Oh, oh, What Did I Do Today??
Trip Start Sep 18, 2013
31Trip End Oct 19, 2013
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I just looked at our trip notes and saw that not everything is written down about what we were seeing today so somehow I will have to find out - as well as what town we visited the first day out from Tbilisi.
We left our family guest house this morning at the usual time - 8 am. Since I woke up about 15 minutes early and had a head start, I was able to grab my camera and look for some persimmon trees. There were bunches of them in the neighborhood but, between the lighting and various obstructions, I was not happy with any of the photos. So, as the day went on, I was still on a quest for persimmon photos.
Nick had briefed us that it would be a morning of churches. Now I realize I don't know what churches that would be
I do remember our second visit but I don't think I have the full name - Gelati Academy was the educational part of this monastery complex. Nick told us about King David the Builder. He took over the kingdom from his father, who wasn't able to manage it at that time because of the hostile forces against Georgia. David was only 15 years old. He had a regent and began to put reforms into effect gradually. There were 4 reforms that Nick mentioned - one was to get rid of the old corrupt clergy and reinstate the king as the ruler of Georgia. Another was getting another Caucasian tribe to come to Georgia and contribute a soldier. Out of this, he got 50,000 additional solders. He also consolidated East and West Georgia - but I am not sure if that was one of the 4 reforms. The last was to found two academies - one in the East and one in the West. We visited Gelati Academy, the one in the West, here on a hilltop with a few other churches, a bell tower, and some other buildings. We saw the site of his tomb - which is very long because he was a very tall man
The church was quite ornate and had beautiful frescoes and a very high dome. There was light streaming in through the high dome windows that created a very spiritual effect. There was a service in progress - today is Sunday - with singing and a priest giving a sermon. People walk in and out and kiss various icons and light candles, cross themselves. It is informal in a way but also strict in that women have to have head covering and a skirt or long tunic. I videoed some of the service so I could get the audio part but I am not sure if the people stopped singing when I started.
We did a lot of backtracking today. We backtracked to Gori from these churches to go to the national park and then we backtracked back to Gorii for lunch. So the trip to the national park was south of Gori I think. This was an extra trip gifted to us by Visit Georgia - Nick's tour company. Here we got to walk through the Colchic Forest - endemic to this part of Georgia
Back to Gori, we had over 1 1/2 hours for lunch and exploration. Emma and I went to the bazaar - market. I got to ogle some stacks of fruit and vegetables and then we went to look for some nut crackers but didn't manage to find anything. We may have run into some of the others - or not - in any case, we decided to go get lunch at the recommended Art Cafe
After leaving the highway and more populated areas, we had a 3 1/2 hour ride to our ski resort hotel through wonderful mountain terrain . At one point, Nick said we could stop to take photos of the graffiti at an old Soviet factory that was going to be demolished. Trish had seen it on the way in and requested the stop. A few of us die-hards hopped off the bus and walked until we could actually see something - not so much graffiti as mosaics or some very colorful representation of workers. Nick cautioned us to be very, very careful crossing the street - Georgian drivers apparently do not try to avoid hitting pedestrians (or maybe they try to hit them) - but we had a casualty. Brian's hand was cut by a passing vehicle. The old Soviet factory buildings with their broken windows and otherwise rundown look were quite striking against the blue sky with gathering storm clouds. Hope the pics turn out OK.
Once we were out of town and ascending into the mountains, we following the Mtkvari. River as it ran through very deep v-cut valleys. At first the trees were mostly deciduous with some nice bright yellow ones now and then
I forgot to mention that Nick talked about education today. There was some history. Then he talked about the current education system. Kindergarten is private - about 1000 lari per year for public - 20 lari per month. (This is what I wrote but it doesn't make any sense now.) School from 6 years old for 12 years is free but there are also private schools available. The education is the same quality but there are more extras in private schools, like swimming pools and psychologists. Then comes university after students take their exams. If they do well in the exams, they can get 100 per cent of the cost of university but if they do less well, the government contribution lessens. University is 4 years with 2 more years for masters degrees.
We arrived at our hotel and, as Nick said, it is a very good one. Very nice accommodation with heat, towel warmers, kettle, refrigerator, rain forest shower and good food. They even had pickles. I tried the Georgian white wine today since I finally finished my pomegranate wine from Armenia yesterday
Emma and I are now in our room. Emma has washed her whole wardrobe and it is hanging in the shower. I started today's blog while she was showering and laundering and now it is my turn. I will have to find a place for my laundry. Maybe I will put it on the lampshades as I threatened. Emma is very sweet and considerate so I really don't mind her doing her laundry every now and then.
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