They cancelled my flight to Kiev from Batumi, so I ended up having to fly out of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Rezi, Basa and I took an overnight train to Tbilisi from Batumi. We only had a few hours in the morning to look around, so we saw very little of the city (we had hoped to get Rezi’s cousin to drive us around a bit to see the city, but there was a miscommunication about the timing and we couldn’t fit it in). However, what I did see I really liked – the architecture is beautiful, there are churches everywhere, and the whole city is nestled in a valley, so the view of the city from the hills is amazing. Rezi himself had never been to Tbilisi before (other than to transfer trains, which doesn’t count), and so I’ve made him promise that we’ll do some more exploring when I come back. One thing I wouldn’t suggest doing in Tbilisi – ordering khachapuri Ajara-style. They don’t know how to do it. Best to be in Ajara (that is, in Batumi) to get it done right.
My trip back to Piter was long, and made more so by the sudden feelings of loneliness that washed over me. For three straight weeks I’d been surrounded by people that made me feel like one of their own (not least of which was Rezi), and suddenly I was alone. I didn’t plan ahead and so didn’t have a map or guidebook for Kiev, so even though I had a few hours to kill between my flight and my train to Moscow, I ended up not seeing anything noteworthy (even though it’s a glorious city). Instead I went to the movies and saw the most awful film ever, “Tarif Novogodny” (“New Year’s Phone Plan”). It was so poorly written and badly acted that I don’t even want to talk about it. It was strange in Kiev to suddenly understand everything being said around me again; my ears had gotten used to simply not understanding most of the linguistic input they were getting in Georgia.
In Moscow I had the whole day to play, so I made my way to Red Square and went through all the hoopla to see Lenin’s mummy again. You have to go in the proper gate, pay to check your bag, go through the metal detectors, and then you get all of 15 seconds to look at the waxy, creepy corpse before it’s all over, and then you have to walk all the way back across Red Square to get your bag back. I’ve decided that seeing Lenin twice in one lifetime is enough – I won’t go back again.
Red Square was set up for some kind of concert, so there was no entrance into St. Basil’s Cathedral. However, I did spend several hours at the State Historical Museum. The rooms on the first floor are themselves worthy of a tour – they’re gorgeous! I was lucky enough to end up on a free excursion through the first floor of the museum, which started in pre-historic times and went up to the end of the 17th century. History of the Russian Empire was shown on the second floor; I perused that collection on my own, but wasn’t as impressed (maybe I was just tired, but really, the personal papers of various generals just weren’t that interesting).
I had a little return culture shock when I realized that Moscow was just teaming with cops. (Piter is the same way.) It’s always been like that, I’d just forgotten for three weeks what it’s like to see cops everywhere all the time.
So what comes next? Rezi has invited me back for the summer, so after Flagship ends on May 25 I’ll be heading back to Georgia, at least till the end of the summer. And after that, we’ll see.
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