The day probably got off to a questionable start the night before, when Nikoloz suggested we get a later start in the morning. In retrospect, that probably should have clued us in to the fact that we weren't going to get to see everything we had planned on, but part of the reason to hire a guide in the first place is to let someone else do most of the thinking and planning.
The first thing we planned to see on the tour that morning was the open air ethnographic museum in Tbilisi. But...it turned out to be a holiday in Georgia, so it was closed. Again, we hired a guide in part to let someone else do most of the thinking and planning....
After that, we took a walk around Turtle Lake in Tbilisi, which was pleasant, but perhaps not a top must-see with limited time.
|On the trail around the lake, we found this advertisement for ajari khachapuri, one of Scott's favorite Georgian foods. It's a bread with cheese and an egg in the center, and you mix the egg with the cheese before eating it.|
It was clear that most of the Tbilisi old city portion of the tour was falling by the wayside, but we insisted on taking the cable cars to see the Narikala fortress, which is something very worth seeing. Nikoloz, meanwhile, was flipping out because so much of the day had passed and he was still supposed to take us to Mtskheta.
|Picture taken from below.|
|Picture taken from cable car.|
|And a view from the top!|
|Mother Georgia in the trees|
|Another view of Narikala fortress|
|A drone shattering the tranquility of the day. I've seen videos of animals trying to knock these things out of the sky, and I think I understand why now.|
Mtskheta was almost magical looking, especially with the clouds and the mist rolling in. Mtskheta on its own made up for the somewhat slapstick nature of the tour up until that point. I wish we could have spent closer to a whole day there. Maybe on a future trip to Georgia!
We visited the Jvari monastery first, and saw amazing views of the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, as well as the monastery itself. While we were inside the monastery, someone's phone rang, and the ringtone was the theme music for Mad Men. I was simultaneously entertained to hear the theme music to an arguably rather irreligious show in such a context, and relieved that someone besides me was probably committing the worst faux pas at that moment.
Then it was on to the town itself, where we saw the Svetitskhoveli cathedral. I think we all could have happily wandered longer if it hadn't been relatively late in the day and if we hadn't been hungry.
|Looking up at Jvari monastery from below.|
After a very tasty dinner, we rode back to our hotel in Tbilisi--women in Lado's car, and men in Nikoloz's car. When we arrived, the guys were already there, and one of our traveling companions was throwing up on the side of the road. The last we saw of Nikoloz that evening was him dashing across the street, pretending not to see. So, if anyone wants to visit Georgia, I have plenty of recommendations of foods to eat and sites to see, and one recommendation of a place not to say and a guide to not tour with.
Fortunately, our friend felt well enough to do some site seeing the next day. Also, that evening, Scott surprised me with an early birthday cake! It was possibly the tallest birthday cake I've ever seen, and was delicious. I only regret not having time to eat more of it before we had to return to Kazakhstan.