House that needs a little DIY to fix it up
This morning was a later start then planned. Rob slept through everything as usual, but I had trouble sleeping. He was up and went down for breakfast. He didn’t give it rave reviews, but it kept him from being grumpy. He reported that there are quite a few American youth in the hotel. I knew this already because they were what kept me awake. We noticed form our window we had a view of a building that was collapsing. To our great surprise there was a woman in the sturdier half cleaning windows and apparently living there. She did have pride in what little she has.
After our morning showers, it was time to head out and find me food. After consulting with the hotel about where to find the Dry Bridge Market we were off.
This lead us to Pushkinis qucha with the hope of finding food along the way. Since Rob had already eaten he was content to wonder along and snap pictures. I on the other hand wanted food and insisted. Rob then got motivated and found a restaurant in the guide. Unfortunately it was not there. We ended up eating at The Hanger which is across from Anchiskhati Basilica, the oldest surviving church in Tbilisi dating from the 6th century. The waitresses at the restaurant were fantastic and very helpful. They gave us some tips and directions. Unfortunately their command of the English language gave us a false sense of security which will be detailed in later parts of the day. The food was also very good.
Street in front of hotel
Once we finished we went over to the Basilica to see what it had to offer.
On the way in were accosted by a gypsy girl asking us to help her and give her money in wonderful English. My response was, why don’t you give me some money. She quickly went away. We tried to enter the church, but had on shorts. Our plan is to go inside all of the churches on the same day so we only have to ware pants once. It is really hot today.
House built on old city walls on Pushkinis qucha
Next we continued our journey towards the Dry Bridge Market. We found the area but it was across the street and above us on a bridge. Getting across required us crossing six lanes of traffic which was coming heavy from both directions, but other people were doing it, so we did it. Once across the street we were in the market. The first vendor we spoke with was Maya a lovely women selling hand-made Georgian hats, bags, and other small crafts.
We tried on a few and both ended up buying a hat. They will definitely cause stir back home. We had already noticed it, but it was now apparent that we were being stared at a lot by people walking by. And that continued to be the case for the rest of the day like were celebrities. Maybe it is because Rob is blonde and I am pasty white and hairy. Or maybe it was the Tevases which also got lots of looks. I just stared back…..I’m that way, ya know!
Statue with a little flair on Pushkinins qucha
Continuing on along the street front there was an amazing array of art on display. Paint fumes were in the air. There were many beautiful pieces that were pulling me to them. There was one awesome piece that was the artists interpretation of the city in a very narrow but five feet tall painting. If I could have gotten it home…..but, bus to Yerevan then 2 planes home….
.not this time. I am very picky and I has constantly taken with many different artist’s pieces. It was like being in an open air art gallery. As we wondered through the market , we saw many interesting things and piles of yard sale like junk. Although, a stuffed baby bear, various animal horns, old phones, machetes, saddles, ornate stirrups, empty picture frames, reproduction Soviet belts and so much more made it interesting. We found some stamps and coins for Rob’s Dad. Finally we moved back to the arts and crafts section where we bought a whimsical interpretation of the city’s landscape. It’s an interesting perspective. Rob swore it would fit in the Suitcase to get it home and I trusted him. I also found a cute leather cuff with a templar cross and Kartuli script. I have no idea what it says. I might be identifying my self as a terrorist…..we do have an upcoming trip to Syria!?? With purchases in hand it was time to head back to the hotel for a drop off stop. Along the way we stopped into an antique carpet and Kilim shop.
Looking down Pushkinis qucha at Tsminda Sameba Cathedral
The sales people presented some wonderful options. I am considering one that is a traditional style. Most of what they had that was Georgian was more updated. I preferred the simplicity of the folksy style. We will think over the purchase so we snapped a pic of our favorite and were on our way.
Islamic influence on breezy balcony
Back at the hotel we were able to ask for a fan for our room since is hot today, if I haven’t already mentioned it, it is hot. I knew from my weather.com update before we left that it would be quite warm but, this was more than expected! We then headed out for another meal. Since I was only having veggies and no real protein I was hungry more often. We headed to a place near the hotel called Shemoikhede Genatsvale. I was thrilled to find multiple options. I decided on an egg plant dish and cucumber and tomato salad. Rob wanted to try the curd dumpling with cheese and a veal dish.
