Last weekend I was offered a free trip to Gremi and Nekresi in Kakheti, so I thought “Why not?” and went along for the ride. I’m clearly starting to become jaded from my time in Georgia, because my first reaction was “Oh. Another church on a mountain. Yawn.” Kazbegi definitely wins the prize in the “Churches on Mountaintops” category for me so far, but Nekresi and Gremi were still worth a visit (and much easier to access).
Nekresi has been recently restored, and the wine storage area is impressively extensive. From the monastery you can look West across the beautiful green Alazani Valley and see Telavi in the distance.
While the panoramic views from Nekresi are better, Gremi was on the whole a more interesting place to visit. The complex contains a small museum with portraits of the Kakhetian kings, and a simple but mesmerizing projection of local landscapes onto a sandbox that you could play in to distort the images (I could have been kept entertained
for hours). It was a simple interactive exhibit that really made the museum. We also found the toilet in the museum quite impressive–though it was centuries old, it was more “modern” than those at many tourist attractions.
The best part of the trip, though, was some roadside churchkhela (ჩურჩხელა, Georgian walnut candy ) that was the best I’ve tasted yet!