Tag: KUtaisi

Kutaisi, Georgia

The trip to Kutaisi was made special because of the lovely Hungarian family I met. Bogi, who lives and works in Holland, spoke excellent English, and time flew by as we chatted away. Meeting new and interesting people is one of the highlights of travelling. Everybody has a story to tell and this fascinates me. So Hungary was put on my list of countries to visit in the future! We shared a taxi on arrival in Kutaisi. My guesthouse was near the fabulous Bagrati cathedral and I was welcomed with open arms. Giorgi lives in a house that is over a hundred years old. It is fascinating. Very high ceilings, an antique chandelier and a fabulous garden. Giorgi is one of the best hosts I have ever had. On arrival a cup of tea with a piece of home made cake and an invitation to meet the other guests later at night.

Niklas and Gesa, a couple from Germany and Jesper from Denmark were going on a day tour the next day to explore Prometheus cave and the two of the canyons. We all had breakfast together and left on our next adventure. The Prometheus cave was first. Twenty kilometres northwest of Kutaisi this 1.2 km- long cave is more beautiful and impressive than I have ever seen. It was only opened to tourists in 2011. Slippery, colourful and mightily impressive. The four of us stayed away from the main group of Russians and enjoyed the silence and impressive beauty by ourselves.

The next place was the main canyon. ( the name escapes me at this point in time)This has a boardwalk along the top of the cliff. I was fortunately not the only one who was shit scared of heights! Shared fear diminishes! We were thrilled to make it to the platform. Due to the heavy rains the boardwalk was not only very high and scary, to top it of it was incredibly slippery! (My fear of falling seems to have increased since my very nasty fall in Tanzania.) the view from the platform was stunningly beautiful. My legs were killing me, as there were a million steps going up. It was lunch time and a shared khinkali lunch in a local restaurant was delicious.

The next canyon was a bit of a rip off, I thought. As hundreds of boats went on a short boat ride on the canyon, the whole experience took a short time. Although the canyon was stunningly beautiful, the A$15 charged was over the top for what it was. The it was home time. We had an incredibly crazy driver, who attempted at every opportunity to kill us all. Speeding is the norm in every country I have been to so far, but cutting corners, over- taking in corners were you have no sight of the oncoming traffic, while speeding like mad, seems to me foolish indeed. Often the driver would be on the mobile as well! We made it back safely and Giorgi was waiting with supper as was his daily habit.

The next day, when I was supposed to do my washing, I caught up with Bogi. We visited the museum, had lunch and ended up doing “girly” stuff! In the most expensive salon in town! Bogi had hoped to get her hair cut but ended up with just a pedicure! I had my wild and woolly eye brows tamed. Mind you to be honest, I thought the price included a facial! No such luck, so I paid the same price as I would have at home!! This is what happens if English is barely spoken, and my Georgian has not as yet extended past three words!! Not to worry we felt terrific!

Georgians have always chosen beautiful locations for their churches and monasteries. Gelati is no different! Nine kilometres out of Kutaisi, on a hillside full of pine trees this complex was amazing. I was dropped of at the bottom of the hill and the hike up was steep and hard. Of course it was raining as well, but the pine fragrance and the silence made it all worth while. Gelati was founded in 1106 as a centre for Christian culture and Neoplatonist learning. According to written records of medieval times it was a second Jerusalem. Many of the Georgian rulers are buried here, including King David the Builder and Queen Tamar. It was burned down by the Ottoman Turks in 1510. Then restored by Bagrati III of Imereti. The communists closed it down in 1922, but the churches were reconsecrated in 1988 and president Saakashvilli was inaugurated here in 2004.

The interior of the main cathedral of the Virgin is amongst the brightest and most colourful in Georgia. The frescoes were painted between the 12th and 18th century. It has a painting of the emperor Constantine and his wife, Helena. There are many restorations going on, mainly on the roofs. There is a smaller church, the church of St Nicolas. I was conscious of the fact that a marshrutka would be going back to Kutaisi soon, or I would have to walk all the way down the hill again! Walking five to ten kilometres a day seems to be the norm, but when raining, not a pleasant activity! I was fortunate, the marshrutka was waiting, and would go past Motsameta.

Motsameta is a small monastery on a spectacular cliff top promontory above a bend of the Tskhaltsitela river. The river’s name means “red river” which derives from an 8th- century Arab massacre. Among the victims were the brothers David and Konstatin Mkheidze, Dukes of Argveti. Their bodies were thrown into the river, but the story goes that lions brought them up to the church where their bones were kept afterwards. If you crawl three times under the side altar where the bones are kept, your wish will be granted! ( information from the Lonely Planet) as there was a wedding ceremony going on I was unable to try this!

