"Wherever we had been in Russia, in Moscow, in the Ukraine, in Stalingrad, the magical name of Georgia came up constantly. People who had never been there, and who possibly never could go there, spoke of Georgia with a kind of longing and a great admiration. They spoke of Georgians as supermen, as great drinkers, great dancers, great musicians, great workers and lovers. And they spoke of the country in the Caucasus and around the Black Sea as a kind of second heaven. Indeed, we began to believe that most Russians hope that if they live very good and virtuous lives, they will go not to heaven, but to Georgia, when they die."
Kiev Borispol airport, connecting flight.
Purpur restaraunt, Tbilisi
It's midnight, our taxi is on the way from the airport, going about 180 km/h, zigzagging among the other cars. The local version of "Strangers in the night" plays so loud, it resounds from every surface of the car. The taxi-driver drives without the seat-belt, holding the steering wheel with one hand (with another he is fliping the ash off his cigarette into the window. On my request to drive a little slower he seems offended, remarking that we are going home and he has to return to his work. We enter Tbilisi, it's ancient streets, wooden houses, warm lights, the banks of Mtkvari River, the southern wind is mild and I got shivers down my spine.
Amo Rame cafe, Tbilisi
I'm a big fan of georgian cuisine, but we've also found some nice places with european food. like this one. The floral fabrics are popular.
Kiziki Galavani, Signahi (the restaurant had an incredible view on Alazany valley)
After some days in Tbilisi we rented a car with a driver and went to see the the monasteries and other sights of Kakheti.
On the picture: dinner with our marvelous driver Anry. Оnce while driving through the valley, he stopped the car by the lilac tree, went out, picked the bunches of flowers and presented one to each girl in the car.
Pesvebi, Borjomi, restaurant on the former train station
In Borjomi we've taken a 6 hours walk route in the mountain nature reserve: three hours of climbing the steep forest lacet - a narrow path, consisting of dirt and feces of big animals; then, as a reward one hour along the mountain ridge (the moment the thunder storm on both sides of it started, but luckily not above us), I have to admit, the view was fantastic. Afterwards 1,5 h. descending, wich I might compair to bobsleigh track. That moment the rain started. And one hour through the fields full of white little flowers and the blossoming trees in the pouring rain. So it was quiet a catharsis to reach the gates of the reserve, wich moment to our surprise was exatly 6 hours after we entered the entrance.
In the evening - the restaurant by the stadium, where all the things writen in the guide happen sequentially: first they put a song "for our guests in Saint-Petersburg" ("The city that doesn't exist" by Igor Korneliuk, sang by the dj) then people from the next table treat you wine and invite you to stay at their house, wine in 5 l. canisters all around, half naked men drink standing in bridge pose, everybodie's dancing, sounds of glass crashing and toasts-toasts-toasts.
Cafe Palaty, Kutaisi
For some reason in Kutaisi we are drinking champagne. The bearded men sings: "Fuck the russians, I'm for Ukraine" - the moment one wishes the ground would open under him. The german guy, siting next to me, taps me on the shoulder and gives me a bottle of "Absolut" saying "stogramm" (100 gm), I smell it, this is water. Everybodie's dancing again, the men give the girls posies from vases on the tables. The waitresses pick them up and put back on their places. My friend Rita, holding a big calla in her hand is surrounded by local men discussing the rights of georgian women, but the night ends with a long conversation to ukranian: about the Third World War, about how we'll meet each other and put the weapon down.
And then I went to Batumi, ate the first insipid khachapuri in cafe on embanlment and took a bus to Trabzon, Turkey, but that's another part of the story.