A few days ago, I boarded the minibus and set out for Tbilisi. What I thought would be a four hour ride (so naive) turned into 6 and a half hours, so by the time I actually got to Tbilisi, my motivation to use public transit had dwindled and I just took a cab. Expecting to pay ten dollars or so, I was surprised that the guy only wanted 4 dollars – I’m so confused by what is expensive and what it cheap in this country, but I’ll take the cheap cab.
My first day in Tbilisi, I walked around the city for.. basically the whole day. I set out in the late morning and found a lovely bridge, on which there was quite the bazaar set up. I saw this guy selling Soviet memorabilia and thought of Lesnoe Ozero – I probably should scoop up some goodies and send it back to Minnesota.
There are many parks scattered throughout the city, all of which feature interesting statues. A bird had made this statue’s head its home, which for some reason I found really funny.
This guy reminded me of.. I don’t remember which city. Perhaps the New York subway system? Or Odessa? I just remember some city had little gnome-like statues hiding in corners of its public transportation buildings, and this guy reminded me of those tiny metal people.
Liberty Square, I will admit, was a bit underwhelming. I had expected.. I don’t really know what I expected, but there were nice fountains and a pretty gold statue. I saw Kartlis Deda from here, and I’m determined to go back and take up-close pictures. Expect those within a few days – seeing it involves climbing a tiny mountain, I think.
Eventually, I swung around to Rustaveli Avenue, where a lot of the city’s shops and museums are located. I got some great views there, and there was also a nice wall covered with ivy and flowers that I stopped to sit under and hide from the sun.
This walk led me to a supermarket, called Big Ben, where I met up with a girl who also goes to Georgetown. She had invited me out for an event called Hashing, which I had never heard of. A bigger group, of about 10 people, joined us. They passed out water, and I noticed everyone was wearing running shoes and looking like they were about to go for a jog. Uh……………. Thanks, no thanks. Fortunately, there was a walking group, and we followed a trail (laid out by two people earlier that morning) made of flour. It led us up a steep set of stairs, around a park, across streets, and back down to the starting point. We walked for an hour, talking and getting to know one another. Once back at the park, we stood in a circle and chugged beer in celebration. Apparently these groups meet all over the country, but I just can’t picture how this would work in the US. Using technology of any kind was a “no no,” so I didn’t take any pictures, but I think it was more of an “experience” thing. Afterward, we all went out for a Georgian feast and the great conversation and delicious food refused to quit (not that I’m complaining).
It rained today, and I spent a lot of the day reading and playing cards. I played Phase 10 with two American guys who are in Georgia teaching English for three hours. It turns out that I’m really bad at Phase 10, but in the end, I did not lose by that large of a margin.
I’m really enjoying Tbilisi, and I’m looking forward to a good few days here before flying to Istanbul!