TWENTY-SIXTH MOVEMENT: GEORGIA
. . . we boarded the Aegean Airlines operated Airbus 320-200 scheduled to depart Athens International Airport at 00:35 and scheduled to land in Tbilisi at 05:20 (almost a three hour flight). After finding my seat on the nearly empty aircraft, I relaxed, the plane took off, and I started to doze off. However, I awoke just as the food was being passed out and I had a meal of pasta and cheese baked on top, bread and butter, cheese and crackers, and a snack of sesame seeds and honey in the form of a very slim bar. I also had more Greek red wine from the island of Crete, as well as some coffee. After 05:00, the plane began its descent and landed at Tbilisi International Airport around 05:30. I then passed through Immigration and Passport Control, was stamped in to Georgia, and then walked to the baggage claim to grab my backpack. When the checked baggage finally came around, I was surprised to find the contents inside completely rearranged and stuffed in a disorderly fashion. So, the Israelis decided to give me one final “fuck you” for visiting their country in the form of pulling out and searching every single item in my luggage, and then throwing it all back in there without regard to order. *sigh* Israel can be a beautiful country, but the authorities running their police state and treating innocents as criminals make it extremely difficult to like it or even recommend it to other travelers. Oh well. At least I’m now back in Europe (though, technically “Eurasia”), that lovable continent that has a special place in my heart. By the time I grabbed my bag and made it through Customs, it was almost 06:00. Unfortunately for my feet, there were two problems: (1) the ATM at the airport switched from English to Russian and I wasn’t willing to click on something I didn’t understand – so, no cash for me; (2) the buses, which only take exact change, would not start running for another hour and I didn’t feel like negotiating an unfair price to take a taxi cab. So, instead of having the option of waiting until 07:00 to take a bus and paying the exact fare, I decided to walk out of the airport, in to the dark morning, to try and find a nearby bank to draw cash from. Well, it turns out that Tbilisi International Airport is far from everything. But I kept walking in raw stubbornness. I walked down the main highway to Tbilisi (“George W. Bush Street” – not sure what he did to earn that honor), which was sixteen kilometers away. I passed by twenty or so gas stations, but only one bank (the ATM didn’t work for me) before reaching the outskirts of Tbilisi. I then kept walking before crossing under the railroad tracks and on to another road. Finally, I started to see many bank options, stores, a metro station, and – for some reason – many vendors on the sidewalk selling bundles of the same yellow flowers (I found out the next day what the deal was with all the flowers – SPOILER ALERT! – March 3rd is Mother’s Day in Georgia). I tried to take the metro to cut my walk short, but no one spoke English and purchasing a ticket was impossible. I then continued on to the Old Town of Tbilisi, deciding that I had walked so far that I may as well finish the trek. After about five hours of walking and taking frequent breaks to stretch my legs and rest my feet, I reached the hostel I had made a reservation with. I then checked in, put my bags in the room, and went to sleep after being up for about twenty-six hours. I slept a grand sleep and didn’t wake up until after 19:00. I then put my shoes and jacket on, and walked outside to eat dinner. I ended up at a brewery restaurant and had chebureki (triangular pasties) stuffed with diced mushrooms, ojakhuri (pan fried veal chunks with potatoes, seasoning, and bits of pomegranate), and local beer; the food was very tasty and also very inexpensive. I then walked around the Old Town some more; it looked nice at night, with most of its monuments and historic buildings lit up; also, it was noticeably chillier at night, although, overall, the temperature was much more pleasant than I had imagined it would be (while in Tel Aviv, I thought Tbilisi would be a drastic change, but it is only slightly cooler and it doesn’t feel much colder than what I experienced in the rest of Israel; also, I expected snow, but there are only traces of it visible in the mountains). I then returned to the hostel, typed out today’s journal entry, and then went to sleep.