The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral dates from the 11th century. It was enormous for its time! My hotel is just opposite the cathedral, and it is my view during breakfast! The cathedral has an elongated cross plan and is decorated inside and out with stone carvings. According to the stories, the robe of Christ lies beneath the cathedral, it works many miracles. Vakhtang Gorgasali is buried here as well.
I made an effort to go to Mass on Sunday, and sat for an hour on a hard wooden bench. The Georgian chanting, of which I only understood Hallelujah and Amen, was very impressive. I crossed my legs at one stage and the woman next to me told me off! Apparently, leg crossing in church is not allowed! When the first tourist bus arrived I left! The nice part of Georgian Mass is that you can come and go as you please. I like that idea! Most people stand for the Mass, the only benches are around the edge of the church and are for the elderly, pregnant or disabled people. First time I am happy being ” elderly”!!!
The Samtavro church is also very famous. This is where the first Christian King Miriam and his wife, Queen Nana are buried! Photography is not allowed, although I sneaked one of the royal tombs. The church is part of a nunnery, but once it was part of the palace church of the Lords of Metskheta.
I visited the Jvari monastery , I took a taxi to the top and decided to walk back. According to the lonely planet this could be done! The path was steep and terrible over grown. After five minutes I decided this could not be done safely, so back up I climbed. Walking back to Mtskheta was quite a challenge along the main road. Dodging tourist buses, crazy drivers and bulls was interesting, however not really pleasant! In between I looked at amazing wild flowers on the edge of the road.
It was only seven kilometres, all down hill, so not too challenging. Just before I reached the highway a taxi stopped and took me the last two kilometres, which I would have been able to make easily, but there was a storm brewing, and people who know me well, know that I am shit scared of electrical storms. I managed to get back just in time, before all hell broke loose. There is not much more to do here except the archeological site on the other side of the river.
I wanted to walk along the river to this archeological site, however this was not possible. Such a shame, but it would have been another ten km along the road, a repeat of the downhill Jvari Monastery experience, I declined. It was hot and humid, and I ended up doing very little, visited a small monastery with amazing frescoes.
Did some washing, worked in my diary, googled flights from Armenia to Oman, and went to booking.com to look for reasonable accommodation in Batoumi, a seaside resort place. I just want to spend some days on a beach before visiting the mountains. All of this is time consuming, not really interesting, but necessary. Sometimes it is just lovely to have these days of relative quiet! Gives the body a change to recover! There are many more churches to see here as well, but one can even get saturated with looking at churches.
Next town, Gori, the birth place of Stalin. Will be interesting to say the least!