For sure there are not many things inspiring me to write! Beeing asked to write the second guest entry on this blog is definitely one of those though. So this was the point of time for me to quit talking and start writing.
“Georgia? Sure? Ain’t that dangerous? “ This or similar was the reaction when I was telleing about my next travel destination. And YES! I did not have a clue about this country as well. Not even where to find it. First thing that came up to my mind was the war in the Caucasus and the mafia.
Hoping it would be save enough to spend vacation there and also for the Caucasus war not to start all over, we got on the plane to Tbilisi. Not even touched the ground we were reminded how dangerous this was going to be. Our pilot missed the airport and had to take another slot. Due to the weather conditions several flights were even cancelled – not ours!
So the second try was successful obviously, even though we just made on the last few meters of the runway.
Finally made it there Joerg and Wendy were already expecting us. Well what shall I say: Joerg has definitely grown out of his hairstyle. This beard is just amazing (*censored). He can fit right in with all those Georgians anyway. So here we go with Coocie, beautiful as ever, on the George W. Bush Highway to our hostel in Tbilisi.
The storm has dissolved overnight and after a really long breakfast in a really nice café we went right ahead to see the city.
First thing coming up to me: It’s Americanized! Fast food, the cops drive wild blinking Ford Interceptors and huge brand new buildings that just don’t blend in everywhere. It’s quite obvious that this country is beeing bought by the western countries. Anyway …maybe this is what makes the city so diverse. Going just one block to far you find the Georgia you have always imagined. Russian cars, street markets, donkey drawn carriages and wild traffic.
High above the city we find the Mother of Georgia watching over the city. On the other side a huge antenna surrounded by a (closed) amusement park. From both spots you have a stunning view on the
city, separated by the river Kura and the Sameba Cathedral on the other side. With its golden roof and the huge gardens around, it is definitely one of the highlights of this city.
Sightseeing all day long of course did get us starving. The real Georgian deal got us stuffed in no time! Garlic, meat, stuffed pasta … everything reeeally good.
So after another really long breakfast at our favorite place in Tbilisi we headed out to Ananuri monastery. After a little more than one hour in Tbilisi region roads and landscape turned into more of what we expected. Rural, cattle, donkeys and sheep along and a kind of well-organized anarchy on the road. It makes the country a kind of sympatic. Not only because the donkeys are so sweet. This paradise was soon to be destroyed! Due to heavy snowfalls the pass towards Russia was closed. So the very unamused cops let only Georgians pass. After beeing send back on our first try Coocie broke the ice. One of the cops was really interested and after a little smalltalk in “hand-and-feet” we could convince that we were not going to Russia. So finally we arrived at our destination Ananuri. After visiting the monastery we went off to find a spot for the night. We know now what Joerg meant. “It doesn’t matter when you start the day and how many miles you want to go! You will arrive shortly before sunset.”
It hit us hard the next day right away. We were just wanting to go to the Kechetia County. 60km of county road. Well we know now what bad roads are: tracks, one lane, muddy and really deep holes.
The plan was an hour. In reality it turned out to be an eternity.
Finally we made it to Kachetia and started to look out for a spot to spend the night as we passed the signpost of a winery. There was no question. Within minutes we were in the cellar which could have been grandma’s living room. We of course asked for the guided tour. Imagine it this way: the ruler of this kingdom did not speak a word of any language we understand. Within this tour through the yard and cellar everybody was just giving his best in Georgian, Russian, and hand-and-feet language. All of a sudden everybody had a glass of red wine, tapped with a hose from a big plastic bottle. So after few of those wines and hand-and-feet language we were invited for some food. The lady started to bring Georgian specialties. After this good experience with Georgian cuisine in Tbilisi this was just over the top. Cheese, bread, Chinkali, pickles, sweet marinated walnuts… everything fresh, homemade from the yard and delicious. The walnut especially. So after dinner and a few glasses of wine we were getting the whole thing including the family albums. One more thing: Georgians really “Prost” on literally everything. On family, friends, food, on missunderstandings, understandings and maybe even on the word “Gagimardschos" which means “Prost”. So after some time this really nice guy was so drunk. His glass was twice the size of ours. This was the time for us to leave them and find a spot for the night. A spot on the river bank. The ladies went playing with the horses while the guys went fishing. From there on it was just another night. Fishing, beer, wine, fire, sleep. What a hard life.
Even though we are still not quite sure ift this was the winery we were looking for or if this was just his neighbor, it was an awesome experience.
This hospitality, this warmth was just overwhelming and felt really good.
We envy Joerg and Wendy for getting this experience so often.
The next day, Georgia showed us the best side of its weather conditions. Having breakfast in the sun on the river bank we soon were accompanied by a local. A local street dog called Bernd. Joerg and Wendy call them all Bernd. There are big Bernds, small Bernds, Minibernds, Fluffybernds, Foxybernds and so on. One thing they all have in common: they are freaking cute and nice and sweet! So we of course shared our breakfast with Bernd. A lot of them are so scared though that we don’t even want to imagine what they have experienced.
Our journey today led us to Telawi. The city is known for its wineries and the restored old town. A lot of these beautiful restored houses are not even used. And a lot of them are only nice on the first view. So after a short stop in this city we headed out for another perfect spot. Yeah: beer, wine, fishing, BBQ… alright. Quite soon we got the feeling that there were no fish inside this river as all the locals were giving us a funny smile.
So for our last day we picked a quit stopover in Darwit Garedscha. The monastery on the Azerbaijan border is known for its many caves. The estimated 20km detour turned out to be 2 hours. And the caves were not as accesible as we were thinking. This would be our hiking experience for that time. Up on top you have a stunning view on Azerbaijan and these awesome caves. Pretty much a city in the rocks with amazingly detailed paintings. Maybe the only real sight of Georgia, if you don’t like stunning landscapes, monasteries and really high mountains.
Unfortunately this was our last highlight on the trip with Joerg and Wendy. Of course our time here was way too short. It was cool to see the both of them how they spend their time, organize all
that stuff, beeing happy with their decision and with themselves. Hopefully we can soon check in to Hotel “Coocie” again. Until that day we are of course following the blog and read about
countries we have never heard of.
Thanks to Joerg and Wendy for the good time!
Nachvamdis, Anna & Turbo