I got a surprising e-mail from Timour Rasulov the other day. He and his girlfrriend Marina had just gotten back from Abkhazia.
Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia were in the news last summer in what was dubbed the 2008 South Ossetia War. If you are interested in this "skirmish" and the subsequent fallout, I would recommend you research on your own, looking at different points of view.
Located on the Black Sea, Abkhazia has a stretch of coastline that is supposed to be stunningly beautiful. And, just a smidgen north of the Abkhazia Republic northern boundary is the Black Sea city, Sochi. Sochi is the city that was awarded the 2014 Winter Olympics. The day the Winter Olympic Committee was going to announce the winner of the Games, then President Putin went to the ceremony and made a personal sales pitch. I say this last bit simply to say that President Obama's going to Denmark was not unprecedented for a world leader and was politically a good maneuver and good for the country, despite the fact Chicago wasn't selected.
The images below were taken in Abkhazia. After Abkhazia, Timour and Marina drove their car through Volgograd and all the way to Cheboksary (to visit Marina's parents), then to Vladimir (to visit Timour's father) before driving east 120 miles to their home in Moscow.
Using the maps below, see if you can spot Timour's native country, Uzbekistan, and his current home, Moscow. Also, make sure to spot Abkhazia and see where it is in relation to Georgia and Sochi. Click each map once to enlarge. Not on these maps is the city of Vladimir, which is about 120 miles east of Moscow. Marina's family home, Cheboksary, is between Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod (map one).
A post about Timour's father and the Golden Ring city where he lives can be seen after this one.
This mountain wall is a cave monastery of the 2nd century. It's still not known how monks climbed up/down to the caves. Nowadays, only professional climbers with special equipment can reach them.