|Mtskheta before the sun rise|
Buying the tickets was actually quite similar to an Abbott and Costello style “Who’s on First” comedy routine.
Me: “I need tickets for tonight at 12:30”
Booth lady: “12:30 is tomorrow”
Me: “Right, but I need them for tonight”
Booth lady: “Tonight meaning 8pm?”
Me: “No, tonight at 12:30”
Booth lady: “Tomorrow?”
Me: “Uh, technically, yes”
Booth lady: “You want to arrive in the morning or at night?”
Me: “Well, it will be morning, but it will be dark outside”
|Ready for sleep on the night train!|
|6am Georgian love for Stew's!|
|We got to see the sun rise over the Javari Church!|
|Us Samtredia girls at one of Mtskheta's most famous churches!|
|There were so many people celebrating Saint Nino's day! The Patriarch is just inside the church.|
|Enjoying some churchela!|
|Look at all the Georgian pride in this photo!|
Lots of festivities were going on in town. There was a wonderful international dance show, plenty of face painting and there were many hand-made crafts for sale. Not to mention food. (Though really when is there not food). In the late afternoon there was an even concert headlined by famous Georgian singers.
|Wonderful Georgian dancers!|
|Can't mess with Georgian men!|
|Adorable Azerbaijani dancers! I need one of those hats!|
|This drunk man wading in the water was more entertaining than the boy band on stage.|
|We found some new TLG participants! (Melissa literally walked up to that boy Shawn and asked, "Hi, are you with TLG?")|
|The Georgian symphony!|
|This is supposed to be a beautiful view of Mtskheta, but instead it's just a background of clouds.|
Our marshutka ride to Telavi was made complete with a crazy, drunken man who would not stop singing for thirty minutes and a driver who could not find his glasses. Not to mention, the mini-bus was full of heavy construction equipment. In every nook and cranny that could fit an eight foot metal pole of some sort, there would be one. The entire ride felt a bit like a ‘Final Destination’ film. No matter, somehow we made it in one piece to Telavi!
|We added a V to the sign ;)|
Our time in Telavi was really made special by our home-stay mom who fed us delicious homemade jam and crumpets and asked us to move in to her home. You know, the usual. We spent the night catching up with other TLG participants at a nearby home-stay and woke up excited to head off to Signaghi, the city of love!
Our home-stay mom called us a taxi and off we went. Our taxi driver, whose name was Mamuka, ended up being the most awesome taxi driver ever. He took us all over Signaghi, showing us every noteworthy church and watchtower there was to see, and telling me all about the history of the town.
|That's me sitting inside one of the watchtowers at Signaghi!|
|So hideous, right?|
|Rocking Svan hats!|
|Cheesin' with our Signaghi hats! (Don't worry, we didn't actually buy these).|
|Had to share this gem with the world!|
|The second longest wall in the world, after the Great Wall of China is in Signaghi and it was so cool to see this. It practically felt like we were in China, looking at the Great Wall itself!|
|I love the one yellow tree in this photo!|
We also went to a nearby monastery to see Saint Nino’s grave and attempt to bathe in holy water. While we did see Nino’s grave, the trek down to the holy water turned into a mere forty-five minute hike in the mud. The holy bathe turned out to be fully booked for the day. (It seems easier to get a table at Wolfgang Puck’s steakhouse than to wade in the holy bathhouse). And so, dirty and trembling, we hiked right back up to the top of the mountain we came down from before practically collapsing in a nun’s lap. I jokingly asked Mamuka if he would like to do the whole trek again and he could not have answered the Russian equivalent of, “absolutely not” any faster.
|At Saint Nino's grave in Bodbe|
|Our shoes after our hike in the mud. God bless my hiking boots.|
All the girls fell asleep as we drove back to Telavi, while Mamuka and I chatted about politics and religion. He asked me if I’d like to come to his home and pick grapes and it seemed like an offer I couldn’t refuse. So off we went, detouring to Mamuka’s house where I picked fifteen kilos worth of grapes. Think of all the potential pelamushi (grape and honey porridge)!
|Mamuka and I at his orchard!|
|Showing off the tastiest grapes ever!|
After spending the entire day with Mamuka (10am to 10pm) it was hard to say goodbye. Mamuka’s second child on the way though, and while we promised to come and see him when his baby is born, he promised to cook us a big meal of kosher shashliki (marinated beef).
Our long trip back to Samtredia seemed short as we all shared our favorite parts of the weekend and discussed what other places we want to travel to in Georgia. I can’t wait to see more of this country and am so glad I’ll have another nine months to explore it!