Thursday, October 21, 2010

Georgian cabs beat out Cash Cab any day

Every weekend since I was placed in Samtredia I have gone traveling, and this past weekend was no exception. I don't mean to leave my lovely Georgian town, but how can I pass up the opportunity to see another exciting part of Georgia with my friends? The Samtredia girls and I had a four day weekend due to the religious holiday on Thursday. When I asked my sister what the holiday was for she replied, "Religious, you know for the church. You understand?" "Sure, Nino" I replied. 

We decided to kick our weekend off right with the night train to Tbilisi. The night train consisted of the two little bunk beds in a little cubby style room. For 10 Laris it was pretty comfortable. Although once you lay down you do hear every bit of the train engine, and you are completely shaken awake every time the train stops. We had a really great train worker wake us up before our stop. At first we thought she said we had 5 minutes before our stop, making us all scramble like crazy people to put on our shoes and jackets on, but then it turned out we had a a few more minutes. Whew! 

We got off at about 6:30am right before Tbilis in a town called Mtskheta. On Thursday it was Mtskheta's 1,000th year anniversary so obviously we had to attend the party! Since it was 6:30am  the festivities were far from starting so we hung out at the train station and slowly walked into town. After about an hour or so of Melissa and I running around trying to find this mysterious home stay in the Lonely Planet guide (which we never found, and that book should be rewritten) we finally managed to find a home for the night. This wasn't without doing a lot of charades and hand motions by us and many Georgians, "Me minda (cue sleep action)." Thank goodness for kind and patient people. Then we layered up our clothes because our room was freezing and took a well needed nap!

The Mtskheta train station at 6am

Walking over the bridge to Mtskheta

Watching the sunrise over the Jvari Church

Once we awoke we were refreshed and ready to see all of Mtskheta. It was really beautiful to see the town come to life through out the day. First we went to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral where there were hundreds of Georgians waiting to go inside and pay their respects. After that we strolled around the town and enjoyed the Georgian dance troupes and live Georgian music. Seeing all the little girls dancing reminded me of my own dancing days and even brought some tears to my eyes! At night we experienced some beautiful (and very close) fireworks and the Georgian National Orchestra. 

The mass of people waiting to go inside the church

All Georgian Orthodox'ed' out

One of the many amazing dancing troupes!

Georgian sword dancing!

The next day we took a cab ride up to the Jvari Church and were literally among the clouds because it was so foggy! Later that day as we tried to hail a marshutka which we were unsuccessful at, but we happen to get the attention of a Georgian woman driving by. We hopped into her car after hearing her speak beautiful English and Kanye West blasting from her speakers, and off to Tbilisi we went! (Kids don't hitch hike alone or with creepy men!)

Foggy Jvari Church

Once arriving in Tbilisi we had a lot of trouble finding the right bus station to Telavi, our next destination. Our poor taxi driver literally took us to three bus stations all around Tbilisi until we found the right one! One bumpy ride to Telavi later, our marshutka driver to Telavi brought us to a home stay where we were greeted by a friendly Georgian woman and her cute red headed daughter. We thoroughly enjoyed their "heat room" which had a warm fire burning and oh yeah, a dead bear hanging on the wall. 

On Saturday our home stay mom arranged a taxi driver to take us to Signaghi. Signaghi is home to the second largest wall in the world (next to the Great Wall of China!). The architecture was very Italian-style. Our taxi driver, Mamuka, gave us a tour of the entire town! He brought us into several beautiful churches, and had us walk on the wall and explore several watch towers. Even better, I was able to meet up with a few friends from my orientation since they were touring around Signaghi too!

One of the many beautiful views from Signaghi

Me and Mamuka (he ran back to the cab just to get a knife for this picture!)

The 2nd longest wall in the world!!

Being all cute in the watchtower 

After seeing all of Signaghi, Mamuka took us to the Bodbe Convent which is dedicated to St. Nino and houses her grave. Michelle, Emily, Mamuka, and I thought it would be a good idea to walk down to the holy water, where as the story goes St. Nino was praying there, and all of a sudden water burst through the ground, making it a very holy place ever since. A very muddy 30 min hike down later we were only able to glance into the holy water tub since the list to go in was full for the day. Disappointed and already exhausted we made our way up the mountain this time. Needless to say we almost passed out once we made it to the top again. Forget PX90, just hike to St. Nino's holy water!

On the way back to Telavi Mamuka took us to his relatives' home where we were able to pick delicious grapes! He then took us to his favorite restaurant in Telavi. At first he said he would only drop us off because he thought him coming would be a bother, but we convinced him to come, how could we not? We said goodbye to Mamuka at 10pm that night. We had spent 12 hours with him! That poor man! I slipped him some extra laris because he was just so incredibly nice and promised we would come back to see his new baby that will be born this April! 

Picking some tasty grapes


  1. Awesome piece of article and the information with the photos made me to experience the journey, thanks a lot for sharing.
    Regards, cabs in hyderabad

  2. This is the one of the best and informatic blogspot i ever seen.thanks for such a nice and unique content with many tips , ideas and guide to other traveler.Thanks again. Cabs Service in Riverdale Georgia

  3. I have checked all your blog, Really you guys rocks.nice bunch of information and tips for users.i hope you will deliver same kind of good and quality blogs in future also.all the best for your blogging.Taxi Morrow Ga || Taxi Jonesboro Ga