For those who want to explore Georgia further after the conference, two 1-day tours and a 2-day tour will be offered on July 9th and July 10th and 11th, respectively. Two alternative 1-day tours on July 9th will take conference participants to the Trinity Church in Gergeti located in the high mountains or to the medieval city of Sighnaghi.
The 1-day tour to Gergeti on July 9th goes initially to the west of Tbilisi passing the ancient capital of Georgia, Mtskheta. The tour then turns to the north along the river Aragvi heading to the final destination, the Trinity Church in Gergeti which is located at an elevation of 2170 meters under Mount Kazbegi. A short stop will be made at the Ananuri castle and the nearby lake. Lunch will be offered at a local restaurant in the town Kazbegi. The tour will end around 19.00 at the conference hotel.
The alternative 1-day tour on the same day (July 9th) goes to the medieval city Sighnaghi to the east of Tbilisi. The tour includes visits of the local museum as well as the place of the famous Georgian painter (primitivist) Niko Pirosmani. Lunch and wine testing is planned at the local restaurant “Peasants Tears”. The tour will also end around 19.00 at the conference hotel.
The 2-day tour on July 10th and 11th will start with the visit of Bolnisi Sioni Cathedral, a Georgian Orthodox basilica and one of the oldest church in Georgia. Bolnisi Sioni Cathedral is known for its Georgian inscriptions. These are one of the oldest historical documents of the Georgian alphabet. The next stop before lunch will be at Dmanisi archaeological site which is the earliest known hominid site outside of Africa. The barbeque-style lunch will be served in the local village or at the lake Paravani. The final destination of the first day is the ancient city in caves Vardzia. The dinner will be served at a small hotel in Vardzia where the participants will also stay the night. The next day the tour will continue along the Kura valley visiting the medieval town Akhaltsikhe, the town Bordjomi known for his natural water sources, and one or two churches with old wall-painting. The tour will end at about 19.00 at the conference hotel on July 11.