Dan went down to Georgia: Part III

About two years late but better than never, here is the final chapter of our Georgia triptych. You’ll have to go back a few posts to find parts one and two but I’ll add a callout or something later.

After a big yesterday of driving all over Georgia it was time to head back to Tbilisi and that means another Bolt! trip. We wanted to get a little before leaving so Sachie wanted to go back to the market where there were some exchange booths. But first, breakfast.

That’s at the fancy cafĂ© around the corner, the serve beer at 10am, if you ask them to. Miss Sachie did so.

Here’s the view around the other corner:

I didn’t want to walk all the way to the change booth at the market, which is a bit sketchy anyway, everyone in black tracksuits. Besides, the police roadblock in front of the hotel was making me nervous.

Out on the street there were more police, and no traffic. People clustered here and there. Was it a protest? Some sort of civil disturbance? Had someone stuck up Mamuka for his spare-change donations?

None of the above, It was a parade! National day was pretty soon but I don’t know why the good citizens of Telavi had chosen today to assemble in their dozens, on our street, near our hotel. Could it be? Maybe the word was about?

No, he’s not holding a sign that says “Goodbye Dan & Sachie, it was great to have you.” They probably do this every year. I mean, maybe they do.

Nope, they’re not wearing t-shirts with my face on them, again.

Not bad though. Actually a pretty fucking awesome occurrence for us to watch.

I like parades and this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a cultural event. Maybe this parade has been going on since Roman times. Who can tell? Not Sachie, she changed money at the bank and we were in the car back to Tbilisi.

By the way, those yellow pipes you see all over the place? They carry gas, like, cooking and heating gas. Apparently the Soviets installed them back in the day but they were too cheap to bury them so they’re just nailed to fences and whatever and you have to go under them to get in your driveway. Don’t overload your ute or you’ll take out heating to the whole neighbourhood.

Here we are back in Tbilisi, right on Freedom Square. That’s St. G up on there giving the dragon what-for, all in gold. If you don’t know the story of Saint George, he didn’t get his reputation for loyal service and getting up early. He plays the leading role in a host of fairytales and legends that apparently date back to Roman times, where he kills a dragon to save the princess. The iconography is uncanny, there is a bronze statue outside the old Melbourne Library that closely matches the one on this column. That is, Mr Saint is on a big horse and it looks like he is doing pest-control on a lizard. I guess when you have to do a dragon in statuary you don’t go Smaug-scale. I like this view better:

Take this you scaly fucker! I’m very happy with this shot, it looks, meaner. More violent than heroic. Here’s our hotel:

Not bad, but I can’t help feeling that it would be better if it was… lower. That’s right, all the best things in Tbilisi are subterranean, like this restaurant:

Even the hotel pool is in the basement:

Sorry about the appalling quality.

I expect that in a place with harsh winters the best things are found in the earth’s bosom. The best bars and clubs are basements too, perhaps it’s to do with the cheap rent. Fortunately for us, we were not visiting in the dead of winter but in the full blush of spring so let’s go for a walk.

That’s what they are doing. Mother and children delivering wine. To me.

One can walk up the hill, so we did, on our way to the gardens on the other side, via Salami Street.

We did not sample the delights of Salami Street, but there is always next year.

No, today we were off to the botanic gardens. If you had told 22-year 0ld me that I would choose to spend an afternoon on holiday in botanic gardens I would have finished my pint in one swig, exhaled cigarette smoke and said “What!? I can’t hear you over the band!” But there is no shortage of folks who will tell you that I was a bit of a dickhead at 22. Indeed, there are a few around that will say the same of me today. But wait, what’s that sound?

Well that actually looks like a lot of fun. Where do they…

Bloody hell! That really looks like it’s worth doing! Sadly, we are at the wrong end. It will have to wait for the next visit.

The gardens are completely lovely. If hilly.

I don’t know what this chap was about.

We tarried by this pond and were treated to a chorus of frog-song.

Miss Sachie says I sound like this sometimes. I seriously doubt it.

The pond was alive with them, hundreds perhaps.

That’s a heck of a gorge.

Again in the theme of all good things being underground (in an earthquake zone?) here’s a fine shop of tourist tat but it’s a bit pricy for us. But they sell the local honey and foolishly give away free samples.

Nope, it’s time to meet Will on what turned out to be the coldest night on our trip for a hearty meal of chicken cooked in milk. This was a fancy restaurant where they sing traditional songs for you, if you’re unlucky. Top volume too.

And here we are at the airport. I have ducked out for a smoke (quit now) in sub-zero, windy weather and I don’t get how this dog tolerates it.

That’s it for our first visit to Georgia. Can’t wait for our next one. Those links I mentioned at the top of the post? I put them down here. If you have not already, read Georgia Day One and Georgia Day Two.

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