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Published: August 16th 2009
2 Pages of pictures again!
In 1878 Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili (იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი) was born in the Georgian town of Gori (გორი). He went from being a theological student to being Stalin, quite a turn around! Knowing there was a museum dedicated to his life, we decided Gori had to be on our itinerary for this trip and prayed that Russia decided not to do anything stupid around the anniversary of last year's war.
Our prayers were answered so we dragged our rucksacks up to Didude marshrutka station again and looked for buses to Gori. This time we were going somewhere we could pronounce so there was no need to have it written down in Georgian script. At the station we were offered a ride in a shared taxi for less than £2 each so we decided to go in relative comfort instead of on a crowded minibus. The road there is mostly motorway which passes extremely close to the South Ossetian border. We saw no Russian tanks though!
There's not a huge choice of accommodation in Gori
but wikitravel lists it all. We opted for the Hotel Victoria which was ok but they wouldn't come
down too much on price. It was comfortable but didn't include breakfast and cost 70 Lari in the end, about 20 more than we really wanted to pay. The weather wasn't too kind to us either. It rained heavily during the night and we were kept awake by the constant drumming on the air conditioning unit outside our window. Still, it was only for one night.
The main reason for visiting is to see the Stalin museum. We were not disappointed. The first place you are shown is the house where Stalin was (allegedly) born. It shows from what humble beginnings he came. Next you are shown his private railway carriage which was a little more interesting. Inside you can see the communications centre, kitchen, bedroom and meeting room. The guide spoke good English and was able to answer our questions.
After that you enter the main museum where you are free to wander around and browse the exhibits. There are more Stalin pictures than you could ever want to see and taking photos didn't even raise a murmur from the watching staff, let alone result in a trip to a gulag! It's a shame there was no
real information in English as that would have made it a very good exhibition. The small mausoleum room was a bit creepy though! And we loved the uniform the girl in the souvenir shop was wearing!!
We also tried to visit the "War Museum" but it was their day of remembrance for last year's war with Russia and they had a special display about that. Unfortunately we were there as lots of local people were involved in a special event and we couldn't go in. The long wall mural outside was interesting though, as shown on the panoramic image at the top of this blog entry.
Instead we climbed up to Gori fortress. It's a ruined old castle which gives great views over the town and towards the Russian border. We're sure the Georgian soldiers we saw were not really monitoring the front, but you never know! At the base of the fortress hill was a strange collection of sculptures, seemingly knights of the realm. They all seemed to have bits missing and this appeared to be by design. Weird!
Eating in Gori was a joy! We found the "Cake House" just opposite the War Museum. It
was dirt cheap and the portions were unbelievably big. Didn't stop us cleaning our plates though!! We can also recommend the Atrium
restaurant on Stalin Avenue. They have a menu in English and are really friendly. The khinghali are wonderful and the garlic chicken dish we shared had our mouths tingling with delight. No doubt the smell kept any waiting mosquitoes at bay too!!
Our plan the next morning was to go out to the nearby cave dwellings at Uplistsikhe. Unfortunately the weather wasn't good enough so we decided to head on out of town and continue our journey. Getting a bus to Kutaisi wasn't plain sailing and eventually a taxi took us to the motorway where he put us on a marshrutka to Batumi which dropped us off in Kutaisi en route. Scroll down for more photos!
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