Day 8: Tbilisi and Signaghi
On my eight day, I left Turkey for Tbilisi, Georgia.
Fabrika Hostel, 9:30pm
Finally back to the hostel. I took a shower (I can't stand going to bes without taking a shower, even at 3°C). Then I packed my things, for tomorrow's trip to Gidauri.
Liberty Square, 9:00pm
Desman also drove me around the city before bringing me to the hostel, passing through the wide boulevards and squares. I made a mental note to explore this part of the city after I come back from Gidauri on the 26th.
We swung by a mall so I can buy an adapter for my chargers. The mall was nice - looks highend. It is full of Christmas shoppers.
Kakheti Highway, 6:00pm
The drive back to Tbilisi was ardous because of the thick fog. We saw several accidents along the way.
Kiziki Galavani, 4:00pm
We went to a restaurant that overlooks the valley and the Caucasus mountains. The fog hid the view though, but there was a few moments when it lifted so I was able to see the castle walls, the valley and the mountain beyond.
Desman ordered food and wine (of course, we were at the birthplace of wine). He ordered me two goblets, one white (rkatsiteli) and one red (saperavi).
He also ordered beef and pork dishes, some potatoes and and a cheese-filled pastry. It was a hearty meal, and we did a lot of Georgian toasts to everything we can think of.
Signaghi National Museum, 3:30pm
We visited the museum which has a lot of artifacts relating to the history of the village - implements for winemaking, weapons, traditional clothes, and art.
We finally arrived at the village. The fog is still thick and the cold is not helping me with my cough. We walk around the village, Desman pointing out the interesting architecture and places around it.
The fog is so thick we can barely see anything beyond a few meters. It's gwtting cold too, around 3°C.
Desman, the brother of my friend and (former) colleague at work, picked me up at the hostel. He is my host for today and he said he plans to take me out of the city. We made a detour to a pharmacy first - I got cough medicine - and at a bank where I withdrew money from the ATM (tip: BPI cards only work in TBC Bank machines). Then we drove on. Destination: Signaghi - a small village to the east. This village was the birthplace of wine.
I finally woked up around ten. Then I went downstairs to get some detergent and token for the laundromat. I had a week's worth of clothes to wash.
Fabrika Hostel, 5:00am
After paying my bill I went to my room, which is a coed dorm type. Fabrika used to be a Soviet-era textile factory, which was repurposed into a hostel. I showered first before I finally was able to sleep.
Tbilisi International Airport, 4:00am
We landed in Tbilisi Airport, finally, after more than an hour of delay in Sabiha Gokçen. There was some miscommunication with passport control when it got to my turn - the officer said I cannot enter Georgia without a visa, but the website says I can. It turned out I have to show them a resident card or equivalent, which my US visa qualifies. After checking every other documents like return tickets, I was let through.
I changed some money then got a taxi outside which took me to my hostel.