The history of both Armenia and Georgia begins with Noah’s Ark, pictured here, which to all accounts landed on Mount Ararat. Both countries metaphorically share this mountain and it can be said that their histories go back to the beginning of time.
Georgians claim descent from “Kortholts” and Armenians claim their ancestry from his brother “Haik”, both great grandsons of Noah and his Ark. Georgia became the world’s 2nd Christian country preceded only by Armenia. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, both countries were left with massive environmental problems …especially inheriting oil polluting from heavy metals, erosion from uncontrolled logging and over-grazing….among others.
The following mill has disintegrated over about 20 years after their leaving Georgia.
And this is a good example of all of their buildings.
Both Armenia and Georgia reversed this situation and are now entering world trade because of their excellent organic food products and wine development. Our guide said “We couldn’t afford the pesticides needed for crops or money for new equipment……so organic farming and wine production was our only choice. And now it’s paying off.”
Driving into Tbilisi, Georgia, we quickly discovered one of their city’s idiosyncrasies: any alley is considered a 2-way street. The direction is determined wholly by who gets half way first. Since the front of our rental had been damaged coming cross-county.
(the white stuff on the ground is our front bumper ….smashed by two teenagers
backing into us…..and then poorly reattached),
I do believe oncoming drivers felt we had nothing to lose….and that worked!
We found Hotel Kapola, an original converted mansion and checked into our Suite #12.
They had overbooked. I had reserved a 4 day stay 3 months earlier, and since no-one wanted to pay the price of the suite….we got it by default!
And it was magnificent. The large balcony overlooked the hillside, the river and the mountain. That night we ate at our roof top restaurant, overlooking the same view.
Lovely music coming from a small band playing In the bar. The only problem was the waiter. Mike ordered a bottle of white wine, the waiter bought red….already uncorked and poured it without “presenting” it to Mike first. The situation was immediately solved by the manager. The waiter was a bit hostile to Mike afterward….but he had no idea how easily he got off!
The next morning we met our local guide, Lila. For brevity’s sake I will reflect on a few sites, although all were marvelous.
The most impressive was Saint Nicolas Church (4th century) surrounded by the remaining fortress walls sitting on the hill top. The city is growing up to the ancient Citadel and has just opened a tram running from down town up to it. Our energetic tour guide felt we would enjoy walking up the historic pathway to the Citadel…….but we compromised: took a cab up and walked down.
We saw the new tramway begin operations the day before we left Tbilisi. Afterward we walked through the Old Town Pedestrian restaurant street. While we ate, Lila, early 50’s, gave some insight on family life both before and after the Soviet Collapse. “First”, she said, “they got rid of all the intellectuals either by transferring them to ‘work farms’ or deporting them to Siberia. Then assigning jobs to all, regardless of experience, and paying minimum wage. Minimum housing….4 families to ONE flat. All worked until too old or too feeble, and then received bare subsistence pay.
I had to move away to get an education and returned afterward as an educator at the University.” She said the older generation got used to this life, accepted it as normal and were lost, at first, when the Soviets left. This is what happened to her own family.
View of the 6,000 year old monastery that will begin the sequel.