Blog Archives

Georgia Love! – Post 600

Live Rural NL Blog has now reached 600 posts and more than 795,000 views! I primarily write about the Great Northern Peninsula, but for this post I opted to share a recent travel experience of a rural Newfoundlander:

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During Easter holiday I travelled to Georgia, which is at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe and nestled just south of the Russian border. This was one of the most memorable trips taken, imagine to leave Canada on holiday to go to a mountain country that had lots of snow. I even stopped to visit the Town of SNO! IMG_20150407_094941

Georgia offered the perfect mix of natural beauty, historic charm with traditional food and culture to compliment their ever expanding tourism industry. However, you would just have to go there to truly experience it.

I flew in Tbilisi and toured the capital for a day, while waiting for clearance that the road would be open. Apparently, there was lots of snow on the mountain roads and crews were working hard to ensure it would be clear to allow travel, however, with the Easter holiday no one could give assurance that it would be open for travel. I would have been deeply disappointed if I had not gotten to Kazbegi, which borders south of Russia.

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Tbilisi has a cobblestoned old town which has markings of Persian and Russian rule. The architecture is quite diverse when taking the cable car to the top of the hill as you can see all the surroundings. One will pass Orthodox churches, art nouveau buildings with ornate balconies, a reconstructed 4th-century citadel and the iconic statue of Mother Georgia to name a few.

It was remarkable to visit the museums, galleries and visit the small shops as local entrepreneurs sold their wares – carpets, honey and local fruit and nut treats were commonplace. It was a treat to sample some of the homemade cheeses and talk with owners. Georgia was a peaceful place to travel, as no one tried to get you to buy their product or lure you into their shop. It was an extremely welcoming place to truly experience and enjoy. The city boasted some impressive architecture, only enhanced from aerial views which included the bridge of peace. Many of the churches were filled with local people as they celebrated their Easter holiday.

Since the roads had taken longer to open than expected, the option to visit neighbouring churches and monstaries were added to the vacation including the Mtskheta from Church of Jvari. One could see candles being lit, prayers sent and artwork on display. There were livestock, beautiful views and wares to be purchased in the adjacent town.

After dinner, clearance was given to travel to Kazbegi. This meant no mini-bus option and that a driver had to be hired but the cost of a 4 hour drive was not much more than a taxi from Toronto airport to a downtown hotel. Arriving to a moonlit view of the mountains was just too perfect! IMG_20150407_061103

After a nice breakfast, mountain hiking to the Gergeti Trinity Church, which sits below 16,500-foot Mt. Kazbek in the Caucasus Mountains of Kazbegi was in order. The 14th-century monastery, at 7,100 feet, was the goal. The 1,400-foot climb provided unforgettable experience as at the Church, it provided a true snapshot of rural Georgian life. Hours of hiking and a little sunburn was certainly worth it!

If you need a place of the ultimate rest and relaxation, than Kazbegi is that perfect rural town that offers horseback riding in the mountains, delicious foods and local authentic encounters.

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After a swim, reading and adoring the mountains, this special place offered an easy place to rest. An early morning would mean a visit to a partially frozen waterfall where I brought my Downhome Magazine, more monasteries, Sno village and of course road closures while the snow was cleared on the mountain roads. Delays were no bother, as this holiday was just perfect. Georgia well exceeded my travel expectations and I do hope to return in the future to this amazing place.

One of the best moments, was the stop at this viewing area, the art, the view and memories…it all came full circle.

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Georgia Love!

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Firewood on the Hills – Grandois, NL

On January 24th, 2012 I returned to the quiet community of Grandois or St. Juliens (currently used interchangeably). In 1980 this community was connected via road to neighbouring Croque and to Main Brook – which remains today a 30 km gravel road craving some crush stone. Although, the blanket of snow cushioned the numerous potholes.

The view from the harbour is worth the ride. The tiny islands and hamlets showcase the remnants of re-settlement. During the summer a boat tour can be arranged to see the Ghost Towns that remain on these islands.

On this chilly day in January, one could see the chimneys burning, heating the homes. I stopped and took the photo of the tiers of firewood on the hill. A view of the community can be seen from here. There are very few homes, of which many are currently vacant. The closure of the cod fishery in 1992 – left the community, like many other outports struggling to survive.

The community of Grandois at its peak had 135 people. Today, those numbers have dropped drastically into the low double digits. Despite the population decline, limited water supply and lack of community services – the residents are extremely hospitable and a pleasure to talk about the past, present and future. We must savour the beauty this place offers the people who continue to call this place home. There is a wealth of history in this community on the French Shore. It may just be the next place you want to visit.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Sometimes a Name Does Say It All – Paradise, NL

I have spent more than a year of my life living literally in Paradise. I had moved from 55  1/2 Bell’s Turn in The District of Virginia Waters to Paradise in the fall of 2005 as I continued my studies at Memorial University. I stayed in Paradise until December 2006, when I hopped across the pond and spent the next year of my life in Europe – working, studying, travelling and consuming culture. In 2008, I completed my last semester at Memorial University while living in Paradise, NL in the District of Mount Pearl North.

The Town at the time had a tag line “A Community in Progress”. Although, most likely true – with that type of tagline it was indefinitely selling itself short. I only noticed this sign on my past visit in 2011/12 that the sign illustrated a new brand for the Town.

Welcome to Town of Paradise “Our Name Says It All…”

My area of interest at Memorial was Marketing and I commend the Town of Paradise for capitalizing on its name and selling them in a more grown-up manner with much more to offer residents and visitors.

Although, I no longer live in the Town – I am living in my own Paradise. I am home and have been since 2009.

However, it is important to think about how your Town or Community is being portrayed by residents and travellers. How are you marketing? What are you doing to be placed on the map?

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
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