Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Crazy Georgian Adventure Part One

Of Castles, Helicopters and the KGB in Georgia

Introduction

No job. No money. Time in Europe winding down. Traveling prospects for the summer quickly turning into dreams and less reality. Things were not looking so bright for my travel junkie soul. So I was near off my rocker when my lova, completely immersed in his media company came to me and said, “How about we forget the roadtrip to Montenegro and all the crazy trips you wanted to plan. I have too much work to do.” A nail in the coffin to my bloggin/traveling dreams, I thought. But then he continued with words sent by the gods. “And instead we leave in two days for our birthdays (they're 3 days apart) to Georgia." He had already gotten the tickets and hey guess what, “on our lay over flight back, we’re stopping by Egypt for four days.” My mouth once hanging open ready to argue now gaped in shock. I’m not a religious Cylon, but hell it felt like the Red Sea had been parted for me (okay maybe not), but the answers to my hopes and wishes had come true. Best b-day present ever?





Part One: Tbilisi


My first stamp. The adventure begins with us almost late for the plane, running with our suitcases and finally deciding we're too late for the metro and take a deep wallet blow and get in a goddamn taxi. Shit..but at least we're on our way to Georgia. I'm on to my second passport and frackin' excited to add to my lone stamp of France and fill this baby up with memories!



Touchdown in Tbilisi! It's 5 am local time. After traveling and living in huts where lizards the size of your arm crawled through the numerous cracks, I cannot deny that this was hella exciting to be staying in the Marriott for a change. Not to get into boring deets, but my lova's family was there on business, so we got to travel in style and not like poverty case I usually am.  I must say it was a pretty new experience for me, a little bit like Aladdin turned Prince Ali?
















 I'm excited to explore the city. We only have one day though so we were assigned our personal guide, Ika. We do a mad dash of tourism, crazily trying to see a whole city in a couple hours before a special dinner that evening. We get some food at this cool ass Soviet themed resto on the main strip.


  Chkhmeruli Chicken: among many things that we ate here. Food in Georgia is very heavy and is made with lots of sauces. Call it a brown person bias, but what the hell is the deal with not serving rice with all this meat? Came with a side of veggies (sometimes) and..more meat. I thought I loved all food but maybe this old dog of 23 has learned all her tricks cuz I can't deal without some grain up in her'.














The best part of Tbilisi was stumbling across this amazing photo exhibit. The top one says something to the effect "Mothers of Georgia, stop sending our sons to war". The famous photographer, Yuri Mechitov, documented the last 30 years of Georgian history through his photos. They were all black and white and told beautiful and tragic stories.


To our great luck, the man was there and he took us on a personal tour of his work.  See more of the pictures on the Facebook fanpage.

Truly one of my fav' parts of the city. Traveling should be about what you experience and how you feel even if it is only one thing you see. It shouldn't be a race to see the most tourist attractions in an hour..which apparently was the goal. Soon after we moved on to the top of the city and to visit Stalin's mother's grave. Did you know he was Georgian?

She is buried amongst the greatest minds of Georgian history. It was contemplated to remove her grave because she has no reason to be up there, but they figured why not leave an old grave. I mean her greatest sin was only to create a monster.

After some more frantic running around our time was up and it was time to make our way to a dinner at Chateau Mukrani, 40 minutes outside the city. It is a wine factory.
It was being completely renovated. There was a ginormous dinner next to huge and looming wine cellars. I'm not going to lie it was pretty damn awesome and a great opportunity for my International Relations grad self to network. (Picture Below: the place had been bombed in a civil war. Of course we had to go explore the ruins!)


The EU commissioner was there, ambassadors, bank owners. All getting ridiculously tipsy (and maybe even wasted) off of the amazing Georgian wine we had, they were all so pleasant and fun and I had the chance to sit next to them :). Discussions ranged from Simone de Beauvoir, to German men to IDP's in Georgia... really friggin' lucky experience.

My amour and I tried to sneak off and have a little silly time alone around the castle and the estate...but unfortunately everywhere we went some weird guys in sunglasses would follow us. Cock blocks.
 I was starting to get a little salty about being followed and accompanied around everywhere. My idea of romantic getaway adventure to this beautiful country on our birthday weekend was fading away and I didn't get why. Disturbed by this, I expressed my concerns to boyfriend. He told me of the plan in the next coming days and it significantly eased my mind.


AIR FORCE ONE. It only involved taking a HELICOPTER to the President of Georgia's summer estate and visiting the villages and having our personal romantic beach day in the Black Sea (or so I thought). Reassured for the time being of our personal adventures and f**ing excited to meet Saakishvili's wife, we climbed aboard with the First Lady and their kids to head to the next chapter of our trip.

The youngest son, little Nikolai. Only four years old. He is soooo cute.


Where we went and what we did while chillin' with the First Lady is in the next post.

Part Two to My Crazy Georgian Adventure, here!

2 comments:

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