The first peaceful democratic transfer of power
since the fall of the USSR has happened here in Georgia! Hurrah!
It looks like a lot of changes will be taking place, but I'm really not the one to ask about the intricacies of the current political situation. I have heard different things from different Georgians and expats. Mostly they say "we shall see!"
However, I am the one to ask about a weekend trip to Kazbegi, the town near Mount Kazbek in the Caucuses Mountains (the town is technically named Stepantsminda now
but everyone still knows it as Kazbegi)
If you decide you don't have time or the inclination to read more of this blog,
just watch this music video.
Traditional and modern Georgian dance!
It sums up a lot of the awesomeness that is Georgia.
Watching it will make your life at least 15% more amazing. And Georgian.
For real. Watch it.
Also, I have a cold and don't feel like editing, so ignore any silly mistakes in this post.
If you're planning a trip to Georgia, Kazbegi is the place to go! It's only a 10 lari (about 6 dollar) three hour marshutka ride north of Tbilisi.
(Before someone accuses me of spelling marshutka wrong, here in Georgia they drop the second 'R'!)
We first stayed a night in Tbilisi at Why Not? Tbilisi Hostel which we would have thought
was someone's house if not for the sign.
A nice place, but I would recommend opting out of the 17-people dormitory
unless you want a mattress on the floor.
Also, we were sadly unable to try their breakfast, as we left so early.
And right now, they have tiny kittens!
(To play with, not for breakfast, you silly.)
The beginning of our weekend was a comedy of errors: couldn't get a taxi, forgot certain necessary items, phone not working, forgotten Georgian PIN numbers, couldn't find our friends, and a poor little kid threw up on the marshutka.
I don't blame the kid - the roads are awful and the driver was a normal Georgian one, meaning, incredibly fast. In fact, the marshutka could be terrifying at times, as it drove so close to the edge that no road was apparent from the window. If you aren't one to be seriously distracted by the lovely scenery or enjoy a little bit of danger, just look straight ahead.
And if you're prone to carsickness, plan accordingly!
Guest houses and restaurants can be a bit expensive, and the restaurant service is notoriously bad (we ended up shopping at little markets and picnicking a lot) but you can always just do a day trip!
Or stay at the Nazi guesthouse? Maybe it was cheaper. We didn't go check.
Now it all sounds completely awful, but really, it was worth all of the hazards and an amazing weekend. I would go back to Kazbegi anytime!
See the mountain pictures to understand!
The Gergeti Trinity Church
or, as my friend refers to it, "that Georgia place" due to its proliferation on guidebook covers.
(also known as Tsminda Sameba)
(also known as Tsminda Sameba)
We hiked up to the church (though you can get a ride from a taxi/jeep if you want) and witnessed a baptism from the happiest baby I've ever seen in its gorgeous, incense filled interior.
There were many tourists, Georgians and backpackers from all over, and it was a shock to me to see other foreigners - I have seen non-Georgians a total of once in Sagarejo!
As a lady, you have to wear a skirt and headscarf to enter most Georgian churches.
Here we are looking fly.
We found a perfect little rock alcove to indulge our nerdiness
and be Sam and Frodo from the Lord of the Rings.
Someday I will write a post explaining my theory that Georgia is in fact Middle Earth.
I bet you had no idea that Google had expanded into the tiny Georgian Market Business.
And they even sell wine!
That night we stayed at a guesthouse for 30 lari, which is pricy if you have Georgian hostels in mind (they usually run 10 to 20 lari), but the beds were amazing and breakfast was included.
Our host/waiter was very strange and not a little gruff, but he also gave us blankets while we sat outside looking at the stars and sipping wine, so all was forgiven.
Then we walked to a church we had seen from Gergeti that was obviously off the beaten track, since we forged our own path through the woods part way and only saw two other backpackers.
It was a great view and a fabulous place for a tea party and a nap.
It's always tea time.
We returned to Tbilisi that weekend and after visiting the most terrifying of cheap Georgian hostels (pink walls, nasty carpets, no windows and scary people) we ended up at the trusty Hostel Georgia, nothing fancy, but only 5 Euro a night!
The next day were elections and we hoped to see a parade or something exciting,
but the city was oddly quiet.
An oddly quiet government building.
In all it was a lovely weekend, and so nice to be in the quiet of the mountains for a time!
I am very tempted to just trek off into the Caucuses rather than teach school....
If you haven't watched that music video posted above, GO DO IT!