At Gelati, on the marshrutka, I met Filip and Ewaline from Poland. Two lovely young medical students, who were fun to be with! We spend the rest of the day together, visiting the markets, were a woman was chanting her Georgian chant, ” chacha, vodka, vino”! I turned this into a song, and before we knew what was happening we were chatting away to the women at the market, tasting their delicious homemade wine, feeling guilty, I bought a bottle, and so my year of no alcohol ended after six months!! Two new friends were made, and later that evening both young Polish people walked all the way up to the hill, where the Bagrati was lit up displaying all its glory! Filip and Ewa were introduced to my wonderful host, Giorgi, while I went to bed! What a country! What a magnificent country.

Kutaisi? No, Samtredia!

Dancing away early in the morning, I slammed my toe against the bed! Don’t ask!! I taught the whole neighbourhood how to swear like a real trooper. Boy, did that hurt! I still decided to walk to the bus station, bags and all. Telling myself that once I did this for sixty five days, so get on with it! I had expected a BIG bus, instead it was a marshrutka I told the driver three times, ” Kutaisi, this bus goes to Kutaisi?”Yeah, sure, it did!! Every stop I would ask, are we there yet? We stopped in Kutaisi, but I needed to be dropped off at the bus station, which is where I thought we would be going! Wrong!

I was dropped off on the highway, bags chucked out of the bus, lots of yelling and gestures to cross the road. Okay, something is obviously not right? Hm! Wonder what could be wrong? Duh, I was dropped off in Samtredia. Okay, now what? Three very stoned and drunk men, offering me a joint, when I told them I was totally allergic to the stuff, ( which they didn’t understand, but they got the drift I didn’t want any!) then I was offered a glass of whiskey, I don’t mind the occasional glass, after dinner, preferably with my father, but at eleven in the morning?? No thanks! There I was, sitting on the highway, sweating like a pig. The humidity is so incredibly high here, it was hard to think what to do next.

So “Romeo” offered me a lift back to Kutaisi. Except he wanted something else in return! I had to laugh, this young man was so stoned /drunk, as if I would even consider to get into a car with him! I did need to make up my mind, and I had to leave this situation as fast as possible. I was getting ill on the fumes! People who know me well, know that I get terribly ill, even on marijuana fumes, I don’t even have to smoke it myself! There was no English spoken, but the sign language is a “world wide” language! Finally I got the owner of the shop, to ring me a taxi. Since the dapper trio was going to Kutaisi, I decided to stay the night in Samtredia and consider what to do next.

According to maps me. there was one hotel in town. I decided to try my luck there. I won the lottery! The hotel was indeed the only on in town, plenty of rooms, hot, hot water, big room and a wonderful new late aircon! All that for twenty bucks. I asked what there was to see and do in Samtredia, not a lot! Since it was much too hot and humid I decided to have a nap and think of what to do next. Late afternoon I found a little church being restored, a mural and a train station. With google translator I managed to get a train ticket for the next evening to Batumi. It left at seven in the evening. Deep sigh, I had seen all the sights in the last half hour, I can do this!

Spend a wonderful cool night and morning in my super room. Updated my diary, started some drawings, worked on my blog, and the wonderful staff let me stay in the room till two in the afternoon. Only a few more hours to go. I found a lovely cool cafe, had a beer and spend the next hour or so playing games on my phone and ipad. Nobody spoke English! I had my first argument in Russian at the chemist. They doubled the price on the item I wanted to buy, indicating that it was an “old” price sticker on the item. Thanks but no thanks, I wasn’t born yesterday! Often prices get doubled for tourists. It wasn’t something I was in dire need for. I wanted to buy a nail file!! Yes, dear friends, a nail file!! Since I had my two teeth removed just before I left, I haven’t been able to bite my nails!! They do keep breaking though!

Anyway back to the hotel, cool lobby, comfy big armchair and wifi! Tourist heaven! The next thing there was this enormous Big Bang! No aircon, no wifi, the Big Bang was followed by many small bangs. The staff was hiding behind the desk, I sat in an overstuffed arm chair and figured that this was as safe as anywhere else! Police sirens! Me not understanding a word, whatsoever! I decided to stay where I was. In the end, an hour or so later, all was back to normal. There were some people working on a car(??) and they blew something up. Everybody was very exited as it was probably the best thing that had happened here in years! At six o clock I packed up my bags and walked to the station. The staff asked me to come back soon, but if the truth be known, I will never set foot in Samtredia again!

The train was punctual, comfortable and there were no problems until they came to check my ticket! It was for the night before!! So much for google translator telling them I wanted to leave the next day! Lucky for me I could buy another ticket on board of the train. The cost? One Lari! Which is not even fifty cents!! I met a lovely young man from South Korea, who spoke fabulous English and the time past very fast, discussing the world up football, travel and drone photography. We arrived in Batumi at ten o’clock in the evening. The lad needed wifi and I had picked a guest house near the station, which no longer existed! A wonderful hotel provided the young man with wifi and me with a gorgeous room for the night! Hello Batumi, can’t wait to explore here! Onto Chakvi soon where I have made a booking for five nights! Hoping for some rest and relaxation near a beach!

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