6 Pieces of Advice for Rookie Tourists Visiting Georgia

For those of you who have never really heard of it, Georgia is a beautiful remote country located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. It is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of Georgia is Tbilisi. Travelling there can turn out to be a magical experience. Discovering a totally different world, with deep Communist scars skillfully blended with really old churches and breathtaking views, here are 6 pieces of advice for rookie tourists visiting Georgia.

1. Don’t get yourself involved in drinking contests with the Georgians.

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There’s no doubt about the fact that they’ll get you under the table – this is a euphemism for they will get you extremely drunk. The only people who can enter drinking contests with them are probably the Russians. Moreover they seem to have some strange alcohol related habits, such as giving toasts all night long or drinking from some kind of sharp cones.

2. If you’ve recently been to Abhazia, consider visiting Georgia another time.

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Abhazia shares the same territory, but considers itself an independent state, despite the fact that The Georgian government and the majority of the world’s governments consider it a part of Georgia’s territory, though Georgia is not in control of it. This region is located on the eastern coast of the Black Sea and the southwestern flank of the Caucasus. Should the Georgians catch you coming from the adversary’s territory you’ll probably end up in jail. They have laws that specify this exact detail.

3. Don’t kiss in front of churches.

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This behavior is considered offensive by inhabitants who are generally speaking pretty religious. They might even beat you up in the name of Orthodoxy.  Traditional behavior is highly respected in these parts of the world. I wonder how they deal with this problem during a wedding.

4. Don’t use your clothes for seaside wear when you visit a church.

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Don’t wear your beach dress or beach pants if you want to visit a church; any church. This would automatically be interpreted as defiance and senselessness. Some of their churches are over 1,000 years old and considered sacred places. You might find someone in front of a church who would lend you a scarf, but don’t push your luck.

5. Georgian drivers are a special type of driver.

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Georgian drivers appear not to have a license. They follow no rules and have no fear. They just seem to know where they want to get and do whatever it takes to get there, missing the fact that the road is not theirs alone. So don’t mess with them and take a defensive driving course before hitting their roads. It may come in as useful; although it’s unlikely you’ll learn anything about anticipating a cow’s next move in traffic. No one knows why, but cows are a big deal in Georgia.

6. The public roads are full of cows that wonder freely, as well as a strange type of pig wearing a strange triangle-shaped yoke around their necks.

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These animals are definitely suicidal, but the sad thing is that because of their quite impressive measures, they are the number one public menace of the country. At least from a humble outsider’s point of view.

8-1 Stairways to Heaven

Stairs have a particular vibe. There’s something about where they lead to, or what they connect, or just how they appear. Stairs are cool, indeed. We simply love them. So here they are: 8-1 stairways to Heaven from around the world.

Some of them are nature-built, some of them are man-made, but they simply represent a symbol of both nature’s friendly invites, as well as man’s incredible conquest abilities.

#1. Scala (Rainbow Staircase), Wuppertal, Germany

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Artist Horst Gläsker took a dull staircase built in between two buildings in the town of Wuppertal and turned it into a rainbow of colors, transforming an eyesore into a bright, energetic spot. He named the 112-step artwork Scala, which stands for “staircase” in Italian, and enhanced it with stencils of German words that refer to human relationship manifestations, such as love, sympathy, and dance.

# 2. Las Pozas, Xilitla, Mexico

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Built by non-conformist English poet Edward James in 1962, this is actually a surrealist garden sculpture that took more than two decades to complete and covers 80-plus acres of Mexican jungle. This modern structure, called Stairway to the Sky, it’s actually a winding staircase one can climb up, but it leads nowhere.

# 3. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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This is a sheer example of Latin vividness. Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón, who began renovating the destroyed steps in 1990 created the famous steps. Choosing to paint the stairs in the bright colors of blue, green and yellow, his simple task soon turned into his greatest artistic passion. The staircase has 250 steps and is covered in tiles collected from countries around the world. This piece of art runs from Rua Joaquim Silva and Rua Pinto Martins, and covers both the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods.

