Today was Georgiaâ€™s Independence Day. Due to current political problems, the government agreed to not have a celebration if the political parties took a day off from protesting. Over breakfast we were able to ask Jerry and Olga about the flags we had seen on the demonstrators huts. It turns out we were right in our assumption that they represent different political parties. The huts that have â€śCell XXXâ€ť on them represent prison cells that the protestors believe they have been placed in from a judicial and freedom of press standpoint by the President. There are numerous political parties here. Mostly they are formed around individuals with specific ideas and come and go quickly. None of them are well organized. They fall into two main groups though, political and human rights issue vs.
social issues. The President is mainly support by the social groups because of all he has done to improve the basic living. He is very popular in the rural areas that require more basic support.
Rob was able to try the honey he had purchased at Davit Garedja. It was WONDERFUL and he just kept eating it. After breakfast we headed out to spend time in the part of old town we had missed up to this point. There was a carpet and Kilim shop I really wanted to go into. These shops are so accommodating to show you as many items as you want to see, of course they will because they want to sell you something. We focused on the Kilims. They had many old ones.
I sweat they must have added dust to them to make them more authentic or rustic. Every one they pulled down spread dust. Robâ€™s allergies had been acting up some on the trip and now they were in full force. When he sneezes it is LOUD!!! He can scare small children and animals. By the time we had looked at a few rugs I am sure every stray dog and cat had fled the neighborhood in fear of itâ€™s life. We saw some fabulous items old and not so old. Some were very damaged, but they could repair them with time and for a price. We also looked at sumees which are different from Kilims because they are embroidered. I found a killim that I was quite taken with from the Kaheti region. It had interesting geometric shapes and vibrant colors. In the end there were two we considered but walked out without purchasing.
Sweet old couple
From there we talked to a small park beside a Sioni Cathedral.
There were many people and they all seem to be carrying, buying, or wearing fresh flowers. I assume that it had something to do with the special day. Some kids and teens were having flowers painted on their faces. We continue on the Bambis rigi and Shardenis qucha that has been renovated and quite nice with cafes flowing out into the walkway, art, and souvenir shops. We ended up at the Gorgasalis moedani which is just a large interchange where there seems to be no logic or rules to driving through it. We cross the river to go up to the Metekhi Church perched high above the river. In the courtyard looking out over Tbilisi and waving â€śHi Honeyâ€ť to Mother Georgia is a massive statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali. The site is where he built his castle and the original church.
Buildign with old town charm
As we passed over the Metekhi Bridge we noticed a cute little chapel down next the river.
We did a slight detour to check it out. Inside was a beautiful mosaic with gold tiles. Moving on to the courtyard of the church we noticed a couple of young sheep tied up. Based on some of the conversations we had had I donâ€™t think they were there as pets and did not have a long expectancy. We were able to get some really good views of the city and Europe Square. Inside the Cathedral was pretty bland and unadorned. By this time both us of has to urinate so badly our eyes were floating and turning yellow. I could barely walk I had go so bad. So we took desperate and unholy measures. We went back down toward the river chapel and found a small hidden spot between the gift shop (which was closed) and the rocky hill to find salvation. One of us watched for the other as we consecrated the soil in our own way.
After this we headed back to drop off some stuff at the hotel and have lunch.
KGB is still watching you restaurant
After lunch we headed up to the fortress. To get there was a little tricky. First we had to find the road and fill out a waiver for our insurance company releasing them form paying out any claim for death or dismemberment from visiting this site. We had to take a huge leap of faith that the road we found lead to the fortress. It looked like an old unused country road that was just now being paved, with brick. We noticed other people headed up, even an old hunchbacked woman and her grandson, so we followed. The incline started out as a love and relaxing 45 degree angle covered in rough stones. From there it got better as they were terracing it to be a nice 30 degree incline.
But there was at least a walk way on one side with holes for future guardrails. As climbed the view kept getting better reveling more and more of the valley between the mountains and the different part of Tbilisi. In the distance we could see the communist block housing far removed from the old town on a distant hill.
Chapel below St Nikolok Church
Once at the top we saw the remains of a once might palace inside the fortress walls and the church that was rebuilt in the 1990â€™s. Moving to the back side we had a great view of the back side of the fortress walls. I noticed some people of top what had been an upper section of a tower and I was going to get up there!!! We started to work our way around and up.
Rob kept saying this place would never be allowed to open to the public in the US. It was basically just old ruins with no real steps or guardrails or safety measures. We were climbing up rough and jagged hills to get to places with significant sheer drops. IT WAS FANTASTIC!!!! To get to one place we found what had been a staircase at one time but was now a crumbling death ladder with barely any run or rise, yet about 100 feet of height. Once we got up there the view was so worth the effort. IT was beginning to sprinkle the rain so we headed back down.
Shoppers on the Bambis Rigi
As we were exiting the fortress a guy said â€śHelloâ€ť to us with a big smile and asked us where we were from and began to guess states at random once we told him America.
He was very friendly and told us he was of Armenian decent but born in Georgia. He asked if we like to take pictures and pointed out a hotel down by the river with a nice terrace on top. He said had done marketing for them and offered to take us up on the roof to see a different view of the church and fortress. We told him we were leaving the next day and really couldnâ€™t make it. Rob said his girlfriend was looking bored and he should get back to her. We left not really sure if this was the famous Georgian hospitality and friendliness or just some guy trying to pull something.
Mosaic details on the Orbeliani baths
At this point it was starting to get dark so we headed to the hotel and called it a day. We popped in a DVD and just relaxed some.