Day 18: The Long Road Home
We awoke early to a beautiful morning in Mestia and flung the curtains wide to drink in the view of the towers and mountains, to which we would shortly say a sad goodbye. We dressed hurriedly and set off for a last wander around town. No Nescafe for us this morning. Not a chance! We locals know where the Real coffee joints are…Hmmm, that could lead me on a side bar – the decent coffee, Pavlov’s dog, morning movement debate, but I won’t bore you with the saga of my cement bowels.
Suffice to say that I put it down to lack of proper coffee and an over-abundance of bread of every type, shape & flavour!! There was this one time though, when I very unwisely decided to give it all I could, since we were about to head over a BIG mountain and I was feeling decidedly uncomfortable.
Only once I was down on my haunches, one hand holding the wonky door closed, the other holding my nose and past the point of no return, did I realize the extent of my folly. This is the kind of place you want to get the hell in and out of as fast as humanly possible and here I was forced to wait it out for what seemed like an eternity!
I am sure I burst a blood vessel or two (no it wasn’t the quaint long drop over the river featured in the pics. This was literally a hole in the ground – I spared you that image). So there you have it after all – the joys of travel…
And further joys awaited in the form of our 4-hr shuttle back to Zugdidi in sweltering heat with no aircon, then a long wander round the city killing time before our 8 hr train journey to Tbilisi. “Don’t get your hopes up for a decent place to eat dinner”, I warned Steve. “This town is kind of like a mixture between East London and Umtata…“
But surprisingly, we found a pleasant little pancake place on a cool terrace with WIFI and stretched it for as long as possible, before heading to the station – a peaceful, but rather ramshackle affair with cows wandering alongside the line, families strolling across the tracks, shirtless, large-bellied men shooting the breeze on the track-side and teenaged girls hanging out, legs dangling over the edge. Stray dogs lurked hopefully and the local drunks slowly, but surely grew louder and louder – all-in-all quite entertaining…
The train left bang on time at 22h15 and the journey proved to be pretty
comfy. We had a double compartment to ourselves and we stretched out and slept quite well once we got used to the roller coaster, bouncing, bumping, jumping rhythm of the carriage. We pulled into Tbilisi at 06h15 am feeling relatively fresh. “Mission Coffee?” “More like Mission Impossible at this time of the morning, but let’s try!”
We ended up at Mc D 24 hr window. Yes, we have sunk so low, but desperate times call for desperate measures! It was quite fun sitting on the steps watching the city come alive.
At 08h00 we thought it ok to make our way to Hotel Sharm and greet Mzia for the third time. Checkout is only at 12h00, but hopefully there would be an empty apartment…
Indeed, we were lucky and we revelled in a hot shower then dived under the clean, fresh sheets for sleep # 2. We woke at 11h00 feeling thoroughly refreshed this time and we were HUNGRY. Let’s find lunch!
A cab ride to the old town led us to Cafe Littera, dubbed ” the pioneer of new Georgian cuisine”. Set in a leafy garden, it offered a welcome escape from the oppressive heat! We treated ourselves to a fabulous lunch – not exactly sure why, but feel we deserve it!! Venturing back into the street we hit a wall of solid heat – museum time, even if just to get into the aircon! I soon remembered, though, that I am not a museum person. I am bored to tears by the bones, stuffed animals, old documents, weapons of war, gold jewellery, musty garments and religious paraphernalia.
I did find the Russian occupation part fascinating, though – the faces & stories of the 1000s of people shot trying to resist – give me human interest over artefacts any day! And the aircon was no good, we were melting!! Back into a cab, back into our apartment, back into bed!! Well me anyway. I really can’t do wine at lunch! Steve busied himself boxing up the bikes and when I surfaced, he too was out for the count and snoring softly, the aircon blasting away full tilt.
20h00, what to do for dinner? Let’s walk to the vibey sector and find food and football. On the way we started chatting to a Georgian couple (Eka and Misha) and ended up going to dinner together – so interesting to spend an evening socializing with locals who are well travelled and speak really good, nuanced English – an unexpected turn of events indeed. I just LOVE that aspect of travel!
Then back to bed for the 4th time. Tomorrow we head for Istanbul…