Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Georgian Vacation Round 2: Day 1 or "Unexpected Stopover" Part 1/2

My sister, Gohar and I decided we would head to the Georgian beaches together while my sister was in Armenia visiting, with Gohar and I being Georgian beach experts as of last year.

Our original plan was to take an overnight bus to Kobuleti, but since my sister had never seen Tbilisi, we decided to take a morning mashootka there, and on the way there, decided to stay overnight, and head to Kobuleti the following morning instead of the same day. Our driver was a slick and good-looking Georgian man who spoke fluent Armenian. The view during the ride was great and our driver seemed to have perfectly timed the pee stops so we were happy:
After our third pee!
When we arrive at the mashootka stop, since we decided to stay overnight, we try to connect to the internet to find some cheap hostel options and are doing a very bad job at this. A man across us asks me what my tattoo means and Gohar translated it into Russian for him. He and his two friends look confused but the older woman beside them nods her head and imitates a bull with her hands and I feel like she really gets it. We choose an option and take a cab, and the driver asks us if we like to drink of course. No sir.

We get to the hostel and arrange for the same taxi to take us to the mashootka stop early the next morning so we can have an almost full day by the sea. We decide to walk around Tiflis a bit, and I remember how bad-ass Mayr Vrasdan (Mother Georgia statue) is and what a cool city it is, and am glad we made the little stopover. I have usually been there only in winter so it is completely different in the summer. Tiflis has things in the middle of the city I would need to travel 1-2 hours in Yerevan to see. Waterfalls, mountains you can hike, monasteries on top of hills, etc.
We decide we should find the damn Parajanov statue I have never found any other time I was in Tiflis. Everyone we ask about directions gives us completely incorrect ones but with such confidence. It takes us a while to find ol Parajanov and on the way we keep making nerdy jokes about being "Parajanov's Angels" and at some point I feel like I am the only who still thinks it's funny but cannot stop making jokes about it. I had taken my sister to the the Parajanov museum in Yerevan, which is one of the few museums I actually enjoy, so the 3 of us were pretty committed to finding the statue. We did, but with no help from the overly-confident nonsense-direction givers. One of them, who also was wrong about where it was, said he liked Armenians a lot. Sweet, now just learn to say "I don't know" when you don't know where something is, son.
From the museum
Gohar's job in Parajanov's Angels is to take the photos
We decide to have coffee and an apple dessert thing filled with almonds for some energy before exploring any more. I feel like the coffee is a bit bad-ass for me, but Laura and Gohar will suffer more than I. My sister soon tells me she feels like I am an annoying student because the hyper-ness kicked in and I kept asking questions and answering them myself because allotting 0.001 seconds for someone to answer was just not fast enough. This is why I don't do drugs, kids.
Coffee was a mistake. This was not.
When we left we saw many signs advertising "pkhali" which is the best greens dish ever. I discovered it in a Georgian restaurant in Yerevan and am pretty much obsessed with it. It includes beet greens, spinach, walnuts, spices and dried pomegranates. There was however a pkhali "situation" in Kobuleti, but I'll get to that later.
What it looks like in Yerevan sans blurriness
We walk to a near-by market and see all the Georgian soujoukhs hanging (walnuts covered in fruit preserve) and I of course finally get to be pretentious about something Georgians do not do better than Armenians when it comes to food. Georgians win with every dish possible because they are the masters of spices. But I have never had a Georgian soujoukh I liked. Any time I have bought any, they were very dry and the preserve was not tasty, and apparently that's the way they are supposed to be. Armenians: 1.
Not even slightly tempted
We bought some figs and nectarines, the latter of which were heaven on earth. It wasn't the right time for figs so we knew we were taking a risk. The man who sold them to us asked me what my background was and I said Armenian, and then he asked where I was from and I said Canada and he was shocked which made me feel exotic. While we walked away we heard Armenian and a man came running towards us - the fruit vendor had told him there were Armenians around and he was Armenian so he gave us his number, told us he drives a taxi and told us if we need anything to call him. We realized we were standing right in front of the Armenian church that was being destroyed several years ago and he told us he was part of the movement to stop it and showed us where he used to come to protest. He called a woman across the street whose name was Lena and it became photo time:
This will not rotate no matter what
Right before going back to the hostel, we walked around another area that resembled the park near Opera in Yerevan. Someone told us there was political art up and to check it out since it was the last day it would be there. Good timing:
Putin being a charageegee
When we got back to the hostel, Gohar decided it was nap-time, and my sister and I decided to go up the hike to the fortress/castle Narikala, in the middle of the city of course. We stopped by the beautiful waterfall in the city first, and we saw bats which are even cuter up close, but squeak way too much not to be creepy:

Next up: the HIKE, meeting more Armenians INCOGNITO & the cool Georgian musicians

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