Well, here I am in Tbilisi. My first visit to Georgia. My first visit to the Caucusus.
I arrived in the early evening yesterday (Sunday, 12th May) to a thunderstorm and torrential downpour. By the time I got to my city centre apartment and found somewhere for dinner, the day was gone.
Today has been about finding my way a bit in a new place. Orientation.
As promised, my apartment is quiet, comfortable and well located. The plumbing and wiring are kind of “post Soviet”, but it all works. There is a noticeable slope in the bedroom floor.
Breakfast was easy – it involved 5 Lari (about £1.35) and a 100 metre walk. Ideal.
After tackling that wee challenge, I just turned right and went wherever my instinct took me. The cablecar across the Mtkvari and up to Narikala Citadel was a highlight. Good value at 2.5 Lari.
From Narikala I meandered through the Botanical Garden. It was another highlight. Georgia’s unique climates mean it has many species (380) which are found nowhere else. The garden is a wonderful place to relax.
People? Well locals are friendly, and very willing to help a visitor. The older ones speak Russian as well as Georgian. The younger ones, English. Only 84% of locals are Georgian. The Abkhaz and South Ossetians have de facto seceded now, with a bit of help from Russia. I believe you can visit Abkhazia but not South Ossetia. I am not going near either.
The weather has been better today. Sunny and up to 25⁰c, but with a breeze so that walking about was pleasant.
I keep trying to get my head around where I am. Grozny in Chechnya is 300km (185 miles) north, through the Caucusas. The Caspian Sea is 500km (310 miles) eastwards. The Black Sea is 300km west. Alaverdi in Armenia is only 120 km (75 miles) to the south.
Food? I had acharuli xachapuri for lunch, with a bean, walnut, coriander, garlic and onion (lobio) filling. I have quickly realised it is not a place to visit if you are watching your weight.
Dinner was something light.
It is such a photogenic city. I am excited about tomorrow already.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2019