That’s hello in Georgian which is where I am right now during the pandemic. Since we’re all so focused on the news and the latest statistics, I wanted to share more positive times with you and reminisce about my recent travels and how it’s affected my latest artwork.
At the beginning of the year I was still working away in my studio in Croatia; but the days were getting warmer and Winter started to loosen its hold, so I decided to head to the coast for an inspirational trip as the sea was calling me again. I made my way to Rijeka, a port city on the Kvarner Bay in the northern Adriatic, known as a gateway to Croatia’s islands.
A couple highlights were visiting Trsat Fort, perched high on a hill overlooking all of Rijeka and a 7km walk near the shore to the neighbouring city of Opatija, a place where Austrian Royalty spent their summer vacations.
I then headed to the coastal town of Budva, Montenegro which is located South of Croatia for the entire month of February. It’s a lovely country with long, gorgeous beaches and charming coastal towns all set amongst towering, majestic mountains. It’s incredible the number of abbeys and monasteries that are built waaaaay up on seemingly unapproachable cliffs. Most notable is the city of Kotor. Their fortifications are situated on steep slopes, but when viewed from below, they almost look more delicate than formidable – like a ribbon woven through the mountainside. Their crowning achievement is the Fortress of St. John which sits roughly 850 feet above sea level and to get to the top, you must conquer about 1,500 stairs! Since I was pressed for time, I made it about half way before having to turn back so I could explore more of the Old town and the famed Riviera. It’s definitely something I would recommend doing if you’re ever in the area. The Montenegrin people are very easy going, friendly and helpful so I really felt at home here.
For March I continued on and flew to Athens, Greece as it’s been a lifelong dream to travel there as I’ve always been interested in ancient history and especially Greek Mythology from my University days. My first impression of Athens was it was MASSIVE, it stretched on forever. With over of three million residents and of course a historical site on almost every corner, their civilization can be traced back beyond 800BC.
I managed to take in the Acropolis – Parthenon, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch, Tower of the Winds and Piraeus Port to name a few in the 2 weeks I was there. There was so much to see and do, it was a bit overwhelming, so I didn’t really get much daily painting done. I had planned to see some of the various islands but when things took a turn for the worse in Italy, I decided to play it safe and distance myself from others and avoided large tourist areas.
Luckily though the trip I planned next wasn’t interrupted but it ended up being the last remaining flight out before the borders closed in Georgia. After a strict scrutiny of my passport stamps and a health examination I made it through customs and self-isolated myself for 2 weeks. This small European country has been applauded for their early response to the virus and I’m very thankful to be here (yes, I’m still in Europe, not the US State.)
Georgia or Sakartvelo is how they like to refer to their country is another up-and-coming tourist destination located in the Caucasus region. Situated between Russia in North and Turkey in South it’s a land of stunning natural beauty, with rivers and magnificent mountainous regions, full of historical sites, and of course many many wineries. Georgia is one of the oldest wine regions in the world as they’ve been producing it for over 8000 years! Wow. They have over 400 different species of grapes and are very proud of their wine… in fact right at the border every visitor gets a bottle of wine as welcoming gift. Despite all their struggles and history of conflict and occupation, people here are very welcoming. Their official moto is: “Guests are a Gift from God.” Because of that, Georgia is famous amongst freelancers and world travelers because of its very cheap cost of living, low-income taxes and their unique tourist visa that lasts for 356 days.
Right now, I’m situated in the second largest city of Batumi, which is also called the “Vegas of the Black Sea”. It attracts many Russian and Turkish visitors looking for a fun filled, exciting summer. I’m not a gambler so I’ve been enjoying the city because it’s next to the Black Sea and they have many outdoor activities and of course wonderful cuisine. The language though is one of the hardest to learn in the world so that’s still going to be a work in progress.
NEW PRINT RELEASES
Of course, I worry about these uncertain times, it’s caused me to struggle to pick up my brush but once I force myself to just play and have fun, suddenly I feel immense relief. Art has always been my creative therapy and my best medicine for anxiety and a troubled mind.