Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Travels in Georgia: Days 1 and 2

We left Tel Aviv at about 10:15pm en route to Tbilisi, Georgia. The flight left on time and arrived about 2.5 hours later. I was a little apprehensive about flying Georgian Airways but all turned out well (The airplane food was really bad but on the way back it was ok. Bring a snack.). I had gotten sick (just a head cold) the day before we left. Even though I took way too much decongestant, I was still clogged. I had a very painful flight and was sure I had an aneurysm by the time we landed.

The airport in Tbilisi is sad. It really foreshadows much of the Georgian experience. Once the plane came to a stop, we exited and were driven by bus to the arrival area. The airport was very clean but dingy and worn. It's lighted with bad fluorescent lights and is painted an institutional green. There are just two immigration officers to check you in. Luckily not more than one plane seems to land at a time. Somehow I was the last person to squeeze into the door of the first bus to the terminal. That meant that I was the first one off. I ended up being the first one of our group to enter Georgia! One sad carousel for baggage eventually started to roll. We got our bags and exited the airport.

There was a crowd of cab drivers outside the exit that reminded me of The Night of the Living Dead. In the shadowy glow of a couple street lamps they quietly approached people saying, "Taxi, taxi." They weren't shouting or anything. Seriously it was like mummies or something - grrr, grrr, taxi, grrr, grrr. Weird.

The baggage claim area of the Tbilisi airport.

Y's dad called the driver we hired for the week and we finally located him in the crowd. We loaded our stuff in his 9 passenger van that was to be our home on the road for the next several days and drove 35 minutes or so to our hotel in downtown Tbilisi.

We arrived at the Hotel Tori and checked in. The Tori is very western - new, clean - not really anything to write home about. The beds are hard though. End of Day 1.

Day 2:

The view from our window.

Old Russian cars parked on the street.

The Georgian State Opera House - right up the street from our hotel

Day 2 Breakfast
In the morning of our second day, we ventured out of the hotel on foot to find breakfast and to get our bearings.

Around Tbilisi. We bought two posters of the Georgian alphabet from a shop not far from this place. When the lady tallied up our total she used an abacus! Throughout the trip I noticed many shopkeepers use them. In the shop where we bought our posters there were two generators. The electricity supply isn't very reliable and folks use gas generators when they need to.

Tbilisi State University. Y's mom studied here.

Displays in the Geology Department

The Geology Department. I think rocks are neat.

Lunch: Before

Lunch: During

Lunch: After!

The view from the lunching place.

We visited a mountain lake after lunch.

We went to this park complete with a huge TV antenna and dramatic overlook.

The snack bar at the park had seen better days. The park was once accessible via a sky-tram via downtown Tbilisi. It no longer works and the parts from the tram are scattered by the mechanical building. Remains of a better past echoed loudly during our experience in Georgia.

The view from the park.

The main park building. This was once a large cafe and had a dance floor too. The previous photo shows the view from this location.

Stuffed from our big lunch, we headed late in the day to the main market in Tbilisi. It was amazing! Even late, the area was buzzing. We bought fruit, veggies, bread and cheese for dinner.

Here the shopkeeper weighs our fruit. Notice the old weights to counter balance the fruit! I never saw an electronic scale anywhere in Georgia.


At 4/19/2006 11:14 PM, Anonymous Sharon said...

Fascinating! I can't wait for more!

At 4/20/2006 9:28 AM, Anonymous Kari said...

Loved the pictures. Again, the way you describe it makes me feel like I am there. Beautiful landscapes... and it seems like you enjoyed your lunch :).

At 4/25/2006 6:50 PM, Blogger Sam said...

"aneurysm" & "mummies" - funny!

Rocks - I was gonna be a geologist when I grew up. I have tons of rock & mineral specimens.

That lake looks green...

Love the write-up and pics!

(Sorry it took me so long to visit.)


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