First things first, if you stay in a guest house try to bargain for a breakfast or a dinner. Price and quality probably will be way better than in any restaurant around. Just try not to eat everything as it is a bad gesture because the host will think that he/she provided not enough. But don’t worry, it will be hard, as you’ll probably be served with more than you can eat anyway.
Don’t be surprised if you are going to be treated with a meal without a charge, Kartvelian people are notoriously famous for their hospitality. It is an honor to get a guest and treat him well. I wish more countries adapted that, though it could be easily seen as an economic waste in a more capitalistic society. Kartvelian hospitality is an old tradition and the is a saying that every guest is a gift from God. So basically, if you want to be treated with a heart, not with greed, Sakartvelio a.k.a. Georgia is a great country to visit.
It is very flexible with languages as well, as in most post-Soviet countries, older generations speak Russian and younger speaks English. Most of the businesses seem to be run by families so everywhere you go you’ll be able to connect one way or another.
Too bad, but the weather today is not as friendly as the locals. The rain is so heavy that even the lighting cut out the power. We couldn’t even leave the guesthouse in time and our host kindly tolerated that. But the rain didn’t stop, after some time we decided to move one way or another, the weather should be way nicer at the lower altitudes.
As expected, the host said her goodbyes with a kind smile, wishing us a good road ahead. One thing which left me baffling was her daughter. She was young, though not a child, I had a couple of words in English with her yesterday when we arrived, as she was the only person I could communicate with. She was standing in the house near a slightly open door, watching. When I looked straight at her, she closed the door a bit more but remained watching.
Confused as I thought this happens only in old movies, the situation got me thinking. People tend to take things for granted too fast, I was born in a more isolated country and only with time when we got into the European Union, we could move more freely around. There was always a myth of a local girl who wished for a foreigner to come and rescue her from her prison. Never expected to be in this position, got really confused, but things change very quickly these days. I wish Kartvelian people all the best, and I hope soon they will be able to move as freely as any European as their hearts should be welcomed anywhere.
The water was pouring out of the sky, it looked like the forecast was right and we descended down from the mountain just in time.
A good thing is that getting from Stepasminda to Tbilisi is half as cheap than vice versa, we paid only 80 GEL to a gentleman who seemed to be straight-forward at that time. Without any hesitation, we packed and rolled back to the Capital of Sakartvelo.
Since we were on vacation now, our first stop was at a narzan. I can’t find a lot of information on the Internet in the English language, but from what I was told about, it is a natural mineral water flowing from the Caucasus mountains. When you taste it, narzan feels like drinking Borjomi, but I if you just fill your water bottles with it, narzan will soon get worse and not as healthy.
The looks of it better to be described by photos, the only similar thing I’ve ever seen was a cut-down tree, still draining the water from the ground and spilling enriched version of it everywhere.
The next stop was at 12th-century Ananuri Castle complex near Aragvi river. In the middle of it, stands a church, which to me looks like a copy/paste version of any other I’ve seen in Sakartvelo. The good part in Georgia is that very religious object if free to enter for anyone. It is a general rule that access to the God should be available for everyone. The fortifications of Ananuri complex were really interesting, and opposite to the mainland Europe, you can climb anywhere. Of course, you have to be aware, because it is not very safe, but after climbing a mountain it seemed like a joke to us.
The best part of it was the view over the river. Marine waters shine in a valley between mountains like an oasis. I could spend countless hours making meditating with a panorama like this.
Also, you can find plenty of souvenirs in a parking near the castle complex. If you want to buy Chinese stuff, better do it in a bigger city, but the advantage of the places like this is that you can actually find something original from the region.
After buying some stuff we continued our journey, by this time I was already addicted to the cans of Borjomi. It is a good way to refresh yourself really fast, especially if you have a weak stomach which doesn’t like acid at all. Borjomi neutralizes that in no time and after tasting wine, you consume a lot of acids.
On our way, of course, we stopped near a random restaurant without being asked. We were told that everything is best here. We usually invite our driver to the table and let him pick anything he wants, but this time, a fifth plate was already served and when the food came he just sat down and ate what we ordered for us. Even worse, not like it is a big loss, but he stole one of the fruits we bought on Ananuri. Not like it really matters, but it is just bad manners. Another interesting thing was that he told me to close my pocket because my phone was visible. Throughout all the journey I had no problems walking with it in my hands. Poor lad probably grew up having a difficult life, hopefully, tides will turn better for him or his children.
When we came to the outskirts of Tbilisi, the driver refused to go further, he told that he’ll get us a taxi, but refused to go on for some extra money. The reason for that was that he is afraid of the traffic, maybe he could do another run that day, but we guessed that he is simply afraid of cops with his car.
After we changed cars we got brought to our hotel.. or so we thought. We were met by the host who gave another address to another of her apartment. The original place was in the heart of the city near the Liberty Square, but our new one was two metro stops away from it. We agreed to play by their rules and forgot everything when we saw the apartment. Apparently, though in a poor yard, the interior was brand new. We were only second guests from what I understood and to my surprise, the host even spoke some English.
After settling in, it was time for a dinner. We had a list of recommended restaurants, but due to the rain, decided to check the closest one. After walking and getting wet we ended-up finding out that it was full. Upset, we went to a nearby street which, as the driver said, is full of everything. And sure it was, waitress were greetings us on the street and inviting us in, but a general rule that those places are usually overpriced. Pushing everyone through we ended-up in a more remote taverna, where we had one of the best dinners in Georgia. After that, we simply went home to rest for tomorrow while drinking some beer and still telling the stories of our impressions from the expedition to Mount Kazbek.