, and they were impressed.

Finally I ended my day watching the students perform a traditional dance. I was completely blown away with what I saw. I wish all of Milton's dancers had seen this dance. There are not enough superlatives in the English language to describe how awesome it was.

Here is a link to watch this amazing performance. It is well worth the wait to watch it.
Akhaltsikhe Dancers

Monday, March 21, 2016

Zadzaria Monastery, Abustamani Barbecue, and the Observatory

Milton Bear looking at a telescope at the Jupiter and three of its moons.
After teaching, we visited Zadzaria Monastery and then the resort town of Abastumani. This place was awesome. It reminded me of being at Yellowstone or the Grand Teton's National Parks. The mountains were high, the air fresh, and it just had a very nice feeling to it. We hiked around a bit and then went into a bath house. That had hot natural spring water fed into from the ground. We explored the Romanov's abandon bath house. The Romanov's were Russian's last monarch It would make the perfect setting for a scary movie.

Zadzaria Monastery

Bones of dead monks.
A waterfall at Abustamani
Abandon Romanov Bath House
Wild horses. It was fun to see them run.

We then ate barbecue, which was fun. We fortunate enough that they just let us eat inside the cafeteria that featured a statue of Stalin. This was a very nice meal between the four of us, Lela, Amiran, Wendy, and myself. We toasted to friendship, to families, to the children, and to good relations between our countries. 

BBQ. Making pig and Kachapuri - For the first time in over 20 years I at meat. I ate it so that I could have the full experience. I also know that pigs are raised in humane conditions at someone's house. The pig was marinated in homemade wine.

Our most excellent guide Amiran.
Stalin overseeing our meal. 
We ended the day visiting the Abustamani Observatory. We met R. Natsvlishvili. He is an astronomer that has founded planets, stars, and 107 flare stars. This was a very cool place. We got to look at the moon and Jupiter and three of its moons. I was thrilled to talk astronomy with him through our interpreter.

The telescope looking out at the moon.