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Marco? Polo!

GEORGIA | Tuesday, 1 June 2010 | Views [622]

Meandering on foot, the best way to travel I feel as everything just moves to damned fast otherwise, the battered asphalt road in Turkey is transformed to a bruised and beaten dirt road in Georgia. The Guard at passport control suggests "Now we take photo, for memories", and with such words resonating in my ears and his grin sealed to the inside of my brain-case, I enter a new world....

Facing the prospect of camping at the river by the border for the night, or walking a few hours in fading light to the first village, a Lada bearing three Georgians each built like the proverbial brick shithouse bumps to a sudden stop.  They give me a lift not to the village, but the next major town, whence they proceed to search for a suitable hotel, the bus for tomorrow, how much it should cost, a bank for extracting local currency, food, and et cetera. They stop short only at doing my laundry (which at this point i wouldn't wish upon my enemies, should i have them).  "Now we take photo, for memories" all starts to make sense, but little did I know this hospitality and friendliness would prove to be merely the tip of a gargantuan iceberg laden with delectable shaslyk, cheap beer and vodka-halos.

My first Marshrutka ride lands me in Tbilisi. The city is like a caricature from Soviet times, today playing its own game. With establishments boasting blurbs such as "Shop for firm wine factory", "Noble Things" and "Nothing is found only once in the world, there is repetition everywhere", the city has undefinable character and charm; imposing statues set amidst beautiful gardens, crumbling apartment blocks, historic churches and buildings, all give the city a quality that is hard to pinpoint.  With 1.3 million people living together in a complete absence of pretence, it's like walking though Berlin without a hangover....

....speaking of which, I inevitably find myself a foreign guest in the fabled Georgian Supra.  A feast that gives some insight to the physical proportions of Georgian men, it is fuelled with uncountable toasts to Grandparents, family, friends, loved ones lost in war, the barmaid/housekeeper, Georgia, the mountains, the guest, the barmaid, their homelands, the barmaid..... it is not for the small-bellied. After 4 litres of homemade wine, they start ordering wine from the bar, in 2 litre jugs.  Eventually, with most of the food eaten, the barstaff vacate the establishment leaving us to the music and dancing part of the night.

With no official acount of his travels, I can't be certain that this is the way Marco Polo enetered this portion of the world.  But if he didn't, he certainly missed out.

hugs and love from Georgia




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