# 4. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, San Francisco, CA

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This tile steps project was conceived and made by Irish ceramicist Aileen Barr and local San Francisco artist, Collette Crutcher. Having over 163 steps, the entire creation process took more than two and a half years to complete mostly because it required helpful actions from the local community to raise necessary funds. Their hard work eventually paid off, as the project was unveiled in August 2005. This public masterpiece is located at 16th Avenue and Moraga in the quiet neighborhood of Golden Gate Heights.

# 5. Heaven’s Gate Mountain, Zhangjiajie City, China

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Visitors to this mountain in China must first take a cable car that lifts them thousands of feet in the air or hop on an apparently dangerous bus ride that goes along a very narrow mountain road filled with countless twists and turns. Once the base of the gaping hole is reached, there are exactly 999 steps leading up to a temple. The latest touristic addition to the mountain is the “sky walk”, which allows tourists to look down at the massive hole below them through a clear glass floor.

# 6. Suspended Bridge over the Traversinertobel, Via Mala, Switzerland

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The Traversinertobel Bridge swings more than 200 feet above the valley of Via Mala. Designed by engineer and architect Jürg Conzett along with Rolf Bachofner, the Traversinertobel solved the question of how to connect two gorges with varying elevations. Before the modern staircase, hikers had to cross from one side to the other with a rope bridge that was destroyed during a rockslide. This suspended footbridge spans a distance of 2,214 inches, with a difference in height of 867 inches between the two ends.

# 7. Taihang Mountains, provinces of Shanxi and Henan, China

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This spiral staircase is about 3.937 inch high, and was recently installed in an attempt to attract tourists to the beautiful Taihang Mountains. Before making the ascent, visitors are asked to sign forms to ensure they do not have heart or lung problems, and are under age 60. And a slip on the narrow metal ladder can certainly lead to disaster.

# 8-1. Staircase to Nowhere, Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA

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Let’s finish with the creepiest one of them all, a wooden staircase that also leads nowhere, but due to strange reasons. Haunted by spirits, widow Sarah Winchester apparently built a beautiful Victorian mansion that has a lot of strange elements, but the most curious may be the staircase that dead-ends in the ceiling. Some speculate that Mrs. Winchester chose this baffling design to confuse evil spirits and throw them off her track.

5 Unusual Snowmen Approaches

Olaf represents innocent love1Well, what can one think of in the middle of summer? Ice cold drinks, lonely beaches, surfing, tanning? Not really, as this post is going to be all about snowmen. Snowmen in the middle of summer are a great reminder of the days when one can only survive dressed up in multiple layers. This seems so far away right now; nevertheless, a quick chat on 5 unusual snowmen approaches that can definitely be a sip of fresh cold air.

The most famous snowman nowadays has to be Olaf, from Frozen. But Olaf stands for innocent love, not to mention that fact that he’s one-year old. So let’s take care of the veterans, shall we?

 1. The first recorded snowmen

One of the inspirations for this article comes from Bob Eckstein’s book, The history of the snowman. The first recording ever of a snowman comes from an illuminated manuscript dated 1380, that can now be found in the Royal Library at The Hague. The manuscript includes a grotesque cartoon snowman alongside a solemn passage about Jesus Christ. This is par excellence the earliest known drawing of a snowman and it has been interpreted as an anti-Semitic representation of a Jew being melted by fire. Sorry about that!

Moreover, according to Eckstein, the first recorded indecent snowmen and snow-women were created back in 1511, when the residents of Brussels, in a fit of anti-establishment anger, filled the city streets with hundreds of pornographic and political snow sculptures.

As far as Italy is concerned, a heavy snowstorm apparently hit Florence in 1494. The city’s ruler of that time, Giovanni di Lorenzo di Piero de Medici, asked a teenage friend to build a snowman in the palace courtyard. The 18-year-old was forced to create a snow sculpture that observers reckoned as the most beautiful snowman that had ever been made. The young sculptor was none other than Michelangelo.

