Sighnaghi and Telavi

The next morning I could see the house and surrounding with better light conditions. The house is located on a hill at the border of a forest. Looking out over the valley. I loved the setting of this house.

I heard the mother working in the kitchen and my nose could smell some superb smells. Not much later I was invited to take a seat and food was served. There was a fresh salad, cheese and fish. I loved the fish. The father caught them the day before.

When we finished our breakfast and drank some homemade chacha, it was time to get to know my attackers of last evening a little better.
The biggest dog, Botora, was still not fond of me. Dogs can be unpredictable so I kept a safe distance of this one.

Fortunately, the black dog, Beki, wasn’t aggressive – although he attacked me last night as well – so I accepted his presence and even became good friends!

When we were out there with the dog, I saw the opportunity to ask for a family photo as well.

They told me they would bring me back to the main street with their car. A big relieve to me, since I didn’t knew exactly where I finally ended up last night. One on the main street they returned and I started hitchhiking. Only a few cars had passed when a Mercedes stopped already. He took me halfway closer to Sighnaghi. A few minutes later I was again picked up by another Mercedes who brought me to the intersection for Sighnaghi. It’s about 45km from Sagarejo to the intersection and 15km more from the intersection to Sighnaghi.

Almost at the end there is a nice view from the road on the city. As you can see on the photo below, Sighnaghi is located at the border of a small plateau with views over the valley.

As soon as you enter the city, you can see that it has recently undergone a fundamental reconstruction. It became an important center of Georgia’s tourist industry.

Like always, I try to avoid to most obvious street. Instead I took a small street that goes around the center. Where most of the houses weren’t renovated yet. Some of these were for sale, so it’s only a matter of time before this street will loose its authentic look as well.

In this street, I met two women. They didn’t look that friendly at me. They probably thought I’m another default tourist. I greeted them with the help of some Georgian words in my little notebook. That’s how you can brake the ice with the people. Learn some words of there language and it’ll be easier to get close to the people. I managed to get her laughing and I was allowed to take a photo. Although she didn’t understand what was worth photographing, she was happy to see her photo on my screen.

One part of the city is completely surrounded by a big wall. I decided to walk in that direction and found a narrow alley with stairs taking me to the Tsminda Giorgi Church.

About 200m further, I followed a little sign ‘Tourist route’. This route goes of the main street. Climbs up for about 50m where it first looks like it’s a dead end. Surprisingly, some old wooden stairs behind the corner bring you on top of the fortified walls. I think it’s possible to make the complete circular walk over the walls, but I went only to the cafe/restaurant reached after 200m walking over the wall.

I enjoyed the view from the cafe together with two other travelers from Switzerland. Even if it was only my second day, it was good to have some people to talk too.

I took the main road back trough the city center – where I met 3 other Belgian travelers – and out the city. Once out the city I hitchhiked all the way to Telavi. It didn’t took me long to find a first ride. Unfortunately, it took me two hours to get a second ride. I thought I had a direct ride this time but I was dropped in Gurjaani. Luckily, I immediately found a last ride to Telavi.

Before I left to Georgia, I searched for someone on Couchsurfing who I could contact in case something goes wrong with me in Georgia and I would need a translator. I found Teo. She lives in Telavi and agreed to help me during my trip. It turned out I found the best contact person available 🙂

She agreed to meet me tonight in Telavi and arranged me a home-stay at one of her neighbors as well.

When I dropped my backpack in my room at the home-stay and had a shower, I went to meet Teo. We went for a late night city walk. People don’t hangout in bars here. They hang out on the street and in the park. It’s very charming to see the little carousels and other play tools for the kids.

When walking to the park, I was able to catch this last photograph of the day. A little boy buying popcorn from outside the car window. You can see his happiness on his face.

Teo also arranged one of her friends would pick me up the next day and bring me all the way to Omalo. The center village in the Tusheti region. A very isolated region in the Southern Caucasus. A drive that will take five hours.

I couldn’t believe I would really go to the mountains of Tusheti. Back home I was dreaming about this place, but thought I would never be able to reach it. Tomorrow I will be somewhere in Tusheti!