GEORGIA 1 Lonely Planet webpage with map

I see Lonely Planet have put Georgia in Europe now map lists 37 proper countries
Now in Georgia after 2 months in the Baltics.

- Tues - Stopped on in Kiev and Vladimar kindly met me at the airport


Wed arrived in Tbilisi

Youtube video of me arriving in Tbilisi

- Wed - OK CHECKED IN to Picnic Hostel right in the centre of Tbilisi ..it's just behind the tourist office and €7 Hostelworld showed 2 Hostel Georgia and Hostel Romantik at €6 (both same owner), but 1 is near rail station and other far out at Polytechnic. - OK here but the yard is being dug up for new water pipes etc. I tried for CS, but no luck.. hopefully I will meet some local CSers..and anyway they probably live far out ..so this hostel is a good location.
- all is calm after elections decided, but police stand every 500 along the roads

phone SIM doesn't work here //"Sorry, services are not available in this country."

when someone said they are arriving someone in this group suggested a taxi, but the train does run at 4am link 1 link 2

Thursday :

- The National Museum which incorporates the Museum of the Soviet Occupation .. it wasn't very good .. as it didn't really explain the history & culture of Georgia ..maybe due to real history having to conform to a particular political narrative. - Then out on the bus and walk up a big hill to the Open Air museum of georgian village houses : It was OK, but could do with a cash injection ... only about 8 houses were open. The anthropoligists kindly gave me coffee and cake. Then I walked upto the lake and thn down back into town.

- Then met up with 10 CSers mostly new arrived English teachers from the states for the daily free tour of the city

- Tomorrow (Friday) 6pm is the grand opening of the 5th Tbilisi Contempary Art Festival called Artisterium At the old Tbilisi History Museum, 8 Sioni St - Then there is 11 days of Art exhibitions, workshops & Art Events sponsored by the British Council & Instituit Francais etc. Schedule in English & Georgian

Friday : Went to Mtskheta the city which is the home of Christianity in Georgia

- Looks like most of town had had a makeover .. when I asked directions to the museum the tourist office didn't tell me it was closed for renovation. Then I walked through the abandoned park and up the hill to Jvari church a 4th century church on a hill over part of the original cross. The Lonely Planet said the path takes 1 hour ..it took me 30 mins then I found a path on the south side of the church going quickly to the highway so I could get a mashruta back to Tblisi. I think I should have been better planned and first taken a train 70Km to the underground city of Uplistsikhe .. then come back 40Km back to Mtskheta.

- As I was in Mtskheta I read in the guidebook about the birthplace of Stalin : the family home had been turned into a shrine. Then down the street I found a similar thing a modern communist shrine building enclosing an ancient family home, but this shrine has been completely smashed up in the same way that Dictatator of Albania's homes have been smashed up..so I guess PERHAPS this was the birthplace of some detested communist politician.. the tax office had been smashed up as well.

No, I was wrong ..it was actually an ancient gate that they found when they built the cinema ..so it was incorporated into the building .. still interesting

Jvari church .. is considered the founding church of christianity in Georgia in the 6th century


Sat - went to the Tbilisoba festival

- Cooked with petrol instead of oil - HPA say "Petrol is not particularly toxic and accidental poisoning is very rare"

Sat - went to the Tbilisoba festival in old town .. then up through the Botanical Gardens coming out at the business centre built by the Georgian-Russian multi-billionaire Boris Ivanishvili. The entrance was packed with about 25 TV camera crews .. I asked them what they were waiting for

- It's a False world Thu - I asked the anthropologists how many ethnic groups & languages there are in Georgia. "but there is only 1", they said ..someone told me they'd lose their job if they told the truth.
- Fri - when I told the hostel manager about the destroyed communist shrine - she tried to pass it off by saying it was only an old shop ..and she'd never noticed.
- Sat : At the Tbilisoba festival The folk dance was impressive, but as ever like most folk stuff it's not tradional at all but made up. [I used to work with the Georgian State Dance (the Dalek dance ladies) in 1990 .. So I know their traditional dance was mostly made up by the choreographers who founded the group]
- : All those TV cameras just waiting at the doorstep of Boris Ivanishvili ..is that supposed to be journalism ? There are lots of real issues and problems they could be investigating, but that would involve real real world, so I guess they think it's better to just wait days on his doorstep.. what does that achieve .. even if he said anything his PR dept would have put out a press release.

Sun - walking around

- got a sneak preview of the archaeology exhibition at the Zurab Nizharadze Gallery (he's Georgia's famous sculptor who designed the Tear of Grief 9/11 Memorial in NY)
- There a good film about the archaeology around Mtskheta.
- There are a lot of 3D photos of important finds .. look for the ones of skulls of a human & a sabre tooth tiger with were found together and date from 1.76 million years ago.
- There's a lot about jewelry design,
- The history part is better than the National Museum & the National Archaeology Museum is still closed for renovation. This exhibition is organised by the Tbilisi University Archaeology Department
- The translated title of the exhibition is : Ancient history in modern design (adornment and history and photo exhibition - Georgian National Treasure in 3D)
- It opens on Tuesday (and it seems to be free.. most of the rest of the gallery consists of Zurab Nizharadze own works which are pretty striking)
LOCATION : Nizharadze Gallery next to Opera house (27 Rustaveli Prospect known as a former building of the Cadet School)
- After the spell at the Nizharadze Gallery the exhibition will appear at other venues in Tbilsi

- YES You do find lost things : my excellent map of Georgia was still there outside the cafe 15 hours after I dropped it last night ..thank god I got it back .. it's always looking although that time in Estonia I didn't get my guidebook back.

- Mafia Street : I walked up the river a long way and then came to this 1Km street, sudenly I was in Denmark where the buildings are perfect. It was not like Georgia where the blocks are a bit rundown. - It was full of designer label shops. I guess Davit Aghmashenebeli Avenue is where the mafia families do their shopping. news story 1, news story 2

Mon

- Mon - CS Guitar man did a show at By Art-Cafe Amarcord at Art-Cafe Amarcord .. style like Avril Lavigne
- interesting thing is that these 2 are hitchhiking from Sweden to Japan [Dominic (NZ) & Matilda (Sweden)]
- but wow hitching very fast : 2 days from Tbilisi to Tblisi.. surely rushing from biggest city to biggest city is not enough to appreciate the culture ?
- Good to see other CSers there from Russia, Iran, Germany and the US, but no local CSers.

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