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Published: September 27th 2009
Bronze Statue of Young Man
Rub the feet for good luck!
Walt and I had a long journey (27 hr.) to get to Tbilisi. We had to wait 7 hr. in Istanbul for the daily flight (11:30 PM) to Tbilisi. Needless to say, we were pretty tired by the time we arrived. We were immediately impressed with the friendliness of the people and the beauty of the city. The terminal and subway station were brand new and modern in every way. The metro had not opened so we took a taxi to our hotel. The driver actually took us to the wrong hotel. He was ready to get our luggage out and leave. I refused to get out of the taxi. I couldn't see a sign for the hotel. We insisted that go inside to be sure that we were at the right place. He did and realized that the building was being renovated. We asked him to call to get directions. We had the street address and the phone number. He acted as though he didn't understand us. He finally did drive a few blocks, stopped at another hotel, went inside and got directions. When we reached our hotel, the gates were locked and everything looked dark. We hated
to wake everybody up by ringing the bell. So, we just sat outside for an hour and talked. We could hear some conversation in a nearby house. A family of four (completely dressed) came outside around 5 AM and offered to help us. They insisted that we ring the hotel bell. We did and the nice young clerk quickly got us into a room. He didn't even ask us to check in first. We are 8 hours ahead of Atlanta.
It surprised us how well lit the streets were in the middle of the night. On a hillside overlooking the city is a 610 ft. TV tower. This tower was covered with multicolored lights that had a streaming effect. It was very pretty. The largest church in Tbilisi, the Holy Saneba Cathedral sits on a hill near our hotel. You can see this church from almost any point in the city. I am including a photo of it. Some of the cobblestone streets are so narrow that they are only wide enough for one car.
Georgia has fought many wars - the last one was last year. Through history this land has been invaded by the Mongols, Persians, Turks, and
Russians. The 4 million citizens love their country, their unique language and culture. Many openly state their hate for Putin and Russia. They are proud of their independence and greet each other "Victory to You." Tbilisi gives you more of a Mediterranean feeling
than Soviet. It sits on the Black Sea with the Mtkvari River running through the city. Many of the Soviet style buildings have been torn down. Old churches are in the process of being renovated. The city is very tourist friendly. The pro-Western government makes it easy for U.S. citizens to visit - no Visas are required.
The temperature is cool - probably high 50's to low 60's. We left the hotel around noon and walked through the Old Town. I saw a child rubbing the feet of a bronze sculpture of a young man. The legendl is that this will bring good luck. This statue is a copy of one that was discovered in the 7th century BC in W. Georgia.
We met a young couple from Spain this morning at our hotel. Their new baby had just been delivered to them by its surrogate mother, a lady from California. Last night at the airport, we
This woman ranted and raved about Stalin and Putin. I understood almost nothing that she said. I just nodded and agreed with her.
visited with a 31 year old guy from Tbilisi. He works for the charity that aids children in about 30 different countries. He shared with me some of his school experiences under Soviet rule. Students had to sit at parade rest (hands behind their backs) during class lectures. Discussions were discouraged. He said that he often studied at home and skipped school. We also met a man from Arkansas who works for a mining company in GA. He had on a Razorback cap and I asked him about it. I told him that many of my friends were at that moment pulling for Alabama against Arkansas. He laughed and we enjoyed his perspective of Georgia.
One different thing about the airports in Europe is that they will not allow you to enter your airport terminal gate until 30 minutes prior to leaving. As soon as the majority of the passengers have gone through security, they load the plane. I have had to remove my money belt in both Germany and Turkey. I have never had to do that in the U.S. The special passport holder that I had sewn into my travel pants could not be removed. The security agent
Children in the church courtyard were playing a game. They kept blowing a whistle.
put her hands inside each of the 3 pockets on the holder. In Germany, she also did a manual search of my body.
Tomorrow, we hope to go to Sighnaghi, a town several hours from Tbilisi.
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