MindStorm Photography Blog and Gallery

Travel and Photographs by Burt Johnson and Evelyn Johnson

Filed Under: Tour

Photo Tour Travelers

Wow…  Five countries (Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Armenia) in six weeks. Mehmet Özbalci organized this tour through his company Fantastic Photo Tours, based in Istanbul, Turkey.  We used him in 2016 for a tour of Turkey, and liked his approach so much that we decided to use him again for these countries. I thought we would ... Read more


Armenia 4 – Dilijan

We continued our travels along the Silk Road, an ancient network of trading routes between China and the Mediterranean.  Enroute to our next hotel in Dilijan, we stopped at the Orbeliani Caravansary, a structure where caravans on this Silk Road used to stop for the night.   From the outside (upper left), it is rather unimpressive stone building, so we ... Read more


Armenia 3 – Goris

Enroute to Goris, we got one last view of Mt Ararat behind the Church of Khor Virap, before it disappeared entirely behind a veil of clouds.  As we approached this scene, there was heavy cloud cover overhead, and the monastery was obscured in dark shade.  Watching the clouds, we saw the possibility of better light coming ... Read more


Armenia 1 – Yerevan, Part 1

The last country of our photographic tour with Mehmet Özbalci is Armenia, where we started with three days in the capital city of Yerevan.  It felt like luxury being able to stay in one (excellent!) hotel for 3 nights, and Yerevan proved to have plenty to keep our interest – and our cameras, happy. One of our main ... Read more


Georgia 4 – Akhaltsikhe

We finished our tour of Georgia with a long travel day on the bus going from the far north (Mestia) to the far south of the country to reach Rabati castle, staying in the town of Akhaltsikhe (and no, I still cannot pronounce it even after staying there for a day…).  Lower-left is the view from our hotel ... Read more


Georgia 3 – Mestia

Our tour included a visit to Ushguli, a tower village, and a stop at Lover’s Tower in the Mestia area in 4-wheel drive cars. Mehmet hired two models to dress in traditional clothing (above block) to pose, and to thus add color to our shots. I thought it was interesting to see our local guide to use her iPhone ... Read more


Georgia 2 – Kutasi

We spent our second night in Georgia in Kutasi.  Enroute, we made several stops for photography.  Our local Georgian guide, Gvantsa, liked daisies and picked them whenever we stopped.  Seen above, she has found another field of wild daisies, and is picking a bouquet for her seat on the bus. Throughout Georgia, we often pressed ... Read more


Georgia 1 – Tbilisi

We have complete the Silk Road tour (aka “-Stan countries”), and have now entered Georgia with Mehmet Özbalci. One of our stops on this first day was at the Metekhi Georgian Orthodox church. A wedding was being photographed while we were there, and the groom’s men were willing to pose for us in front of ... Read more


Kazakhstan 3 – Kaiyndy Lake

One of our destinations today was Kaiyndy lakes national park, a lake created as the result of an earthquake induced landslide blocking the river, in the Kolsai Lake National Park. The trees in the region were flooded and died.  However, the water is so cold that the trees did not deteriorate, and instead remain standing, making an ... Read more


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