I’ve always wished to take a bath in the Caspian Sea

And I know that today it will happen!
Because you guys voted we should head towards the Russia’s coast to the Caspian Sea.
Let’s not waste another moment and let’s get going. Of course, reaching the sea will require to fly over the western part of the Caucasian Mountains. This part seems different from the eastern one. Vertical peaks, vast steppes sometimes with arid scenery and many, many bizarre encounters.

To illustrate the last point, not far from Mount Elbrus, in one of the countless picturesque valleys, we’ll make a (quick) stop in the City of the Dead:
Dargavs Cemetery Definitely not a place to linger. This is actually a 16th century Ossetian cemetery where each crypt belongs to a family and the taller the crypt, the more members it has underground. Although there are no navigable rivers in the area (remember that we’re at over 1500meters altitude), some archeologists discovered that the dead were buried in wooden structures that look like boats. This mystery is explained by the fact they believed the departed will need to cross a river in order to get to heaven. Another interesting presence is that of a well in front of each crypt. It is said that once the Ossetians buried their dead, they would drop a coin in the well. If it happened to hit a stone at the bottom, it was taken to mean that the soul had reached heaven.

Making a stop to the City of Dead is no random choice. Recently we had a loss in the family, it was my last alive grandma, my last of all my grandparents whatsoever. Stopping here is a sign of respect for the ones that are no longer among us and are now in a better place, or – if you believe in reincarnation – starting a fresh life, or .. who knows, one day we’ll found out :)

Until then, there’s plenty of beauty to be observed. And what a good place to observe is Caucasus!
Mount KazbekSome art of flight !

Picture yourself surfing this snow with your proffered means of gliding: snowboard, skis, sleigh, a bag (?).. If you haven’t already seen The Art of Flight, then you should probably do it. Can’t help myself sharing this amazing footage with bits from the movie, combined with breathtaking music from M83. You don’t need to be a snow-fan to watch this. It’s pure awesomeness!

“Ok,ok .. but where’s the sea?” you might ask. It’s so hard to not linger in this amazing places..
The sea is near, my friends. It’s easy to anticipate it because the landscape changes dramatically. The snow and the forests are replaced by canyons and dry vegetation. What if a concrete monster will hold the waters in place, stop their flow to the sea and flood one entire canyon? Meet Chirkey Dam, one of the Russia’s biggest, and for sure the tallest. Photos of the construction stages and the surroundings can be found here.
Chirkey_Dam

Now .. what if this dam would break and tons of water will be released creating the most exciting river rapids? Would this get us faster to the sea? We would roll our magic carpet and take a speed boat instead. You really need to see this:

Oh boy, what a ride!
And there’s the sea! Viewed from the fortress of Derbent which is considered the place where the great wall of Alexander (the Great himself) used to separate the Eurasian Steppe and the Middle East. This was the main way to cross the Caucasus mountains so you can imagine its importance.
Fortress of Derbent

This places are so different from what we’re used to. And we can’t wait to explore them. But first, a bath in the sea it’s in order and then, with the dawning of a new day, we’ll fly to another adventure!

sunrise at the Caspian Sea