Day 4, 5, and back.
Night train back from Yerevan to Tbilisi. A long night spent drinking vodka, pomegranate wine, and eating cheese, so we had to start our #4 day with some rest. Then John decided that we should visit Mtskheta…
According to the info I found on the map, Mtskheta it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been inhabited since 1,000 BC and it’s just at 20 km away from Tbilisi.
In Mtskheta, we visited The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, walked around the area for a bit, and then took a cab for 7 km, up on the hills, to see Jvari (Mtskheta Cross Monastery).
The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral had an interesting story. A guide told us the same story a couple of times. I know she wanted just to be sure that we get it right, but I still managed to forget it. (I hope John has a better memory.) If not, then we spent 20 lari for nothing. It had something to do with a cedar tree, that was used for seven pillars while the seventh was magical. (If you want to know the whole thing here’s a Wikipedia link.)
After visiting the cathedral we had lunch. Initially, we tried a restaurant not very far from the cathedral. Their menu was alright, but I wonder how on earth they had almost nothing of what we wanted to order. I was lucky, they had the matsoni soup, but when John decided to order the same thing (after a failed attempt of ordering something else) they explained to us that they had only one left. 4 out of 5 things we asked for from the menu were not available, and I didn’t want to be the one to have the last drop of that matsoni soup. Mmmkay…next.
The view from the hills, even with all those clouds around was impressive. The way the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers are joining, dividing the land into 3 different parts, pointy hills on the left, Mtskheta on the right, and Jvari hill… that’s one beautiful view.
Facts: Jvari Monastery also called Mtskheta Cross Monastery built at the end of 6th century, considered to be a masterpiece of Georgian religious architecture, and I think that my best picture I took of it was this. With a “souvenir car”, and the monastery in the background.
By the time we head back to the hostel, it was already dark outside, so we continued the with some beers and meeting new people.
After a good rest, we started the following day with the Dry Bridge market. I wanted something different to remind me of Tbilisi so I asked the hostel manager if knows a place where I could buy some collectible stamps from. I and John have different interests, so here we had to split ways for a couple of hours. With plenty of time to spare and some negotiating skills I don’t have, I managed to buy a whole stamp album for 50 lari, which is around 25 dollars.
Dry Bridge Market
To wrap things up, there was still one building, a piece of contemporary architecture, that captured my attention from day one. The Public Service Hall.
The sun was setting, but there was still some time to walk around, so we went to visit the big church with the golden roof, we saw from the Botanical Garden hill, on our first day. The Holy Trinity Cathedral, also known as Sameba. From far it doesn’t look that big, but when you got closer you realize its impressive size. Fact? It’s one of the largest religious buildings in the world (3rd tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral so far, but we may have in Bucharest a competitor growing up quite fast in The House of Parliament backyard).
I must admit. I am not a religious person. Not at all. Even though I like architecture, and sometimes I am surprised by the magnitude of some religious buildings, they’re just architecture to me. So, instead of ending this article with some big churches, I will change the topic and write a short list of bars/pubs:
- Canudos Ethnic Bar
- Awesome people, cool music, and cheap beer, and the Mexican potatoes go along so well with that. This place I loved the most, but you should definitely visit the others as well
- Generator 9.8
- The Nali Pub
Next time I will be in Tbilisi, I will definitely check them again.
The next day, before it started snowing, I said goodbye to John, took the 37 bus to the airport, and returned to Romania.
To be continued…Soon I will travel to Chisinau for a marathon. Quite excited about that.