Richard Dailey, Professor of Economics, University of Montana, Missoula, MT
In my opinion you put together a wonderful 2012 Monastery Tour. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would do it again--provided it had more stops at wineries. :-)
You showed us a lot of the Georgian countryside as well as giving us a good look at the people and culture. I liked that because when I go to a place I want to know about its people. Additionally, you gave us an "inside" look at the Georgian Orthodox church, which was important because from what I saw the church is like a glue that holds the country/people together. If I'm wrong about that, please tell me.
Our trip showed us that Georgia is working hard to overcome its shortcomings in infrastructure and developing the amenities that today's tourists expect. Sure there were some uncomfortable beds and unsightly messes left over from the Soviet era, but that's to be expected. Our having lived in Belarus really helped us to understand that aspect of Georgia a little better.
For me there were several high points on the tour. First was the chanting. It was lonely and I was moved by it. You did a great job getting the members of our group up to speed.
The high point in the chanting was our experience at the church in Ubisa. When those young women surprised us with their chanting we were amazed. For awhile with the two groups we had the dueling chanters. Too bad we couldn't have traveled a little with them.
There were several other small things that were high points for me; meeting the bishop at the vespers service, tasting the wine at the monastery, buying--and devouring---raspberries, the relatively long hike to the monastery, the meal with the family in the village, the toasting at meal time and many others.
I think we had a congenial group. As far as I could tell there wasn't anyone who was really an irritant. As the group leader you may have another opinion on that. But that comes with the territory. In fact there are some people in the group with whom I hope to keep in contact. BTW, we had some very fine voices didn't we?