Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Vacation in Georgia

It's almost Christmas in Georgia, but Mason and I went there to celebrate early, well at least at the same time as most of you :). This big tree in the middle of Freedom Square in Tbilisi is actually for New Years, but we made it our Christmas tree (better yet its just a holiday tree!). The 25th ended up being a big celebration for children in that square and Mason and I watched as overjoyed kids got to run all over the shutdown streets and in and out if the tree of lights.
Parts of the Naraikala Fortress date back to the 4th century. It was under many different commands as Georgia was conquered and re-conquered including Turkish, Persian and obviously Georgian. In the summer when my family came to visit Nick and dad ran around this fort shirtless (to much info?!).
I found the hardware section of the big, daily, street bazaar. I always get too excited and take lots of pictures when I find "hardware stores." But this man had so many old tools that reminded me of what my grandpa had in the back room of our hardware store, it made me smile.
Climbing these old stairs Mason and I explored the cities old churches and took in view of all of the city.
This is the old Turkish bathhouse. The beautiful mosaic facade matches the mosque behind it. Mason and I enjoyed a private room with a hot pool and multiple running water sources one day and another time when other PCVs came up to meet us a bunch of us girls went into the public section and got massages. I can see where our athletic clubs get their ideas for steam rooms, but these were natural, from hot springs.
After 3 nights in Tbilisi Mason and I took a train out to Batumi, on the Black Sea coast, about 12 miles from Turkey, for the day. This is the gorgeous pebble beach that us and many other Georgians were enjoying on a nice sunny day. Mason and I took a 3 hour nap out here!
Batumi Coast Guard boats near where all the fishermen catch the sardines that are for sale everywhere.
As we slowly walked back to the train station to take the train back the next night we had a rock skipping contest along the beach.
When we got back to Tbilisi we had many more friends join us so we went out to site see again. In the distance here is the main and biggest church in Tbilisi. Mason and I had gone and seen the service on Sunday. Georgia is an Orthodox Christian country so it was something new and interesting to experience. But on this day we walked up again with other friends, the church wsa still bustling even on a Thursday.
The "Kura River" as they call it goes right through the middle of Tbilisi, giving it a very European feel. It is actually the same main river the flows through Azerbaijan, we call it the "Kur River."
When New Years finally came around the streets were lit up and shut down from cars. We made friends with volunteers from all over the Caucasus' that were spending New Years in Georgia and spend the night party hoping with them.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! The other Azerbaijan PCVs that came up to meet Mason and I. It was a wonderful trip, Georgia is a fabulous place to explore! Thanks mom and dad!!