MVW Travels: Day 09, Exploring Kutaisi
Dateline: Kutaisi, Georgia—08 Mar. 2017
Feet be damned, I was going to get out and about today. Because there's no point in traveling halfway around the world to sit inside.
I did spend the morning looking over the city map to get a good idea of where I could go, and what was in walking range. Kutaisi isn't a large town, but on foot it feels bigger than it is.
The first part of my route took me past yesterday's pharmacies. But a majority of my travels were around the central city. I managed to find a massive open air market quite by accident, along with what might be the tallest set of stairs I've ever climbed. What was at the top was worth journey.
The Bagrati Cathedral
This old church has seen it's share of the history of Georgia. It was built in the twelfth century and then destroyed in one of the many wars the area has seen. It's been mostly restored, and is in surprisingly good shape for its history.
It sits on a hill overlooking the entire city. Getting to it on foot means climbing that hill. The surrounding area has filled in with housing and looks like the rest of the town, but at a 30 degree slant.
From the park in the center of Kutaisi's downtown, just look up, it's the blue roof way up on the hill. To get there, walk north and cross the chain bridge (named for the massive iron chains that at one time held it up) and then dogleg left around a hotel, and up the stairs. The stairs are cut stone and about as even as any other pavement in Georgia. Their one saving grace is that about every dozen steps is a landing that breaks up the climb. About halfway up a set of benches to provide a resting spot.
Once at the top, it lets out into an alley that soon joins into the main road leading up to the cathedral. This is where that 30 degree slant comes into play. Walking up this part might actually be more tiring than the stairs. A little below the main buildings is a parking area. The marshrutkas drop off their passengers here, but not on any schedule.
A short walk up the rest of the road brought me to the gate. Two elderly women were camped out panhandling the tourists. I imagine they walk up there every day. I gave each a 20 tetri coin, figuring they earned it just by being there.
I circled the building, taking photos as I went. Looking out over the city was spectacular. The day was clear as the wind doesn't let much haze accumulate.
The inside is filled with icons, and part of the floor is covered in glass to protect the ancient tile work that has been excavated.
The walk down was much less taxing and once across the chain bridge, I was back in the heart of the city.
Where the good stuff is
On the map it's just listed as "Village Market." In reality it's a crowded old-style bazaar that has most anything for sale. It looks like it's roughly divided into sections. On the edges are clothes,shoes and hardware, the meats are grouped together and the center is full of raw produce and spices.
It's loud and confusing and I enjoyed every bit of walking the aisles. An American farmers' market might as well be a supermarket compared to this. It would be shut down in a heartbeat by the building code police. I even saw a cat or two hunting for their dinner behind the backs of the vendors.
After seeing the sights, I took an aisle I hadn't been down to work my way to the exit. And I found the cheese section. With a few hand signals, I got a taste off of a couple.of blocks. Then I bought 1.83 GEL worth of it to use on my omelettes. This is the same white salty cheese I had at Nana's place my first morning in Georgia. Now I know where to get it by the kilo.
I kept my camera in the bag, as I was busy exploring. But I'll get back there at least one more time for some photos.
Cheese in hand, I hotfooted it back to the house to get out of the wind.
I was able to handle the walking better today. The last bit of the walk up to the cathedral was the worst because of the incline. Once I was there and on (mostly) level ground I was able to recover for the walk home.
The most important change I noticed was that once back at the house and out of my boots, there was no pain as I walked around on the hardwood floors. Yesterday before the bandages and kill-it-all cream even walking in my stocking feet hurt. I like this much better.
I don't plan on so much walking tomorrow as I'm going to try out the minibuses.
I plan to keep up the sightseeing with a visit to the Parliament building and I might even get out of the city to see a famous monastery nearby.
Use the MVW Travel tag to see all the posts in this series.