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Published: June 21st 2017
In some churches ladies have to wear a skirt
Though as you see they provide them in the latest style
Geo: 42.264, 42.7075
I have left this as being in Kutaisi to make sense of the map, though I'm really in Tbilisi again.
Back in Tbilisi for an evening and a day, chance to go to the traditional architecture museum and will fill an evening with the marionette theatre (subtitles in English) before heading off back up the military Highway and into Russia on Monday, assuming all goes to plan. My guide here has written out for me in Russian everything I need when I get to Vladikavkaz station, cancel one ticket I'm not using (Sochi to Rostov) and buy Vladikavkaz to Rostov and Rostov to Kiev.
So here I am about halfway through the trip, in time if not yet degrees of the circle. Done a lot of travelling as a car passenger in the last 12 days. Gregor in Armenia was a very slow and careful driver, rarely faster than 60kph, frustrating at times! But he had a lot to contend with in terms of dreadful road surfaces. Wherever a hole appeared workmen eventually turned up to make it a neat rectangle and deeper than before, and put tar round the edges, then left it to wait for the fillers-in
to appear, which looked like a long wait!
I already mentioned my driver here in Georgia, Mr Grumpy. He also had a lot to contend with, long distances - took nearly 4 hours to drive back to Tbilisi from Kutaisi today, and animals, cows in particular. They don't seem to be fenced in at all, and seem to prefer roads to fields. So they might be ambling three abreast down the side of the road, or standing in the middle of the road facing in all directions. A nightmare. There are also lots of dogs, some horses and, as you have seen, sheep - though they tend to travel in one direction in large numbers accompanied by fierce shepherds and even fiercer dogs, not cute collies like we have in England but large angry-looking Caucasian dogs.
So, he has lots to contend with, including every vehicle and pedestrian who clearly don't have his permission to be there, but he proved to have frustrating habits like coasting downhill and reaching speeds at which the bend at the bottom was uncomfortable and uncontrolled! Still, he did have some of his home made wine with him (better than Ethiopian!)
Amazingly small number of
English, for want of a better word, tourists here. Bumped into a couple today at the cathedral in Kutaisi, spending 16 days just in Georgia, with the same guide book as me but couldn't find the grave of King David the Builder who had the cathedral built (12th century or some such) so my guide told them where to go. But they are the only ones, though here in Tbilisi judging by the conversations round me I suspect forces ate already gathering in the area for the UEFA football!
Both Armenia and Georgia have been more sophisticated, more European, than I expected. In just about every way, food, hotels, roads, shops etc - the only issue has been not getting roaming data on my phone, hence the endless wifi hunt. They do have 3g but it doesn't seem to be available on foreign sims.
I haven't got to drink as much Georgian wine as I might, the driver providing it free, but the stuff I have had has been good.
Now Sunday, traditional architecture museum Interesting, old houses moved from all over country, and I walked back, long way, most of it with huge crowds going to anti government rally
(the one the fco website says to stay away from! Oh, I learnt yesterday my tour company here were very intrigued about my then intention of going to Abkhazia, word in the office was that I must be a spy, and they are quite relieved I am now going via military Highway!
OK, I'm going to find some more pics to upload, though it's a slow old business.
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