March 11, 2015

Yerevan, Armenia

I fought against my body, trying to wake up early enough to catch the 10:00 marshrutka to Tbilisi, but failed miserably. I slept in, eventually woke up, and then got ready and packed my bags. I had the managers call a taxi for me to pick me up at 12:00 and take me to the Yerevan Railway Station (a lovely piece of communist architecture) where the marshrutkas depart for Tbilisi. After 12:00, when the taxi finally arrived, I said goodbye to the Chinese woman staying in the dormitory room and then left to begin my journey back to Georgia. The taxi took me to the railway station and stopped right in front of the correct marshrutka; I paid the cabbie and then asked the marshrutka driver when he would be leaving; he replied that he would leave at 14:00; this left me just about ninety minutes to eat lunch; so, I walked to the closest restaurant and had two shawarma wraps and iced tea – no. No! NO!, I’m not giving up on beer and wine, I just needed a break from drinking and iced tea seemed like the logical choice to quench my thirst and my taste buds; you can’t expect me to have alcohol with every meal I eat; now leave me alone you annoying little ethanol sprite! After my sober lunch, I returned to the marshrutka and waited until about 14:15 when we finally departed along with several other passengers. We drove north through Armenia, stopped for a twenty-minute break next to a river gorge, and then reached the border crossing. The passengers and I exited out of the vehicle, passed through Armenian Passport Control, were stamped out, reentered the vehicle, drove to the Georgian side, exited the vehicle, were stamped in through Georgian Passport Control, had our luggage x-rayed, and then returned to the vehicle.

We then drove the final hour and a half to Tbilisi. Once in Tbilisi, the marshrutka stopped at the Ortachala Bus Station, let out most of the passengers, and then continued on to the Tbilisi Central Railway Station; at the railway station, I exited the marshrutka and weighed my options: it was nearly 20:00, so catching a marshrutka to Gori was highly unlikely; I could spend the night here in Tbilisi, but that would waste time tomorrow; finally, I could suck it up and get to Gori with the railway. I chose taking a train to Gori and was glad to find out that the next train departing west was to leave at 21:10; I bought my ticket and then had dinner (a large, spicy shawarma wrap and iced tea, bought at a stall run by an Armenian who had spent time in New York and sounded American). After consuming my meal, I walked to the railway platform and entered inside the train car, found my seat, and waited for the train to depart. The journey took a little over an hour and we reached Gori at about 22:30. I then exited the train with my bags in to the frigid air. I walked north, on Stalin Avenue, with its Soviet-style buildings, the threatening memory of Iosif Vissarionovich, and drunkards stumbling around with nothing better to do with their lives. I then walked to a guesthouse I had researched online and had wanted to stay at, but they were closed for the night with no means to ring them to let me in; so, I walked to another guesthouse, which didn’t exist; next, I walked back the way I came and to the old part of town; luckily, I found a reasonably priced guesthouse managed by a nice lady and decided to stay there (there were also about eight Greeks staying there for Judo training); I had recently grown tired of staying in a dormitory room and decided to have my own room while in Gori; so I decided to cough up some more lira to pay for privacy and silence. After dropping my bags off, I went outside to buy some water or tea and to grab cash at an ATM; I got the cash, but all the nearby stores were closed, so I gave up on liquid replenishment and opted for dehydration. I then returned to the hostel, finished checking in and paying my dues, and then I went to sleep.

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An open journal or an exercise in narcissism.