Eckstein’s book describes a snowman calamity in North America during the 1689–1697 war between England and France. On February 8, 1690, while 25 militiamen were on duty in Schenectady, New York State, protecting 150 civilian inhabitants, the weather was so cold that the village gates had frozen open. But the sentries did not believe anyone could be out and about on such a night and so went off to warm themselves, leaving two rifle-wielding snowmen on guard.

Unfortunately the “snow patrol” didn’t fool a 200- party of French Canadian soldiers and Native Americans, who silently passed through the gates, robbed and burned the village, killing 60 villagers and taking 27 prisoners with them.

3. Snowmen in horror states

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Unfortunately, sweet old snowmen have appeared in several horror stories as Yeti. No matter if this means their playing in Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon, featuring a killer Yeti and a football team involved in a plane crash trying to survive in the Himalayas.

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Yeti is a Pixar star as well, starring in Monsters Inc. and having John Ratzenberger doing its voice. That’s definitely a cool one.

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How about Hugo from The Abominable Snow Rabbit in Chuck Jones’ run of The Looney Tunes? That’s a classical to remember.

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And last, but not least, let’s not forget Scooby-Doo and his horror adventures. During their never-ending encounters with all sorts of monsters, Yeti just had to be one of them. The first time was in 1970 in That’s Snow Ghost, and then again in the far more recent, direct-to-video, Chill Out, Scooby Doo.

 4. Snowmen in Art

Here are some paintings by US artist Graham Dale. The images speak for themselves J

5. Snowmen in your Back Yard

I found the cosiest homemade pictures of friendly snowmen here and here, should you be interested in how the Japanese build their own.

22 Famous Epitaphs That Will Make you Fall in Love With their Authors

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Whether you like it or not, we all get there sooner or later. Out time here is limited, despite out forgetting this all the time. Nevertheless, here are some memorably funny or deep or sad epitaphs found on gravestones all around the world. This is all that’s left of them, eventually, apart from memories or photos for the 20th century’s deceased. So here they are: 22 famous epitaphs that will make you fall in love with their authors.  This one is for your followers to see and remember.

For those of you who don’t know it, according to good young Wikipedia, an epitaph is “a short text honoring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial.”

Old historical epitaphs

 

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Man has always had his humour at hand. And it’s just so admirable to see a grave message from the 18th – 19th century containing so much wit.

 Here lies Ann Mann/ Who lived an old maid/But died an old Mann. (1767) Here lies my wife/ Here lies she/Hallelujah! Hallelujee! (In a Leeds graveyard, 1861)

Here lies my wife/ I bid her goodbye/ She rests in peace/ and now so do I. (Unknown source)

Sacred to the memory of my husband John Barnes who died January 3, 1803/ His comely young widow, aged 23, has many qualifications of a good wife, and yearns to be comforted. (A cemetery in Vermont)

Reader if cash thou art/ In want of any/ Dig four feet deep/ And thou wilt find a Penny. (John Penny’s epitaph in Wimborne, England)

I told you I was sick! (A cemetery somewhere in Georgia)

Here lies one Wood/ Enclosed in wood/ One Wood / Within another. / The outer wood / Is very good: We cannot praise / The other. (Winslow, Maine)

Come blooming youths, as you pass by, / And on these lines do cast an eye. / As you are now, so once was I; / As I am now, so must you be; / Prepare for death and follow me. (Effie Jean Robinson, Waynesville, North Carolina) – This one is cynical indeed. That’s one someone felt free to add the following: To follow you / I am not content, / How do I know / Which way you went.

Hooray my brave boys / Lets rejoice at his fall. / For if he had lived / He would have buried us all. (On a gravedigger’s stone)

Here lies / Johnny Yeast. / Pardon me / For not rising. (John Yeast, Ruidoso, New Mexico)

Here lies an Atheist / All dressed up / And no place to go. (In Thurmont, Maryland)

 

Epitaphs of famous people:

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For one who would not be buried in Westminster Abbey: / Heroes and Kings! / your distance keep; / In peace let one poor Poet sleep, / Who never flatter’d Folks like you: / Let Horace blush, and Virgil too. (Alexander Pope (1688-1744)).

