MVW Travels: Day 18, Gori to Tbilisi

Dateline: Gori, Georgia—17 Mar. 2017

(Another day-late post, as I was too tired to write last night.)

I didn’t do my usual night before travel packing since I wasn’t taking scheduled transit to Tbilisi. So I planned on a lazy morning and it worked out perfectly.

My hosts brought down breakfast and we planned for Ilya to take me to the bus station around 11 a.m. After eating, I took my time packing and made sure my iPad was charged up. Then I waited. I was way ahead of my “schedule.”

A few minutes before 11 a.m., Ilya showed up and we went to the bus station. It wasn’t so much much a station as you might think of one. Mostly it was a parking lot with a mish-mash of taxis, minibuses, and cars waiting for fares.

On the ride over I found out that the minibus cost 4 GEL, while a shared taxi was 5 GEL. I opted to spend the extra as it would get me to Tbilisi faster and I hadn’t ridden in one yet.

The villages outside of Gori, as seen from the expressway.
The villages outside of Gori, as seen from the expressway.
Not far from where I was dropped off, a driver was hustling fares to fill his car. We confirmed the price and destination and I loaded myself into the back seat of a station wagon. One more rider piled in and we were off.

The driver stopped for fuel and to pick up another passenger. Since I was in the back, I didn’t have to squeeze over to make room as the two in the middle row did. I’m still not sure how they organize these rides, but so far it’s worked out for me.

The expressway is much faster than the milk-run road the minibus from Kutaisi took to Poti. Overall it was a smooth ride, and we only hit real traffic when we came into Tbilisi. Then it became much more of a bumper car style ride. After a couple of passengers were dropped off along the way, my ride ended at a metro station.

The driver pointed in the direction of the metro entrance and I paid my 5 GEL. I walked a ways and found myself at a “T” where the street ended. A helpful policeman pointed me to the metro entrance. We had to step into the middle of the street to see around all of the minibuses and street vendors. The tunnel towards the station had the usual amount of crowds I had to fight my way through. It wasn’t as busy as the Station Square stop at rush hour, and I was adding money to my metro card after a few minutes.

I made a guess that I still had one Lari on the card and only added one more. The turnstile beeped green confirming that I guessed correctly. I also wasn’t sure which station I was at, but it was an above ground stop. I remembered there were two of those, and guessed again that I was north of where I needed to be.

The southbound train was the right choice and a few stops later I exited into old town Tbilisi.

The escalator out of the metro, heading up to street level.
The escalator out of the metro, heading up to street level.
From the map I just needed to go a bit northeast and turn right. But when I exited the station, I wasn’t sure which way was northeast. But I could go uphill without crossing the street. Every other place I’ve stayed at involved some sort of uphill walk. I figured why break with tradition now.

After about a long block of walking, I saw a sign on a cross street. It was the one I was looking for. A right turn and a few blocks later I found the address of the guest house I was looking for. I must be getting a feel for navigating Tbilisi, or I was extremely lucky. But the odds are against such a series of blind guesses working out. So maybe I’ve learned a thing or two.

The guesthouse is a multi-room affair and I was shown my “economy single.” I don’t care what they call it. It was as close to a dream room as I could hope for to end my stay in Georgia.

It’s just big enough for a twin bed and a small desk. In one corner there’s a narrow chest of draws with a 14″ black and white TV on top. And I have my own heater. The room is the perfect size for the heater to keep it nice and toasty. I’m guessing the reason for the heater is that one of my walls is the exterior of the house. So the lack of insulation will let the chill through rather quickly. Once the sun started to set, I found a nice temperature setting and left it that way.

The host also was nice enough to find some hydrogen peroxide and iodine so that I could clean up and re-bandage my toe. Once that was taken care of, I set out to do some exploring.

I picked this location so that I’d be close to the Dry Bridge area. The Dry Bridge is famous for it’s large street market of vendors selling everything from Turkish swords to Soviet gas masks and everything in between.

I browsed for a bit, but decided that most everything there was too bulky to fit in my pack. Also, I really didn’t need the old camera that had KGB markings on it. But I looked at it longer than I should’ve. I think the best and most useful thing to bring home will be a few books. On Sunday, I’ll go back and see what I can find in Russian. There were quite few book vendors on Freedom Square I’ll have to recheck too.

On the way back I ducked into a market and got something for dinner and the most exciting even of the rest of the night was getting my laundry washed. The host’s mother insisted on doing the wash for me. Maybe she was being polite, or maybe she didn’t want me breaking the washer. Either way, the wash got done and once it was hung on the drying rack, I went to bed.

What’s next?

Just a lazy day in Tbilisi. I don’t have much in the way of plans.


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