On the road to Kazbegi the cloud parts briefly behind a medieval tower at the village of Sioni. But at Kazbegi, the magnificent 5047 metre hulk of rock, stunning so many travellers, just isn't there. It hides stubbornly behind cloud.
All we see is the picturesque Trinity Church above Gergeti village and slowly realize what the villagers always knew; there are two Kazbegis; one with the mountain, the other Pushkin's, and ours without.
Plainly the only place to see it today is at the Kazalikashvili Alpine museum - one of the best, least pretentious portrayals of man's fascination with rock and ice I've seen. And this time we are lucky. There Alexi Zazalikashvili, son of the museum's creator, invites us in. 'Yes, I've climbed the mountain twice,' he says simply, 'and I've seen the Bethlehem chapel at 4100 metres.' He points to a spot on a photograph of the mountain, as if to a place of forgotten poetic significance.
I remember this moment as we drive on down the infamous Daryal Gorge - setting for so many Romantic poems, and inspiration for Lermontov's extraordinary 1839 novel 'Hero of our Time' probably the book that bought me to Georgia.