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Brad’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 28 Jul 2005

Location: Tbilisi, Georgia

MapYesterday I ended up stay in Batumi another day to see a concert - Georgia's best violinist (with an unpronounceable name!). A little surprisingly, it was really spectacular! She played the Bach violin chaconne, one of my favorite pieces, and a cool jazz arangement of one of Paganini etudes. Later two kids joined her, they were mabye 13 or 13, but they were phenomonal! Both played highly virtuosic pieces very musically and would have put the best students at the con to shame!

I also went to the local museum - all about Stalin! It was really weird, all about his glories and nothing about the millions of people he killed. The guide was really enthusiastic, a real comunist - unfortunatly he was born about a hundred years too late!

I was also fortunate enough to meet a girl from Svaneti, one of the most remote regoins of Georgia. I'd really like to travel here but apparantly it's a bit dodgy without a guide. She way flying to Svaneti the next day for a big festival and I almost talked her into letting me come. Eventually she said she might call my friends tomorrow, but it was probably still too dangerous and not such a good idea, probably just as well...

Georgia is a really interesting place, but I'm not really sure what to make of it yet. Everywhere I have heard about Georgian's famous hospitality, and while I've experienced that with some people I've met, people here seem very unhappy. Nobody every smiles on the streets, and if you ask someone a question the reply is usually pretty abrupt. In Batumi, there is a really nice boulevard thats runs along the beach, but is overshadowed by this huge soviet behmoth. Apprantly it used to be a hotel during soviet times, but now is full of refugees from Abkhazia, an independant breakaway state that ceceded from Georgia fifteen years ago. Even Batumi is located in the "Autonomous State of Abjura", another semi independant state within Georgia. No wonder the country is in such a mess politically and economically.

I just arrived a few hours ago in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital city and the only place here with a respectable population - about 1.2 million. It feels very European here considereing how far it is from here to western Europe, although poverty is still pretty evident - lots of beggars on the streets. I'll probably spend tomorrow here, and then head up to Kazbegi, one of the safer places in the Causus Mountains.

I'm starting to really crazy some fresh fruits and vegetables - Georgian food is pretty tasty but so so bad for you! I think I'm yet to consume a single scrap of vegetable material since I've been here!