"My soul is elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there." -- Rumi

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tbilisi: First Week

Hello again, faithful readers!

Well, here I am in beautiful Tbilisi, settled in my new room in my new host-apartment with my new very excellent host-family.

Turns out I am not in Saburtalo; closer to Digomi or Didube.  I am distinctly on the edge of the city, but things could definitely be worse, mainly thanks to Marshutka #40, whose route takes me on a 45-minute journey to Freedom Square, on the way passing Tbilisi's massive nutty main Bazari, the stadium, a brewery, a marshutka station, a Thai restaurant, Tbilisi's Catholic Church, a nice district north of the river that has plenty of shops and restaurants, and a McDonalds.

Speaking of, I ate at McDonald's twice yesterday.  I am not ashamed.

McDonald's in Tbilisi is a bit of an odd concept.  It's McDonald's, so their Big Mac (I had one!), their double cheeseburger (had one of these too!), and their McChicken (and one of these!  Blame the Georgian beer!) all are wonderfully identical to any of the same taste explosions you might get at a rest stop in New Jersey.  But because they are the same, they are priced the same.  This transforms McDonald's from the inexpensive last-resort-meal-on-the-go to an incredible extravagance.  For example, earlier in the week I had lunch at a cute little restaurant near the Bazari.  Giant chicken shwarma wrap and two draft beers came to just under nine lari.  In contrast, my lunch of Big Mac, small fries and large coke came to a mighty eleven lari.  And this for a meal that did not -- for the record -- even include any alcohol.

The true irony here is that I would likely cut off my own pinky than eat McDonald's twice in one day when in the States.  Here, it was just awesome.  But also something reserved for special occasions, for the sake of both my BMI and my wallet.

Still, that Big Mac was fucking good.   Anyway.

Life in Tbilisi, believe it or not, has been pretty quiet so far.  I arrived a week ago today, at just about this time.  It was starting to snow.  I had a quiet dinner with my new host mom and host sisters (with fruit juice as beverage!!), took a sleeping pill and had an early night.

The next morning I woke up to this:

View from my apartment's balcony.
You can see from the rather sparse urban landscape that my new host-apartment is not exactly in the middle of things!  Probably not entirely a bad thing that this is so. :)

Also, my host family had chickens on their balcony.

The next day started off just as quiet.  I've started reading Kerouac's On the Road and spent a lot of the day doing that.  But at dinner, the homemade apple chacha came out (delicious, and made by my host grandpa!), and the night got very Georgian indeed. :)

Shots with my host mom Kate, dance party in the bedroom with host sister Tatia and her cousin Ann, and then Kate decided we needed to visit my host dad Zviadi at the restaurant where he sings!  So we did.

Tatia and Ann
Host Mom Kate and me.  We bonded this night a little. :)
 The week has proceeded apace.  On Monday, Kate took me to the aforementioned massive, utterly insane Tbilisi Bazari.  On Tuesday, I took good old #40 into town and splurged on drinks and lunch at the Marriott.  Mimosas (real mimosas!!!) and smoked salmon and French onion soup.  YUM.  I've taken a couple walks and braved the Bazari on my own and met a few friends, and so far I have to say I am very happy with my life in the Big City.

View of the city from the playground next to my apartment.
Last night I braved the bus system (different than the marshutkas) and went into Saburtalo to meet my old Orientation roommate Suzanne and some of her friends.  All very cool people; we drank plenty of Georgian beer and Suzanne and I had our late-night trip to McDonald's to finish off our night.  A bunch of folks there were heading downtown to a bar after that, but it was 1:00 AM and I decided to call it a night.  Looking forward to hanging with those guys again though.

Quiet Saturday today after last night's shenanigans.  And my little host sister, Anano, just came in wanting her second English lesson of the day!  How... wonderful. 


  1. Did any of your Poti friends follow you to the Big City?

  2. That's quite a nice snowscape, in a stoic Eastern European way.

  3. Meg -- nope, and I am missing them a lot. I've been trying to re-connect with some people here in Tbilisi but so far it's been more difficult than I expected.