After 8 consecutive working days it was nice with a break, so I headed for Tbilisi to refresh myself with some buzzle, exhibitions, cappuccino, dinners, walks in the streets and parks.
Given that my water supply at home is quite unreliable, sometimes water, sometimes not (such as now, no water since yesterday..), sometimes hot, sometimes (ice)cold, it is a real pleasure to relax in the sauna and sulphur baths for a while. I ordered a scrub from an elderly man as I entered the changing room. Last time (my first time) the man shook his head and sighed “dirty, dirty” as his scrub device peeled off old skin from my body. Hehe. He told me I need to do this at least every ten days so I took his word for it and came back. And this time there was no talk of dirt 😉
3o hours in the capital went by quite quickly and before I knew it, it was time to hit the rail back home. I love travelling by train, and train rides in Georgia are equally exiting as elsewhere. The Tbilisi trainstation is supermodern containing supermarkets and caffe-latte-cafés etc. To my surprise the tickets was unexpectedly sold out and the next train was at 02.oo (with which I’d be home at 4 am then get up for work at 7…) With seven minutes before the train departs, I consider my options,…
…exit the supermodern flourecent-light-waiting hall and take the steps down to the platform. This is like a small journey in time. All of a sudden there is darkness aside from a few lampposts shedding light through the misty platform. Smoke from the coal heating up the train rises from small chimneys in each wagon and leaves its distinct smell. People dressed in black smoke their cheap cigarettes in small clusters. Old soundsystems transmit harsh voices ushering passengers to their trains while babushkas selling water and beer yell “water! beer!”. There is no doubt I’m far away from home, but it’s difficult to believe its 2011.
Without any specific plan I head to the first conductor I see, a middle aged lady in curly blond hair and a tight conductors uniform. And yes, the uniform is definately of a Soviet cut. There was no fuzzing or argumentation – somehow I was instantly offered to come along but without berth or seat for two lari (<1euro). Nice!!! I love this flexible system, and again, there is no doubt that I’m not in Sweden 😉 As we start to role I offered her a choclate bar along with my 2 lari. She refused the 2 lari but accepted the choclate. Haha!
The ride has another interesting twist to it, because as we’re approaching Gori I was engaged in conversation with some locals and suddenly realize I’ve reached my destination. So I gather my things and hit for the exit only to realize we’re already in motion. “Oh yea, sorry I forgot, Gori…” says the conductor, “Davai, begi, begi!” (Let’s go, jump, jump!). So I jumped, although tricky landed safely.
This one definately adds to my train rides to remember! (Yes, there is a list on the same theme – unreliable time optimistic aron in communist/post communist countries – but those are to be shared another time and place…)