After it seems like, walking on foot through the whole city of Tbilisi and seeing all the tourist attractions and not-tourist attractions, I decided to do my first journey to Akhalzikhe. I was wondering how easy it is to travel within Georgia. You just have to go to a Mashrutka Station (Mashrutkas are vans used for public transport) and even if you don’t know where and when the Mashrutka starts, you will probably find one which goes in less than ten minutes. In Germany, at least you need a pack of paper and documents to travel to the next city.
So, now, I don’t really want to talk about the way the Georgian people drive… But I arrived alive in Akhalzikhe. A Georgian told me: “The only thing which I didn’t understand in Germany was that people honk at you when you overtake them on the right lane”. During the journey, I had many beautiful views. I was happy to see the town of Borjomi. Here are some healing springs, surrounded by beautiful wooded mountains. Maybe, the first time you taste it, you will be shocked by the taste – which is closer to the taste of swallowing sea water while swimming than mineral water. But I promise you, in the end, it is better than lemonade. And it can help you survive the hot sun. I thought it would be colder there, but you have the same desert feeling here as in Tbilisi at the beginning of June. I had the idea that this city could also be a small town in Germany, according to some a bit stuffy and very clean streets and their buildings.
I visited the Rabati Castle which was built in the 9th century. It is pretty interesting because it has orthodox churches, one synagogue and one mosque inside. The original name was Lomisa, which means Lion. I recommend you, if you want to visit it, to go there at night because it is very beautifully illuminated and all the tourists have already gone to bed. In the afternoon I saw a children’s dance competition for Georgian dance there. It was pretty interesting. The people really seem to love their culture here. From the nearby hills, I noticed the snowy peaks of the mountains in the distance. I often tried to walk towards them, but every time it started to rain. And be aware of the rain in Georgia, because the drops are so large that you will become completely wet after some seconds. Back at my hotel, I ate a delicious Georgian soup, which name I forgot, unfortunately. And of course some Khinkali – these traditional very big dumplings stuffed with meat and broth, which the owner of the hotel gave me for free. I met some cows and street dogs, which are very friendly but have sad eyes. Sometimes, they follow you for a while or ask very self-effacing for food, but most of the time, you can see them lying on the street, sleeping, maybe dreaming a dog dream of dog days. An old lady tried to talk to me, but she was a bit disappointed in the end because my Georgian was maybe as bad as her German. But don’t be surprised: a lot of old people can speak German very well, mostly better than English. Three old men were playing backgammon in the shadow of a mulberry tree. When I came back after seven hours, they were still sitting there and playing. And on the next day, there were 6 men sitting now, playing backgammon…
Time seems to run slower here.