Gori, Uplistsikhe, Mstsikhe & Tbilisi

Here I am in Tbilisi after another few eventful days. After I wrote the last update I thought I would go and have a nice cigar and a beer before bed. Wrong, no sooner had I sat down than I was called over by a man his wife and four of their friends (all in their mid 30’s I think). We had a chat about my travel adventure over numerous toast of vodka to all sorts of things, loads more beer just kept appearing in front of me as well as spicy meet dumplings, bread, etc… . I then agreed that the man who had invited me over would be my guide and taxi driver for the following day and we would meet up outside the Stalin museum with his journalist wife who wanted to interview me about my travel in the Caucasus region.

The following morning the interview took place along with photos as well. Then around the Stalin museum. Some interesting and odd exhibits including his old house and a railway carriage and lots of photographs. The people of Gori are quite proud of their boy, a bit odd considering the untold lives it cost to achieve what he wanted to. Interesting to note that his Grandson now sits in the Georgian parliament, something that I had not even considered, that he may have had children (and two wives). Lots of very good old photographs of him.

Another cave complex after that at Uplistsikhe, no monks here just loads of tourists, stopped on the way to get a loaf of bread off my taxi driver friend’s mother in law and a bunch of grapes from a bloke at the side of the road. Something to keep you busy whilst enduring the roads, sorry tracks. I then moved on to Mstsikhe, one of the most important religious sites to all Georgians, supposed home to Christ cloak from the cross that was taken back to Georgia. I found a fabulous but small hut for rent in a park for under 10 pounds. With the help of a shop keeper and a pensioner that showed me the way to the huts which admittedly, were out of the way.

I visited the important Cathedral and another monastery on a hill overlooking the town, and then headed for a superb Sunday lunch. Huge salad, mineral water, best pork kebab, meat and potatoes and loads of bread. The best meal yet. Only me in the restaurant which is a vast old Georgian house, everybody involved in the preparation or serving of the meal (which appeared to be most of the family) came in and said hello. Followed by Georgian coffee, (very , very thick, black and sweet) and a cigar in amongst the vines and fruit trees overlooking the river where a man in his rowing boat was fishing. It really was that idyllic.

Now in the vibrant city of Tbilisi, the bus station is one giant tangled organisation of Ford transit minibuses as far as the eye can see, with market stalls of ever description, selling anything and everything and a lot more in between from apples (I was hungry) to Zippo lighter refills (just ran out). The Metro was a doddle, despite being in Georgian script. Like all other X USSR metros, you need to listen to the last word of the announcement on the train tannoy before the doors close. Because that is the next train station and be prepared to jump off if it is not the right one, you only have 3 seconds to make the decision. It really is a change of pace from the countryside, very vibrant and full of life

Off to take in some sites and may be a beer you never know.