My flight arrived in the very early morning in Tbilisi. At the airport, I bought a Georgian simcard, and changed a little amount of money. I noticed there is an ATM at the airport as well. Since I wasn’t fond of arriving in the city center of an unknown city, I decided to sleep a few hours at the airport. The fake grass under the stairs was comfortable enough.
My plan was to get out of Tbilisi as soon as I could. Not that I wouldn’t like to visit the city, I just planned to do this part later on my trip.
I didn’t really plan anything so I decided to go visit Sighnaghi. Just because I remember I saw a charming photograph of this little city on Pinterest before. My guide book told me there were some other places worth visiting along the road.
I took the bus for 0.50GEL to the center. I asked the driver to get do Didube bus station. Just next to the bus station is the metro station where I took the Akhmeteli–Varketili line to Samgori. (Second last stop)
At the exit of the Samgori metro station, there’s food market. Marshrutkas are waiting at the end of the market. Ask any driver for the bus to Sagarejo. This city is halfway the road to Sighnaghi.
While waiting for the bus to leave, I watched these man playing Narde. A very common game in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, …
The bus takes the Kakheti Highway for 40km where it will go left of the main road at a roundabout. Tell the bus driver you want to visit Ninotsminda. He’ll drop you off a few hundred meter further. On the left side of the street you’ll see a rust sign with a icon of a church. This road goes up for 300m where it reaches the Monastery of Ninotsminda. The old church is ruined. Newer houses on the inside of the surrounding walls are inhabited.
I walked around the walls and discover a path climbing up the hill. The path soon disappeared but I did manage to get a nice view over the village.
I ran out of water and is was very warm so I was happy when some man offered me a beer when they so me approaching. I had no idea yet I would spend some time here.
I was offered fresh beer as soon as my glass got half empty. To avoid drinking on an empty stomach, I took some traditional sweets from Ghent out of my backpack and shared it with them. They seemed to like it. Especially this man!
More and more people arrived. The couple above luckily spoke some English and explained me there was a wedding yesterday. Today they were gathering at the wife’s hourse for lunch. Tomorrow they would gather again at the man’s house.
When all the beer was empty, and about half the village had arrived, it was time for the food. For events like weddings, men and women eat separately. I was offered a place at the middle of the table. Instead of beer, wine was now served. Multiple dishes were places on every available spot of the table.
I had to try every single dish and joined the traditional toasts. There are plenty of toasts coming. Usually they drink there glass empty with every single toast. But you shouldn’t try that. Trust me!
Although I was very happy to be part of this event, I couldn’t stay there all day. It was time for me to move on. I returned to the street where the bus dropped me and continued this street to Sagarajo. It was very hot and the alcohol in my blood didn’t make it any easier to walk.
On the map I could see a small nature reserve just east of Sagarejo. My plan was to find a place there where I could pitch my tent. I asked the road several times and they kept sending me further east. At the end I was offered a ride in a jeep. They drove me for about 15 minutes where they dropped me and sent me further east.
It was getting dark so I should find a place to sleep soon.
When I approached some houses, three dogs started barking and ran at me. I turned around and froze. Fortunately they didn’t bit me. Scared I was.
A man arrived and dragged the dogs back to his house one by one.
I asked the man if I could pitch my tent somewhere around his house, but he told me it was to dangerous because of wolves. He did offered a bed on the balcony of his house instead. I had a great view over the forest since we were located on a hill and could also watch a heat thunderstorm from my bed in the evening.
My first day is over. I had already a feeling this trip would be at least as remarkable as last year to Armenia.
But you can’t know unless you’ve done it. To be continued…