He also ordered lemonade, or so he thought. When it came to the table it had an interesting taste, which turned out to be tarragon. When he poured it into a glass it was neon green. He didn’t finish drinking it, which is very unlike my big ole camel of a husband. After we ate the tasty meal we went to a shop so Rob could get a Coke. The lady behind the counter didn’t have enough change so she gave Rob a stick of gum to complete the change.
From there we wanted to go up to the TV Tower. We had to go through Freedom Square. In the middle is a gorgeous golden statue of St George slaying the dragon. There were also lots of metal frames with plastic over them.
At first we thought it was a set-up for a festival or market because they had cell and a number and then script written on them. On closer inspection, it appeared they had people living in them. We initially considered it could be for displaced people, but why here. It turns out these are people protesting to have the president resign. The shelters extended down the main street of Rustaveli Ave. It was a little unsettling.
Door detail of Anchiskhati Basilica
Even though Rob is allergic to dogs and cats he is sucker for them. There was a cute little stray puppy frolicking at the base of the column. Rob was snapping shots and tried to play tug of war with the puppy. The puppy ended up rolling over and wanting to be petted.
Rob used his empty soda bottle since he couldn’t touch him because he had no way to wash his hands. He was really disturbed to see that the puppy had ticks around its eyes and in its ears. But we had already noticed quite a few stray dogs and cats throughout the city.
Delicate lattice work
Continuing on down Rustaveli Ave we passed through the protestors’ shelters which increased in numbers and different sections had different flags. We then came upon a stage and what looked to be the beginning of a gathering in front of the Parliament building. We were a little uncomfortable so we snapped a few quick shots and we headed on. At one point we came upon two shelters that had disturbing pictures of the incidents in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. They were really heart wrenching photos.
Rob noticed in two different pictures the bodies being shown were the exact same people, but in different locations. After this, it was on to the intended destination.
Carving of the city
The idea was to take the funicular to the church half way up and then continue on. Rob took us down the wrong street and we ended up walking all the way to the church. The hill was very steep and winding, what a work great glute workout. As I had just done a heavy leg workout on Thursday, I was dying. There was a service being held at the church so we wandered in the graveyard for a few minutes. They had some fantastic grave markers. Waiting in the graveyard were the alter boys and some other people and a monk. I was amazed at the number of them. Form here we thought we could catch the funicular and go to the top.
After another glute working climb we got to the midway point. The stupid thing was closed!! That meant we had to hike back down the hill. I was not amused, but the view was fantastic and well worth the hike. After some overlooking shots it was back down.
Statue of St George in Tavisuplebis moedani (Freedom Square)
Once we made it to the bottom it was on to the Rose Revolution Square. We stopped into a souvenir shop and found some great gifts for family and friends. The lady helping us let me go behind the counter to make it easier. When we were ready, she used an abacus to add up the totals for our purchases. Anyone ever use one as a kid…….I did! Once we reached the square we decided it was time to eat again and wanted to head towards the hotel as it was getting late. Our first choice was the Lonely Planet guide’s choice restaurant.
We headed to it, which required we cross the six lane road again. Once we were safely across we headed to the “Old House” restaurant. We were seated and give a single menu with English. I was very limited on choice and inquired what corn porridge was. The waiter looked at me and said it is corn porridge. I explained that I am a vegetarian and do not eat any meat or things with meat stock. I tried to ask it the base of the soup was a meat stock. He politely said it was corn porridge and was recommended with chicken or cheese. Another person tried to help and Rob attempted to ask the question in different ways, we finally gave up and moved on to another restaurant.
Dancing Statues along Pushkinis qucha
At the next restaurant, I was also limited in choice, but had some options.
We were happy that we both had English menus to read. There was a soup to consider…but they were out of it. There was a salad that was “Assort of greens”. I tried to ask what was in the assortment was made up of. The conversation when something like this.
Celebration in bronze
Man: It is an assort.
Rob asked “which greens are in the assort”.