My Jesus, mercy (Al Capone)

The best is yet to come. (Frank Sinatra)

That’s all, folks! (Mel Blanc, the voice of cartoon character Porky Pig)

I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter. (Winston Churchill)

She did it the hard way (Bette Davis)

Hey Ram (Meaning Oh, God, Mahatma Ghandi)

Truth to your own spirit (Jim Morrison)

Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m Free At Last (Martin Luther King Jr.)

Never born, / Never died: visited the planet earth between December 11, 1931 and, January 19, 1990. (Osho)

I told you so, you damned fools (H. G. Wells)

All these people did leave something behind. They reflect a somewhat interesting and positive attitude towards death, turning it into something less scary, at least from my point of view.

8 Absolutely Horrible Methods of Execution

Here’s a reminder of mankind’s most cruel inclinations: 8 absolutely horrible methods of execution that were used throughout the world.

The United States is the only major country in the Western world that still allows capital punishment. However sadistic and extremely painful methods have been abolished in most countries that still use this type of punishment. Revolting as it may seem, besides the US, other countries that use such extreme punishing methods nowadays are China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. According to Amnesty International, executions occurred only in 11% of countries worldwide in 2013.

#1. BOILING

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In execution by boiling, the condemned is left naked and then placed in a vat of boiling liquid that could be oil, acid, tar, water, or molten lead. During the reign of King Henry VIII it was a punishment especially reserved for poisoners.

#2. FLAYING

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The flaying method is very ancient. Actually the apostle Bartholomew was flayed and then crucified upside down. His skin and bones can still be found in a Cathedral in Sicily. Basically the skin of the criminal used to be removed from their body while the victim was still alive, with the use of a very sharp knife. The skin was usually kept intact, as a proof of the deed. Afterwards they were then left to die from either shock or infection.

#3. STONING

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Stoning is a method of capital punishment where the condemned is violently attacked with stones until he is practically buried alive. Sudan is one country that uses stoning as part of their punishment for homosexual behavior, particularly against women. Afghanistan seems to have inclinations towards this brutal practice, as an 84-year-old man charged with homosexual activity was killed in Kabul a few years ago.

#4. NECKLACING

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Necklacing is an execution method in which a rubber tyre forced over the arms is and chest of the victim. The tyre is filled with gasoline, and is set of fire. It was a common practice in South Africa during the 1980s and 1990s. It was also used in Brazil, Haiti and in Nigeria during Muslim protests.

#5. BRAZEN BULL

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The Brazen Bull was invented in the 6th Century BC. It was a large brass bull, completely hollow inside, provided with a door on the side, large enough for a man to enter. Once the condemned was inside the bull, a fire would be lit beneath it. Thus the man was roasted to death. Moreover inside the head of the bull, there were a series of tubes and stops designed to amplify the screams of the victim and make them sound like the roar of a bull.

#6. LING CHI

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Ling Chi is basically execution by slow cutting. It was practiced in China until 1905. The criminal is tight to a cross, and the executioner, armed with a sharp knife, begins by cutting from the fleshy parts of the body, such as the thighs and the breasts. After this he removes the joints and the nose, ears, fingers and toes. Then the limbs are cut off, the elbows and knees, the shoulders and hips. Finally, the victim is stabbed to the heart and his head cut off. According to Confucian principles, someone executed like this will not be capable of finding piece and wholeness in his afterlife, either.

#7. THE BREAKING WHEEL

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The breaking wheel was a mediaeval execution device. The criminal would be attached to a cartwheel with his arms and legs stretched out along the spokes. The wheel turned while a heavy metal object would break the victim’s bones in various parts of the body between the spokes.

After the shattering was complete, the wheel would be hoisted to the top of a pole for birds to eat the, sometimes still living, body.

#8. SAWING

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The sawing execution method was used in the Middle East, Europe, and some parts of Asia. It was also used in the Roman Empire, being Emperor Caligula’s favorite punishment method.

So the criminal, hung upside-down had a large saw cutting his body in half, starting with the groin, all the way to the head. Because the person was hanging upside-down, the brain received sufficient blood to keep them alive until the saw finally reached the main blood vessels in the abdomen.