The kids in the hall managed to annoy me and disturb my sleep again by being very loud very, very early in the hall. The fact I had ear plugs in did nothing to help. Luckily they checked out today. Rob got up and went for breakfast by himself as I refused to get out of bed because we stayed up very late again. Rob has hope that we will be in bed early tonight. Breakfast was about the same as yesterday. They had boiled potatoes (they really love to boil things here), sausages (basically mini hotdogs), cherries, and dry bread. Rob ate enough to get him by. The girl at the front desk came back and told Rob that they were switching us to another larger room with AC in 15 minutes. He came and got me up and we packed, kind of, to move.
After showers and a quick check of email we headed out for brunch.
I had some stuff in the room like yogurt and a banana, but was hungry. We decide dot go the easy route and went back to The Hanger Bar. I love it because they speak English well, they are nice, and they have things he wants to eat. A deity came in for a snack so we were reassure it was a good place. After a nice breakfast and mini Georgian language lesson from the waitress, we went back to the Anchiskhati Basilica to get photos of the interior. It was fascinating because it is so old, but it is need of some serious TLC. One amazing thing is that all of the icons were being touched and kissed, even if not covered by glass. While wonderful to see it is disturbing from a preservation standpoint.
Our next destination was the Tsminda Samebea Cathedral high on Elia Hill behind the Presidential Palace.
It is the symbol of the post Soviet religious revival and was consecrated in 2004. It is a spectacular complex. It is very new, bright, and modern structure rising like a beacon of hope from the poverty laden area around. Although new it is designed in a classic Orthodox architectural style. I feel it is a melding of elements of a Christian Cathedral with Islamic influence. It is very similar to the Cathedral in Vilnius, Lithuania but very different. Both have peaked roofs rather than domed ones which is unusual.
Interior of Anchiskhati Basilica
To get to the Cathedral we had to once again cross multiple lanes of traffic and started the trek up yet another hill.
Along the way people were asking for money (a word they know well), staring once again, and a couple even appeared to have laughed in our faces. This is all wearing on me.....seriously. An interesting thing we noticed both days is that men were gathering in groups and talking. Many women were selling things on the street. It appears that the women work more and the men supervise. The sense of community and comradery is good and some groups were playing games like backgammon. I noticed that many people were just sitting in their cars and the lots of the people on the benches were sitting expressionless.
Move to the left a little
Once we got inside the Cathedral we were struck by the starkness of it. It seems unfinished or a blank canvas waiting for some great artist.
There were lots of people there and at some of the icons there was a queue to be able to touch and kiss them. In a way it really seems unfinished. It is devoid of details. It has many icons hanging around the walls but not much else. The interior of the domes had holes like something should be hanging there, but they are blank. The most popular icon was in a mini bejeweled golden canopy (see the pictures because it is hard to describe). favorite of mine was an icon whose surround was made of mother of pearl. It was in the natural color but, also a green color was used. The artist had fashioned Georgian crosses in the design.....magnificent.
House on a hill
After this we finished inside it back down through the poverty and dilapidating buildings. It is astonishing that people are living here and it is so close to the Presidential Palace that is currently being enlarged.
This time we used the urine scented pedestrian underpass to get across the river. It was creepy and I questioned whether or not this was a safe passage.....but, I am here to tell about it. We ventured back in the protestor filled Rustaveli Ave to find a restaurant listed in the guide and check on the times for a gym the hotel recommended. The restaurant was closed and the space is now a computer shop. We decided on another option and went in search of the gym. Rob had the address and name written in the local language on a piece of paper and showed to a couple of different people. They kept pointing us up the street. We were getting a little nervous and seriously doubting it was there because it was a residential area (I described it as “the hood” or the beginning of a horror film or a great location for one at least) and it seemed like we were half way up the hill from yesterday. We decided to turn around and head back down to eat.
Spires Old Town Tbilisi
We chose the Near Opera Café. It was decent food and Brian had multiple choices. They also were able to show us on the map where the street for they gym was, no where close to where we were looking. A mental note was made to avoid directions given by the girls at the hotel. Our bellies full were just whipped and decided to head to the hotel. It was also starting to rain.
Cross on top of a church
Along the way we stopped into a couple of shops and picked up postcards (which are not everywhere like in many cities). Once back at the hotel the girl told Rob very proudly that they now had wireless in all the rooms. Rob foolishly believed her. He fired up the computer and tried my luck, NOTHING! He went downstairs and tried and there it was with a weak signal.
She then told him, well maybe it is not all the rooms. RobI tried to connect using the password she gave me. The network wanted a network key and not a password. Try explaining that one to someone who barely speaks English and understand less. In the end I wrote this in word to paste into TravBuddy.
Decorative relief on Sameba Cathedral
Tonight at 10:00 we are meeting a potential guide for a trip to Davit Gareja. He is a friend of the girl from the hotel. We want to check out his English skills and knowledge before we commit, otherwise we are going to just spin the wheel of fate and try public transport and a taxi.
Later, the guy was an hour late, but we are set to go tomorrow.
He did call to say he would be late so it helped. We had a great conversation with a professor form Ohio and his Russian friend. Cool to meet new people, so much for early to bed.