Man: It is an assort.
Me: but what is in the assort?
Man: It is an assort.
Rob: What kind of greens?
Me: Does it have broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce?
Man: It is an assort.
Details of dancing statues
Me: He doesn’t understand this Rob.
Rob, pointing at menu: does it have cucumber?
Man: You want cucumber and tomato, good.
Brian: No what is in the assort of greens?
2nd man enters who seems to know more English: Can I help?
Rob to 2nd Man: He is a vegetarian (pointing to me). We want to know what is in the Assort of greens.
2nd Man speaks Georgian to 1st Man
2nd Man to Rob: It is an assort of greens.
Rob: Does it have cucumber.
Ball of flowers
2nd Man: Yes cucumber and potato. You want the cucumber and tomato salad.
Rob lays his head on the table in frustration.
Me: What is in the Vegetable tart?
2nd Man: it is vegetable.
Rob: But what vegetable?
Brian: I just try it.
Man: We don’t have the tart.
Rob: OK, we’re out of here.
On to the next restaurant, the Colosseo.
It seemed to be larger. We asked if we could see an English menu. A nice lady seated us outside on the balcony and told us as she did that she didn’t speak English, but understood it. We did have English menus though. We also tried to use the Lonely Planet guide, but it had no list of veggies and no phrase for “I am a vegetarian.” I decide on a cucumber and tomato salad and mushroom soup. The waitress came and could speak NO English! None! Luckily a young lady at the next table could speak English and helped us out because she could tell I was about to jump off the balcony and take the waitress with me. With food and drinks ordered we felt a little more at ease. The clouds had been moving in and the heavens unleashed a Dutch rainstorm upon us. It was like buckets being dumped. The table of guys next to us moved inside and we decided to do the same.
Column in front of State Chancellery
Inside there was a teenage party going on with a live singer. She had a great voice, but the sound system was turned up about 6 notches to high.
Details on Column in front of State Chancellery
A waiter came over and said something and we could hear a word. In between songs he came over again and tried to take our order. Rob tried to explain that we had already ordered, but he did not understand. Where was the singer drowning out the sound when you need her? Another girl came over and Rob managed to make them understand we had ordered from a waitress. We still didn’t have drink yet and it had been at least 15 minutes since we ordered. The girl went off after the waitress. She came back to tell us they had no orange juice, but they had apple juice.
I agreed to that and she came back with the drinks while Rob was in the restroom. I tried to explain we wanted a large water and she didn’t understand. When Rob came back somehow he made her understand and to being a second small bottle because they didn’t have large ones. They’re really killing me! I was beginning I would need a airlift of food sent in to just make it through the journey.
Georgian lettering on Column in front of State Chancellery
That settled, the singer was back at it and the teens were dancing. They were quite the crew and mixed the traditional ethnic styles with more modern moves. They were very enthusiastic and went from partner to partner. We enjoyed the show and it was wonderful to see the traditional infused into the modern. Rob just had to snap a few pictures and took a video too. The food came and I was a little concerned that the soup had chicken stock as the base.
Rob tasted it and agreed. He was able to flag down the girl who helped us and took her outside to talk because the singer was performing and the teens dancing. When he came back he said they swore the base was water. He had to do an impression of a chicken to get them to understand what he meant. He said the girl pointed to the huge puddles of water form the rain that was still pouring down and said that is what we use. Ahhhh…….the joys of traveling to far away lands!? I took the leap of faith and ate the soup. It was OK and very watery, but flavorful. Rob enjoyed his, but did not recognize what they called Caesar salad as that. We finished dinner and headed back to the hotel.
Script on column
Rob left me with the room to zone out and headed out to get some bottled water and a few other things so I could have more protein.
He ended up at the same little shop from earlier. To get them to understand no fat he lifted his shirt some grabbed his stomach and said no and point to it. It worked and he got the milk. In the end the lady didn’t have enough small change, again. She gave Rob a 10 cent discount. Back in the room we reviewed the day and wrote this blog. It was a much later night than intended. God give me the ability to expect a better day tomorrow.
Looking down on Mamadaviti Church (St David Church) from the funicular