Friday, May 11, 2018

Good Morning, Tblisi!

Statue of Giorgi Saakadze at Saakadze Square, just down the road from Ameri Plaza Hotel

Looks like a perfect day to go exploring (Where the hell is the exclamation mark on this keyboard?) And why on earth didn't I make the effort to learn a few basic words in Georgian -- like "thank you", "please", "where's the toilet" and "what on earth is this thing on my plate?"
Not to mention the weird alphabet:
I, who taught myself the Greek alphabet before our first trip to Greece nearly 30 years ago, and the Cyrillic before our first trip to Russia about 3 years ago. I stare at the signs all around me, but scrutinize them as I might, I still can't figure anything out. Cute, to a degree; and reminds me of Thai. I tried to make deductions from shop signs that had English right under the Georgian, and deduced -- rightly or wrongly -- that a certain complex squiggle like an over-ornate is pronounced like  the eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Fat lot of good that did me. [Later insight: I was wrong; that Georgian letter is an "l" equivalent, as in London, Lima, Lisbon, etc.]

Anyway, that was yesterday. Today (May 10, 2018) I'm a tad smarter, thanks to our guide, Mamuka. He and the driver, whose name* I failed to write down, arrived this A.M. in a shiny white Mercedes van, and off we went. Mamuka pointed out outstanding buildings, gorgeous statues,

at Narikala fortress
At Mtatsminda Bombora park
at Metekhi Church
one winding muddy-looking river, ancient walls and modernistic hotels. By now -- evening time -- I have done some 15,681 steps (says Fitbit), equaling nearly 10 km, indicating that a fair bit of said sightseeing was done on foot. Including uphill climbing and downhill cautious walking. What struck me is the huge variety of architectural styles. Some streets reminded me of Rome at its best, while others were reminiscent of Catania (Sicily) at its worst.

A few tips for future travelers:
-Weather is predictably unpredictable; prepare for showers and sun alike. The locals seem quite unimpressed by the rain, not bothering to take shelter or carry an umbrella.
- Yes, things are considerably cheaper than back home. I bought a tube of a certain Avene creme for half the price I paid in Tel Aviv and in Moscow.
- If you speak Russian - no worries, you'll manage. If you're not Mox, not an avid, or even amateur, linguist, don't bother trying to learn Georgian
- If you have a Georgian restaurant in town, try it out a couple of times, so as to know what to expect and how to eat Khinkali. Otherwise, you can always resort to the local McDonald's, Wendy's, Dunkin' Donuts, or any pizza place.
- I'm sure I'll have further tips by tomorrow or the day after. Right now I'm still an impressionable, naive tourist, who had better get her act together and her backpack packed before our guide comes a-calling.

- to be continued -

* Khvicha
Nina & Michael somewhere in Tblisi :-)

Mike & Mamuka in cable-car on way up to Narikala Fortress

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